Ford presents final production version of its upcoming EcoSport compact SUV

Sunday 06 May 2012, 23:18 PM by

Ford has been working overtime over the past few months in order to promote its upcoming EcoSport compact SUV in the international market. The first edition of the car was launched in South America in 2004 and still figures in the list of highest selling cars in Brazil. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the American manufacturer has decided to launch the model in Brazil first, with an official launch date expected to be in May or June 2012. The car has also been showcased at the 2012 Beijing Auto Show just one day after it was presented in Brazil.

The production version of the model exhibited in China differs only slightly from the one displayed at the 2012 New Delhi Auto Expo in January 2012. The aggressive and stylish look of the EcoSport has been retained in the final model, along with the edgy body lines that add to its appeal. The Titanium variant of the car presented in China was in Mars Red colour and featured 16 inch aluminium alloy wheels as well as chrome grille, which enhance its looks. A notable difference between the concept and production vehicles is the integration of halogen headlamps in the latter instead of the LEDs used in the former.

EcoSport is an urban mobility vehicle that Ford expects will create a new segment in the Indian auto market. The car will be powered by the frugal 1 L, 3 cylinder EcoBoost petrol engine that is capable of producing 118 hp of power and 170 Nm of torque. Therefore, the power and torque of the car will be similar to that of a bigger 1.6 L engine, while the fuel consumption has been lowered by 20 per cent. This engine is expected to deliver average of 20 kmpl and produce only 140 g/km of CO2. A 1.5 L diesel engine, which is presently used in Fiesta, is also anticipated for the Indian market, since the consumers here are steadily migrating towards fuel efficient diesel cars. In terms of transmission options, buyers can choose between a 5 speed manual gearbox and the dual clutch 6 speed automatic gearbox. The latter makes gear shifts smoother while providing fuel economy associated with manual transmission. Even the design of the EcoSport, which includes a sleek profile and streamlined rear tail lights, is such that the car boasts of superior aerodynamics that improve the overall fuel economy.

With urban mobility in mind, EcoSport has been integrated with a host of features that will make the model suitable for city driving as well as off-roading. Its design and size are ideal for cornering around sharp turns, passing through heavy traffic and for parking in restricted spaces. On the other hand, front disc and rear drum brakes, MacPherson Struts front suspension, torsion beam rear suspension, ground clearance of 200 mm and 550 mm water wading capacity allows the car to handle adverse driving conditions quite easily.

Exteriors of the upcoming EcoSport will play a crucial role in attracting potential buyers. There is negligible difference in the production and concept renditions of the model, so prospective customers who appreciated the version shown at the 2012 New Delhi Auto Expo will remain content. Based on the B2E platform, the car measures less than 4000 mm in length, which makes it eligible for the tax benefits provided by the Indian government. Roof rails, silver skid plate, roof antenna, a grille with 4 slats bearing the Ford badge, body coloured handles and aggressive swept-back headlamps add to the appeal of this SUV. It also boasts of conventional tail lights, body coloured bumper, black air dam, small round fog lamps, protective cladding on the bumper. The touch of sportiness is added to the car by the sweeping roof that seamlessly meets the tinted windshield. Sides on the edges and lines on the doors also add to the appearance of the car.

The upcoming EcoSport's interiors, which were first seen in Beijing, are heavily influenced from the Fiesta. This model boasts of one of the quietest interiors in a car, which adds to the driving experience. Ice Blue lighting configuration on the instrument cluster, premium fabrics and fine finish add to the appeal of the model's cabin. Powerful air conditioner, comfortable leather seats, steering mounted controls, MFD, tachometer, power windows, rear seat belts, armrest cup holders and electrically adjustable Outside Rear View Mirrors (ORVMs) are also available in the car

In spite of a small frame, EcoSport provides sufficient seating space for 5 passengers, along with luggage. This can prove to be a successful combination for the Indian market, where the recently launched Ertiga, which boasts of small size but seating space for 7 occupants, was very well received, with over 10,000 bookings in less than 15 days. Space is one of the highlighting factors of the EcoSport, wherein the company has managed to maintain 60:40 rear seat ratio. The foldable seats also provide tremendous space for extra luggage meant for long trips. With 560 L of space in the rear seats (when folded) and 346 L of trunk capacity, passengers will have more than sufficient space on any trip. A slide-out drawer located under the front seats and a total of 20 storage spaces allow occupants to store small articles in the car quite conveniently.

SYNC is the unique voice control mechanism that seamlessly integrates the car with mobile, USB and Bluetooth devices. This innovative system can automatically switch between the car and the device, so that the driver can continue with ongoing calls even after getting out of the car. Moreover, the system will read out SMSs and allow the driver to dial calls and select the music to be played on a phone through its voice recognition capabilities. Apart from that, the notable features of the model's interiors will be high driving position, smart keyless entry, Ford Power Start and a cooled glovebox.

Safety concerns have been completely addressed in the EcoSport, which boasts of Antilock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), dual airbags in the front, side curtain airbags, rear parking sensors, traction control and Hill Launch Assist. Its boron steel body allows it to keep the passengers safe even in case of a collision. However, there is speculation that the car maker may remove some of the safety features in order to keep the model's price under control.

Michael Boneham, the president of Ford India has stated that the car will be brought to India in early 2013. Ford has set aside $ 142 million in order to bolster its Chennai, Tamil Nadu plant in order to develop the EcoSport in India. Apart from that, the car will also be built in Camacari, Brazil; Rayong, Thailand and Chongqing, China and will be sold in 100 countries. Upon launch, it is expected to cost close to Rs. 7 to 9 lacs in the country and compete against the likes of Premier RiO and the upcoming Renault Duster and Mahindra mini Xylo. It is expected to become a volume generating product for Ford India and replicate the success of Figo hatchback in the country. This car is part of the company's plans to bring a total of 8 new models to India in five years, though no India-specific model are planned for the future.

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