Ford EcoSport was the car that brought in the compact SUV era back in 2013 and it was a lone ranger then. The EcoSport set the sales on fire and people doesn’t seem to get enough of it. But the case is not the same anymore. Maruti Suzuki Brezza, TUV300 and the latest Tata Nexon are vying for their own share of the compact SUV pie. Ford has got to up the game and the result is the new EcoSport. Ford has opted to give slight but impactful changes to make the EcoSport appealing. The car has dropped the popular EcoBoost engine and gets new Dragon engine. Has it worked?
For a compact SUV that measures less than 4 metres and has a ground clearance of 200 mm, the EcoSport looked pliant and has a good-looking design. To justify the facelift to the T, Ford has given a completely new face. The front grille has grown bigger and bolder, giving the EcoSport an aggressive front. The engine hood has been tweaked a bit, while the headlamp and fog lamp units get a redesign. Headlamps get new projector units and daytime running lights while the fog lamps get a bigger design and house the indicators as well. To the side and rear, things remain unchanged with only the new 17-inch alloy wheels vying for your attention.
Getting inside, the EcoSport now gets a new dashboard layout that is headed by a new 8-inch touch screen infotainment system. The system comes with Ford’s latest Sync 3 and supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while the screen also doubles as rear view camera display. Compared to the older EcoSport which had the swooping layout for the centre console, the new dash looks neat and modern. The new instrument cluster design is a big change in direction and loses the huge pod design. The all-black interiors remain here and the lower part of the console hosts the AC vents and auto AC controls. The front seats are comfortable and the driver seat gets big arm rest with its own storage space. Rear seat space is still tight and the boot space, too, remains unchanged at 352 litres. You do get softer seats with better contouring.
The new EcoSport gets a new heart—a dragon heart if you will. Ford has introduced the new Dragon family of engines with the EcoSport and making its debut here is the 1.5-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine. Ford has dropped the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine but will continue to offer the 1.5-litre diesel engine with the same power and torque outputs and a 5-speed manual gearbox.
The 1.5-litre Dragon petrol engine, which makes 123 PS of power and 150 Nm of torque, has been developed for light weight and refinement. Apart from the mild clatter during the start-up, the engine feels very refined for a 3-cylinder unit. The NVH levels are impressive even when you redline it to 6,500 rpm. The engine is quick and has great low-range punch. You can opt for a 5-speed manual gearbox and a 6-speed auto. The automatic gearbox is not a dual clutch unit but a torque converter and you also get paddle shifts. Apart from the weak mid-range, the Dragon engine proves to be a worthy addition.
As ever with any Ford, the EcoSport has retained its driving characteristics. The steering wheel is weighed perfectly and offers good feedback. The suspension has been softened but not at the cost of handling. The EcoSport still handles beautifully around the corners and carries along the curves with confidence. You get traction control and hill launch assist too for the top end variants.
With the new EcoSport, Ford has updated the car with a new face, lots of tech and a great new engine. Though it misses some crucial equipment when compared to the global version, the new EcoSport should appease its potential customers with a great package.