Car Tested: 2013 Ford EcoSport
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 6.63 – 10.66 lakhs
The Ford EcoSport boasts of stylish exteriors and tons of features, it should be a hit on face value alone.
A new segment has emerged in India and is seeing tremendous growth. The compact SUV space has till now been dominated by Renault’s Duster but a new rival is on the horizon. You have probably seen the Ford EcoSport multiple times already as the American automaker unveiled the vehicle almost 18 months back at the 2012 Auto Expo. While the first generation Ford EcoSport was launched way back in 2003, the second gen model only went on sale last year (in Brazil). Localization has been the reason for the delay and the Ford EcoSport uses 70% local content, which will help the company in aggressive pricing of their Urban SUV. The EcoSport is the most ambitious project at Ford India and the company believes the EcoSport is a game changer for both Ford India and the Indian automobile industry. Ford assures us the EcoSport will be priced with a similar strategy as the Figo (aka value for money). The launch takes place next month and the American automaker will develop an insane number of variants for the export market. The wait has been very long but has it been worth it? We soak in some Goa sun and find out how Ford’s Urban SUV fares.
Exteriors – Ford has taken the size of its compact SUV too seriously and thus the EcoSport is really compact. With its under 4-metre length, the EcoSport is as long as a premium hatchback. One look and you instantly find the EcoSport tiny. However the tall dimensions and flared wheel arches give it good presence on the road. The production model almost resembles the concept version and the styling is quite aggressive. However the headlights have been changed on the production model and there are no LEDs. The wrap around headlights look mean with the laser cut appearance, while the round fog lights get chrome surrounds and jut out of the body. The front looks butch with the large hexagonal grille (very Audi like, after all J Mays has designed the EcoSport, who was earlier in Audi and worked on the original TT in 1994) being the most attractive part of the vehicle. The character lines on the bonnet flow smoothly and join the A-pillar, further extending to the rear of the car.
Come to the side and the Ford EcoSport reveals its rather tiny proportions with the body lines moving upwards. The 15-inch wheels don’t do justice to the car but the top end variants get 16-inch wheels which fill the wheel arches quite well. The EcoSport gets pull out type door handles and rear view mirrors which have turn indicators on them. The 200 mm ground clearance gives the EcoSport quite a lot of SUV cred but it’s really the tailgate mounted spare wheel which shouts SUV. The wheels have been placed on the corner to give the EcoSport a planted feel even while standing still. While its close rivals also boast of a similar ground clearance, the EcoSport has the highest water wading capacity in its class (550 mm against the Duster’s 350 mm).
Other SUV elements include roof rails, wraparound rear windscreen and black body cladding running on the lower side of the entire car (below the doors, forming lower part of the front bumper, lip spoiler and the entire rear bumper, thereby being cost effective while at the same visually pleasing). Ford says the design is very aerodynamic and has been wind tunnel tested for optimum efficiency (the co-efficient of drag is just 0.371 but weirdly the global EcoSport is more slippery at 0.365). Then there is the neatly integrated boot lid opener, inside the right rear tail lamp assembly. An integrated rear spoiler is also part of the package. The lower part of the rear bumper gets reflectors and reversing lamps. The position of the reverse lamps offers good rear illumination while reversing but won’t be easily visible to others. There are stoppers on the rear bumpers but there are no rear fog lamps. The exhaust has been hidden below the bumper on the right side and is not visible.
The roof rails have some buttons on it, which we are told is for an after market net. The approach angle of 25 degrees and departure angle of 35 degrees means you can take the EcoSport on almost any road without worrying about scraping the underbody. However there is no engine guard, another cost cutting measure. Ford will offer a range of accessories for the EcoSport (there are 15 accessories including a side step). The design is certainly going to please young buyers but its more of a love it, hate it appearance. We are however certain that most people are going to be pleased by the EcoSport’s SUVish stance and exterior appeal. One glance and the muscular body panels will surely capture your senses.
Indian vs Global EcoSport - Ford says the Indian and global EcoSport are identical in design. The company has made minor changes to duck the vehicle under the 4-metre length. This change is so minor, that when a Brazilian model is parked right next to the India version, one can’t make out any difference. This is because a very minor reduction has been made on the front bumper and thus all EcoSports sold globally are identical in dimensions to the Indian model. Some markets get a spare wheel cover, which will be offered as an accessory in India.
The EcoSport does stand out on the road and looks rich and poised, and its only the side profile which reveals the small proportions of this urban dweller.
Head over to the next page to read about the interiors of the Ford EcoSport.