The world of competitive SUVs is getting is getting more exciting by the day. Many automakers have entered the fast growing segment in recent times. Cars like the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza and the Tata Nexon have managed to capture the car lover’s imagination; which just means that the car that created the segment lost out heavily. The Ford Ecosport was an instant hit when first launched and in a bid to retain that top spot the company launched a facelift with tones of changes last year. But they didn’t stop there; first came a new top of the line petrol variant and now the American company has launched the Ecosport S with the much talked about Ecoboost petrol engine.
The Ecosport has always been an attractive looking car and that is why it has always been on the shortlist of compact car buyers. The engineers and designers have done a great job in making a SUV that is shorter than 4 meters in length. The newly introduced EcoSport S is a top-of-the-line variant and Ford has made some smart changes to enhance the compact SUV’s imposing stance. The car gets all-new smoked HID headlamps with dark inserts and a more prominent black treatment to the fog lamp bezel. The dark theme has been carried all through the exterior design with a blacked out grille, black painted roof and roof rails and 17-inch smoke alloys for a more noticeable road presence. These changes make the Ecosport S look apart from other variants and it looks trendier than earlier. And the Ecosport finally gets a sunroof which Ford calls funroof.
The interiors of the EcoSport S feature orange accents on the seats as well as instrument panel to break the monotony and add to the cabin’s appeal. Ford has also introduced a new, bigger 4.2-inch digital information cluster that gives a lot of information and also houses a tyre pressure monitoring system. Of course the new 8-inch touch screen system seen on the facelift is there too. It is very responsive and is compatible with both Apple car play and Android Auto. It also has a rear parking camera, ambient lighting and the new popular sync 3 voice command system from Ford. Along with cruise control the car also gets a speed limiter, rains sensing wipers and automatic headlamps. The car now also gets touch sensitive door handles for keyless entry. However, the missing grab handles a bit of a letdown. The second row is a comfortable place to be in, has a centre arm rest but misses out on AC vents.
The biggest factor that separates the Ecosport S from other variants of the car is the re-introduction of the famed 1.0 liter Ecoboost engine on the car. The globally engine delivers an impressive 125 PS of peak power and 170 Nm of torque. Ford is also claiming a good fuel economy of 18.1 Km/L on this 3 cylinder engine. The big change is that now this engine is mated to an all-new six-speed manual transmission that offers slicker, more precise gear shifts to aid quick manoeuvres and overtakes. Compared with other engines in the portfolio this one is certainly much more fun to drive. EcoSport S is also offered with the popular 1.5L diesel motor that delivers best-in-class 100 PS peak power and a fuel economy of 23 Km/L. In case you want an automatic, the option of 1.5 liter petrol engine along with paddle shifts is there too.
Ride & Handling
Owing to its compact dimension the Ecosport is a car that has always handled well and the story is the same on the facelift as well. On straight as well as curvy roads the car maneuvers well and even at high speeds it is pretty stable. The light and responsive steering wheel does its bit to make the ecosport a more dynamic car than before. Ride quality is a bit on the stiffer side but overall the suspension is tuned well to take on the bad patches of the road. There is no all wheel drive option but the compact SUV does get features like hill launch assist and traction control.
The Ecosport is now fully loaded to take on some stiff competition in the market. The new Ecosport S and Signature editions have certainly made the car more appealing and more fun to drive. In terms of cost of ownership too Ford has done well by offering longer (10K) service interval and affordable scheduled service cost of 0.39 for petrol and 0.46 paisa for diesel/100,000 KM. The EcoSport S is priced at Rs. 11.37 lakh for petrol and Rs. 11.89 lakh for diesel and these are good ammunition to fight the competition and impress the buyer.
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars