Ford EcoSport Automatic Review
Car Tested: 2013 Ford EcoSport 1.5-litre Petrol PowerShift Automatic (Titanium)
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 10.01 lakhs
The EcoSport Automatic offers the practicality of an SUV coupled with a stress free driving experience.
Automatic cars are becoming increasingly popular in India as traffic woes are only increasing and people want to reduce stress of commuting. However there is one big glitch with automatic cars. All mass market automatic vehicles have a plain-jane autobox which might offer the convenience of driving but is no fun. Ford can be credited for changing this outlook as the company brought in the PowerShift gearbox on the new Fiesta last year. The 6-speed unit is really advanced and at the time of launch, it was by far the best automatic gearbox in a ‘made in India’ vehicle. Things have now changed with the arrival of the 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox in the Volkswagen Polo TSI which is quite advanced too and comes in at a cheaper price. However what Volkswagen doesn’t give you is the peace of mind usually associated with an automatic version. The DSG unit is yet to prove itself (notorious for blowing up, costing an arm or leg to repair) but Ford’s PowerShift gearbox is known to be trouble free. We drive the Ford EcoSport powered by the 1.5-litre petrol engine, mated to the tech laden PowerShift gearbox and come out quite pleased with its performance.
The styling of the Ford EcoSport is the biggest attraction for buyers. Ford have got the design spot on and even though the vehicle is just 4-metres long, it doesn’t look small when viewed from the front or rear. It is just the side profile which reveals its small length which is no bigger than a premium hatchback (like the Hyundai i20). The front end with its raised bonnet and big grille is massively appealing while the tail gate mounted spare wheel is the highlight at the rear. The kinetic blue colour looks very good on the EcoSport and paint quality is excellent too. No PowerShift or Automatic badging is present on the EcoSport AT, even the engine name isn’t mentioned anywhere on the outside.
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Step inside and you are greeted by Fiesta like interiors. The driving position is spot on although a few blind spots do hinder you. The seats are extremely supportive and there is good amount of room to seat 4 passengers in comfort. The Ford EcoSport Automatic is only offered in Titanium trim, which is quite different from the regular Titanium variant. In the automatic variant, you don’t get button start or keyless entry but you do get 6 airbags. Other features offered on the Automatic variant which are missing in other EcoSport variants include EPC, TCS, EBA and Hill Launch Assist. Rest of the equipment remains the same and Ford has been quite generous in this regard offering quite a lot on the vehicle including climate control, SYNC, steering mounted audio controls, rear parking sensors, 16-inch alloy wheels, etc.
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The 1.5-litre petrol engine is a decent motor, outputting a respectable 112 PS of power at 6300 RPM and 140 Nm of torque at 4400 RPM. No matter how hard you try, the EcoSport AT won’t spin its wheels as the vehicle gets TCS (can’t be turned off) which improves traction. Low end performance is good although the mid-range isn’t race inducing. Although the EcoSport is very well insulated, the motor makes itself heard right from 2000 RPM and the exhaust note is a bit sporty at higher part of the power band, we certainly like it. First gear is good for 43 km/hr, second will see 78 km/hr while you will hit 110 km/hr in third. The EcoSport Automatic should nudge past 100 km/hr from standstill in a decent 13.25 seconds with the top speed being around the 165 km/hr mark. Those looking at getting the manual version of the 1.5-litre petrol EcoSport will find the performance from the engine more than adequate for city driving while on the highways, downshifts will be needed to get moving swiftly. The motor does rev very freely but feels a bit coarse at certain parts of the power band.
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The 6-speed PowerShift gearbox uses a twin-clutch setup which leads to very quick shifts with the petrol motor giving the vehicle decent performance. Other than the normal P, R, N and D modes, you also have S mode, where the transmission becomes more eager and shifts very quickly, taking the vehicle to redline every time. The PowerShift autobox upshifts seamlessly but is not so eager to downshift and you really have to give the throttle the beans to move quickly at times as the Ti-VCT engine needs to be on the boil for quick progress. That said, the overall performance from the 6-speed automatic is excellent and it keeps the fun quotient pretty high.
You can also manually shift gears using the up and down buttons on the right side of the gear lever, which works only in S mode. However paddle shifts would be more than welcome. The PowerShift transmission understands your requirements and shifts gears at lower RPMs in D mode to felicitate fuel economy, which is an ARAI certified 15.6 km/l (just 0.2 km/l less than the manual). One can expect the EcoSport Automatic to deliver around 9-10 km/l in city conditions.
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Ford is known for setting up their chassis’ brilliantly and the EcoSport is no different. The balance between ride and handling is excellent although the steering could do with a bit more feel at high speeds. The suspension is a bit on the stiffer side but ride quality is pliant and only sharp bumps unsettle the vehicle. High speed composure is simply excellent and so are the brakes on the EcoSport but the tendency to nose dive under hard braking is present. Mysteriously our test car came shod with Goodyear Assurance tyres while the spare wheel was an MRF ZV2K make.
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Driving convenience with the peace of mind in ownership is vital when buying an advanced automatic gearbox equipped vehicle. Ford has covered all the basics and the EcoSport Automatic is easily the cheapest, most advanced and easy to live with automatic vehicle in the market today. While there could be more oomph from the engine, the PowerShift gearbox offers good performance in most conditions (including upslopes and downslopes where the hill hold assist activates brakes for 3 seconds giving you time to move your foot from the brake to the accelerator without rolling back). The EcoSport Automatic costs Rs. 2.01 lakhs less than the Fiesta Automatic (the only extra is the leather seats in the Fiesta), making it a bargain for those looking for a stress free driving experience without compromising on the fun factor.
The 6-speed PowerShift gearbox in the Ford EcoSport shows that you can have your cake and eat it too. Not only does it make driving convenient, but fun too.
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* Aggressive price
* Feature loaded
* Dual clutch transmission
What’s Not So Cool
* Down shifts not quick enough at times
* Engine could do with more pep
Further Reading –
Ford EcoSport Test Drive Review
Ford EcoSport Diesel Review
Ford EcoSport Video Review
Ford EcoSport vs Renault Duster
Ford EcoSport vs Fiat Avventura
Renault Duster vs Ford EcoSport vs Nissan Terrano
Maruti S-Cross vs Ford EcoSport vs Renault Duster