I haven't gone out with a pen and paper, but even with my small social circle, I can tell you a lot of people have been delaying their car purchase just till the Ford EcoSport comes along. And I finally got to trundle along in the car in Goa's lazy and thick traffic.
First impressions? It is dynamically sound on the road and a way better handler than the Safari or the Scorpio. It rides well too. But it doesn't have that driver involvement you expect from a Ford. The electric steering is a bit too light and there is some roll around corners. The all-new 1-litre EcoBoost petrol engine is the highlight of this Ford. And it puts out 123bhp, which is more than healthy for such a tiny engine. But you can access that power only with some heavy downshifting and with the engine spinning above 2000rpm. However, at slow city speeds and in stop and go traffic, this turbo-charged engine is quite driveable.
Apart from the much spoken about EcoBoost engine, this compact SUV is also available with two other engine options – 1.5-litre diesel and 1.5-litre petrol. The oil burner puts out 90bhp and 204Nm of torque while the bigger petrol is good for 110bhp and 140Nm of pulling power. Both the engines are mated to a five-speed manual gearbox while an automatic tranny will also be on offer on the 1.5 petrol.
The dashboard design is similar to that of the Fiesta (the newer one, not the Classic) and if you’re talking about features, be rest assured that you have pretty much everything that you’d desire. In terms of safety, you get six airbags and ABS. Space in the cabin is adequate for four and five will be a squeeze.
There’s also a SYNC system that pairs your phone to the car but we haven't been able to try it out nor – thankfully – the 'Emergency Assist' (that automatically connects your phone to the emergency number 108 with no third party call centre. The car provides latitude and longitude of the location and then opens the line for you to talk to 108), which gets activated with a crash. Overall, the EcoSport is a neat package.
Pricing hasn't been announced, but since all the EcoSport engines are under 1.5-litres and the car is under 4 metres, it wont be affected by the SUV excise announced in the last budget and so, we expect it to be cheaper than the Duster as it is a smaller car. We just wish it had some part of the old Fiesta's soul in it. As long as Ford doesn't price it above its worth, the EcoSport is worth the wait if you want a one-car-for-all-purposes vehicle that is compact and easy on the pocket.
Pros: Ride quality, engine noise above 4000rpm, features, 6 airbags, compact. Versatile cabin
Cons: Soft steering, roll around corners, turbo lag under 2000rpm, rear seat space.
The Ecosport is a smartly packaged car. Its not a driver's delight like a typical Ford, but if priced right, this could eat into a whole lot of other segments and be the best all round urban car.