The compact SUV market in India has seen a tremendous surge in the past couple of years. While this genre was practically non-existent until Premier launched their Rio in the market, it was with the Ford Ecosport launch that the market took a 360 degree turn. And then came the Renault Duster, which not only challenged the Ecosport, but also changed the fortunes for the Renault itself. But how do both these vehicles stand against each other, we find out in our comparison review.
Looks can be deceptive they say, and the same is the case with the Compact SUV segment. A typical compact SUV is designed to give the impression of an SUV, and yet is compact in dimensions. Ford Ecosport and Renault Duster both try to justify this design language, but only the Renault Duster comes close to it. While the Duster is simplistic, the muscle both on the front and the wheel arches makes it stand out of the crowd of compact SUVs.
The Ford Ecosport on the other hand, is more elegantly design and breaks the monotony straight lines of the Ford cars. The Ecsport looks more sporty, has a tall-boy stance and with that big spare wheel on the tailgate, it becomes the vehicle of choice for many just by the design. We, however, like the Duster more due to its street presence and especially in the metallic Brown shade.
While exteriors were too subjective based on the taste of the buyers, the interior is a no-brainer. The cabin of the Ford Ecosport is new-age with loads of glossy black and aluminium usage. The interiors are borrowed from the sporty Ford Fiesta and makes you feel that you are sitting in a hot hatch or an upmarket sedan. While the front seats are generous, the rear seat lacks the shoulder room, though they are comfortable enough.
The Duster on the other hand, have a very bland interior, though the finish is good. The cabin is nothing like the Ecosport, which welcomes you as soon as you open the door. It's difficult to find a comfortable driving position in the Renault Duster as compared to the Ecosport. The SUV is generous though, and offers a lot of space both in the front as well as the rear.
Engine, Performance and Gearbox
We drove the diesel version of the both the cars, which happens to be a 1.5-litre common-rail unit. The Renault Duster engine is more powerful among the lot and produces 110PS @ 3900rpm and 240Nm @ 2250rpm. The turbo lag is quite low and the engine feels grunty and powerful. Though, on bumper-to-bumper traffic, you may feel a bit tired playing the clutch around.
The Ford, meanwhile, produces 91PS @ 3750rpm and 204Nm @ 2000-2750rpm. The lower output is evident and we felt the turbo lag quite-a-few times. Though, the smooth clutch helped the Ecosport pass the traffic with flying colors. The highway cruises were less fun in the Ecosport due to limited power output as compared to the Duster.
Ride and Handling
When it comes to handling, it's a largely a tie between these two SUVs. Ford Ecosport, based on the Fiesta platform, has a very dynamic chassis and we all know how well the Ford Fiesta handles. Yet, there's an underlying body roll, that makes you nervous while taking high speed corners. That said, it's still the best handling car in its segment.
Renault Duster, on the other hand, may not have the best chassis like the Ecosport, yet the wider body ensures that the SUV stays on the ground during high speed cornering. The steering has a strong kickback and quickly returns to its original position which is why you need to hold the steering quite firmly. The SUV is also good at soaking bumps, and doing off-roading is much easier than the Ecosport.
Safety and Equipment
Now, this is again one department that solidifies presence of the EcoSport among the flock of compact SUVs. The Ecosport comes with 6 airbags, while the Duster with only 2 airbags, this ofcourse we are talking for the top variant. The Ecosport is also a much better equipped car among these two SUVs. The talking point is the Ford SYNC technology - a voice activated feature that controls a host of features. It also comes with an automatic automatic control, both of which are not available on the Duster even as an option.
First thing first - there's almost more than a Lakh rupees difference between the Ecosport and the Duster. The premium paid for the Duster fetches you a better and rugged looking SUV, interior space and highway capability. So if you are someone who is on the highway most of the time Renault Duster is the car for you. Ford Ecosport is everything else. A better package overall with well equipped cabin, competent city car and fun to drive. And what's more, you will end saving much more if you go for the Ford Ecosport.