Few cars come to define a segment the way the original Ford Ecosport did way back in 2013. It is the car that started the compact SUV revolution here in India. However, as is the case with most cars, fresher rivals have slowed sales. Ford though has decided to go in for a sea of heavy duty changes including an all-new petrol engine. All this means that the new Ford Ecosport is almost as good as a completely new model change. It looks fresh and ready to take on rivals.
From a distance, the cars silhouette is similar to the outgoing car. But closer inspection will reveal an all new front end replete with new lamps which get projectors in them. The grille is all new too with the Ford logo prominently in its middle. A new set of prominent foglamps completes the look. The bumper now gets scruff plates to give it a more thunderous look. From the side on, the car looks pretty similar but you do get new 17-inch wheels with lower profile tyres from earlier. This gives it a light and sporty look. The rear end is completely unchanged. In fact people behind you won’t be able to tell if it’s the new Ecosport you are driving or the older one. Ford decided to keep the tail gate mounted wheel because customer clinics revealed buyers loved it at the back.
The new dashboard looks brilliant. Gone is the plethora of buttons, which could simply confuse and intimidate first time users. You get a nice and easy to read 8-inch touch screen display. It’s an intuitive system to use and good to read also even on the brightest of sunny days. It’s better than the system on both the Maruti Brezza and Tata Nexon. Buyers will also appreciate the interior quality, which has been improved and also like the extra width in the seats now. Cushioning is spot on.
Rear seat occupants will still moan about the lack of rear AC vents but will appreciate the safety kit on this car. It gets 6 airbags on the top version along with traction control too. Space in the back seats is decent but it isn’t the widest car so the rear seats are best for two rather than three.
Engine, performance and gearbox
You can now choose from a new 1.5-litre petrol or 1.5-litre diesel. The new petrol engine is a 3-cylinder unit but still manages to sound very refined. Ford engineers claim it is also more fuel efficient compared to the outgoing car. There’s a new automatic gearbox as well. This new gearbox is available only on the petrol and feels adequate for daily city driving. You can change gears using paddle shifters too, a unique feature for this segment.
Most buyers will deviate towards the diesel though. It’s supremely refined, good for economy and very responsive as well. In fact, the diesel engine feels even more refined than the petrol when you rev it hard. The manual gearbox on the diesel is enjoyable to use and is definitely ahead of both its main rivals. The diesel engine packs a punch and has petrol-like linear power delivery. It can simply sit at 100kph all day on the highway with the engine buzzing at 1,500rpm.
Ride and handling
The steering wheel on the new car has been lightened up a bit but its still got good feedback and feels very precise. This is still the best car for keen drivers in this segment. The new tyres also add to ride comfort which is very good. Ford engineers have softened up the suspension a bit as well, which means at slower city speeds few of the bumps enter the cabin. At faster speeds the car remains solidly planted too and offers great confidence in the driver.
The new Ford Ecosport with its long list of changes is easily the best compact SUV on sale in India once again. Go ahead and test drive one at a dealership near you.
Photography: Mohd. Nasir