Honda Cars India Limited (HCIL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Japanese multinational auto major Honda Motor Co., introduced its CR-V premium Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) in the domestic market on February 12, 2013. The company is hoping to expand its share in the utility vehicle segment with the '13 CR-V facelift, which has definitely stirred fresh competition in the market. Further, Ford India Private Limited (FIPL), a subdivision of the American car maker Ford Motor Co., is working round-the-clock towards the launch of its EcoSport compact SUV in the country. Termed as the most awaited new model launch of 2013, the Ford EcoSport could pose few problems for Honda CR-V on the Indian turf, with its fresh appeal, 4x4 feature and an attractive price tag.
At present, 2013 Honda CR-V premium SUV competes against the likes of several other segment contenders, such as Toyota Fortuner, Ford Endeavour, Mahindra SsangYong Rexton, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Outlander, Hyundai Santa Fe, Nissan X-Trail and Chevrolet Captiva. On the other hand, the upcoming Ford EcoSport model has its real competition in the form of Renault Duster, Mahindra Quanto and Premier Rio compact SUVs in the country. However, none of the EcoSport's Indian rivals have an All Wheel Drive (AWD) feature, at the moment.
Coming to under-the-hood specifications of the 2013 Honda CR-V, the premium SUV is powered by a 2 litre, 4-cylinder, i-VTEC petrol motor in its base version with 4x2 configuration. Further, the high end variants are powered by a 2.4 litre engine rated at 185 bhp output power with an All Wheel Drive (AWD) option. Both 2 litre and 2.4 litre engines come mated with either a six-speed automatic or a five-speed manual transmission systems.
On the other hand, the upcoming Ford EcoSport compact SUV is expected to be launched in both diesel and petrol powered models. The diesel EcoSport is going to be powered with the much fawned upon 1.0 litre Ford EcoBoost engine, which can produce a peak power output around 120 bhp. Experts believe that the USP of Ford EcoSport will be its 4x4 drive train and 1.0 litre EcoBoost motor that boasts off delivering best-in-class power/torque performance and fuel economy ratings, in comparison with its direct counterparts. Evidently, EcoSport cannot compete against CR-V in terms of engine and performance, but will offer the current hot- a diesel powered SUV option to Indian buyers.
The retail pricing is expected to play a major role in deciding the future of Ford EcoSport and Honda CR-V rivalry in the Indian auto market. At present, the Honda SUV is offered to domestic utility vehicle enthusiasts within a price band starting from close to Rs. 20 lakhs, which goes on till Rs. 24 lakhs in the country. The yet-to-be launched Ford EcoSport is a compact SUV and will see Indian daylight with price tags close to Rs. 8 to 10 lakhs. Hence, the Ford EcoSport seems like both great and cheaper alternative as compared to Honda CR-V, and will appeal to those seeking a stylish humbly priced SUV in their garage.