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2016 Ford Ecosport - The Crossover King

Snapshot: Ford has recently updated the Ecosport and added 9 more bhp under the hood.

In many ways, the Ford Ecosport can be credited with setting the trend and increasing the popularity of compact SUVs in India. Though more of a crossover, the Ford Ecosport exhibits the road presence of an SUV, the practicality of a hatchback and the space of a sedan. After receiving the record number of bookings and later becoming the highest selling compact SUV in India, Ford decided to give a mild makeover to the Ecosport MY 2016.

We’ve managed to get our hands on the updated Ecosport and here's what we feel about the 2016 Ford Ecoport!

Exterior

The updated Ecosport is basically the original Ecosport that was launched in 2013 with a minor upgrade and you need to be a die-hard Ford fan to differentiate between the two. The changes on the outside includes new LED headlights, a new set of alloys and a few minor tweaks. There was quite-a-buzz for the rear mounted spare wheel to be removed, but given the love of Indians for the muscular SUVs, Ford decided to retain the wheel.

Instead of many straight lines, Ford relied on the trusted angular looks giving the Ecosport  a more contemporary and ahead of its time look as compared to some of the rivals. The chunky Aston Martin inspired grille up front is the new design language for the Ford. The crossover sits quite high from the ground and the tall stance gives it a solid road-presence.

Interior

The Ecosport's cabin is probably the smartest and appealing cabin of all the compact SUVs and this is the reason Ford didn't fiddle much with the basic design. The overall layout remains the same, with an all-black seats and dashboard. The dashboard is similar to the Fiesta’s, with the central console housing a plethora of buttons and plenty of cubbyholes throughout the cabin.

The biggest change comes in the form of the steering levers, which are now placed according to Indian standards - indicators on the right side and wiper on the left. The hand brake is now draped in leather and moved a bit to the right towards the driver side. You can also buy a special chrome pack that adds a chrome treatment to the instrument cluster, power windows insert and AC knob.

The space inside the cabin isn't much in terms of the width, so squeezing five adults can be a bit of a  challenge, but the legroom is ample to stretch your legs and so is the headroom. The front captain seats with central armrest are high-set, offering a commanding driving position.

Engine, transmission and performance

The biggest change in the 2016 Ford Ecosport comes in the form of an updated power output from the 1.5-litre TDCi diesel motor. The upgraded 1.5-litre engine now produces 99 bhp, a healthy 8.9 bhp more than the previous figures and the torque now stands at 205 Nm. The engine is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. Speaking for performance first, the new output is worth every penny you pay, and you realize it as soon as you push the throttle.

The good torque figure ensures that overtaking is a breezy affair and so is the uphill driving. Ford had worked on insulating the noise from engine, both during idle state and hard acceleration. The power delivery is linear and responsive and you feel the surge coming every time to hit the accelerator.  

While the car is good for long distance cruising, it's equally responsive and easy to drive in the bumper to bumper traffic, thanks to a slick gearbox. Though there's a bit delay by the gearbox to summon the engine, it does its duty rather easily. The gear ratio is high which means you can keep the car on one gear up even while cruising in the city at low speeds.

Ride and handling

Ford Ecosport borrows its chassis and steering from the Fiesta and though it doesn't exude the agility of the Fiesta, it's the best compact SUV to drive. It has very car or rather hatchback like feeling and no rival can match the way it steers around the corner. The body roll is almost negligible no matter how hard you hit the corner and the car gives you a confidence inspiring drive.

In terms of ride quality too, sitting in Ford Ecosport is a buttery affair and the car effectively deals with potholes and bumps on the road. Factors like noise insulation from engine and wheels, suspension quality and comfortable seats ensures that your drive in the Ecosport is one of the best in any car sans segment.  

Safety and features

The top-end Titanium version of the Ford Ecosport is loaded with goodies like steering mounted audio controls, rake and reach adjustment for the steering wheel, automatic climate control, driver’s seat height adjustment amongst other things. 

In terms of safety, you get side and curtain airbags along with the driver and passenger airbag. Other safety features like Traction control, ABS, and hill launch assist helps the driver get out of tricky situations as well.

Summary

Ever since its debut in the Indian market, Ford Ecosport has proved to be one of the most sought-after and no-nonsense product. With the latest update, Ford has removed the minor niggles and the engine upgrade makes it the best offering in this segment right now. In short, the Ford Ecosport is a compelling package in this price range and offers everything you can expect from a car.

Images by Pawan Sharma

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