Shootout: Ford EcoSport vs Mahindra TUV300
Shootout No. 144
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 8.11 – 12.76 lakhs (Ford EcoSport), Rs. 8.42 – 11.09 lakhs (Mahindra TUV300)
The TUV300 is new but Ford has just launched the EcoSport facelift to maintain its position
Cars are like Bollywood movies, the plot always consists of murder and revenge. A good story consists of three people, the hero, villain and the third person doesn’t matter. Mahindra’s Quanto (third person here) was killed by the Ford EcoSport (the accused villain here) and younger sibling TUV300 (trying to be hero here) is all set to take revenge. But is it happy ending like typical Hindi films or does the villain turn out to be the real hero, after all it’s good to be bad! To find out, we had to put these two cars in a shootout, only this time they also went through some technical tests for a more scientific result.
Motor Quest: The second generation Ford EcoSport made its world debut in India, a day prior to the 2012 Auto Expo. Ford took some time to put the vehicle into the market, launching it in mid-2013. The Mahindra TUV300 was launched in late 2015 and temporarily fits in the shoes of the low selling Quanto.
Styling – While the Ford EcoSport got a facelift recently, there is not much on the outside to signify the same (other than the LED light guides, DRLs on the fog lamps and the new brown colour scheme), thus, the Mahindra TUV300 continues to be the fresher car here but not necessarily the better looking. With its boxy design and taller height, compared to the EcoSport which is more curvy, the Mahindra vehicle does look more SUV than the Ford. However, the design on the TUV300 isn’t original as we can see a lot of influence from Land Rover and Jeep.
The TUV’s design isn’t going to impress many while the EcoSport looks good
Both cars duck under the 4-metre mark to benefit from lower excise duty. Both also use chrome too liberally at the front with the grille and even the fog lamp surround getting this touch which many Indians find as premium. The EcoSport’s bigger 16-inch wheels do a better job of filing the wheel arches while the 15-inchers on the TUV make it look a bit under-tyred. The black body cladding lower down on the EcoSport does give it some SUV cred and there are certain elements which the TUV300 should have sported for a more SUV appeal.
Interiors – The Mahindra TUV300 gets dual tone interiors which look quite appealing but the all-black cabin of the Ford EcoSport is sporty. Fit-finish and quality is better on the American car but the Indian vehicle has some interesting features like static bending lights, voice assist, side foot steps, Eco mode for AC and engine, micro-hybrid start/stop technology, spare wheel cover (not present on the base T4) and an extra 2-seats. That’s right, the TUV300 is a 7-seater but the last row of jump seats are best used by no one because there are no seat belts there.
The TUV300 is more practical but the EcoSport is loaded, has better quality
The Ford EcoSport also has its own set of unique equipment like keyless go, tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment, push button start, automatic climate control, automatic headlights, emergency assistance, speed alarm, side and curtain airbags, automatic wipers and auto dimming IRVM. The Mahindra TUV300 boasts of more space inside its wider cabin, offering more legroom (marginally more), kneeroom, headroom and boot space (by 42-litres but the last row of seats eat into it) compared to the Ford EcoSport but the latter has more comfortable seats, both at the front and rear (seat angle can be adjusted). It’s also easier to get in and out of the EcoSport while the TUV300 feels more airy. The Mahindra has more storage bins inside the cabin, it also has the better headlight offering superior illumination at night.
Performance – SUVs are usually diesel powered or so is the belief in India and thus the Mahindra TUV300 only comes with a diesel engine. Meanwhile, Ford offers the EcoSport with two petrol engines, a tech-fest of a 1.0-litre EcoBoost unit that belts out 125 PS and 170 Nm, matched to a 5-speed manual gearbox and a 1.5-litre Ti-VCT mill that generates 112 PS and 140 Nm, it is matched to both a 5-speed manual and a 6-speed PowerShift automatic gearbox. So if you are looking at a petrol SUV among the two, the EcoSport is your only option.
Drivability in the TUV300 is better but it lacks the punch which the EcoSport has
Coming to the diesel engine, Ford has a big advantage on paper with the 1.5-litre TDI motor belting out 100 PS and 205 Nm. Meanwhile, the TUV300’s 1.5-litre engine is a cylinder down and also lower on output belting out 85 PS although torque is impressive at 230 Nm. With the TUV being heavier, it is also slower than the EcoSport, not just in the 0-100 km/hr sprint but also in in-gear acceleration as per our VBOX tests (table below). The TUV300 does have good city performance as turbo lag is better contained than the EcoSport but the 3-pot mill tends to run out of breath fairly quickly.
Thus one needs to work the gearbox a lot on the Mahindra TUV300 and that is amplified on the highways as the car runs out of steam quite quickly. The EcoSport feels very punchy and all those 100 horses makes the Ford accelerate hard on the open road, ensuring an overtake is just a full throttle away. The refinement of the mHawk80 engine is good for a 3-cylinder engine but it gets quite vocal in the top-end and isn’t as refined as the EcoSport. The TUV also gets an Eco mode for the engine and that dulls performance even further.
Even with Eco mode and micro-hybrid tech on board, the Mahindra TUV300 isn’t as efficient as the Ford EcoSport, returning a claimed mileage of 18.49 km/l, the American car managing 22.27 km/l (ARAI numbers). In the real world, the EcoSport diesel ends up returning 2 km/l more mileage while the TUV has a bigger fuel tank by 8-litres. Both cars come with a 5-speed gearbox but the clutch on the EcoSport has a more progressive feel and the gearbox also offers smoother shifts. Mahindra does offer a 5-speed AMT box on the TUV and while that offers the convenience of an automatic, the driving experience isn’t great with the transmission offering jerky shifts, an Achilles’ heel of an automated manual gearbox.
Driving Dynamics – There is a huge difference between these cars when it comes to underpinnings. The Ford EcoSport uses a monocoque platform and is thus lighter, it channels power to the front wheels. The Mahindra TUV300 is based on the Scorpio’s platform and is thus a rear-wheel drive vehicle with a body-on-frame platform, resulting in 300 kgs of extra weight. Being taller doesn’t help matters either and there is much more body roll on the TUV300 which simply doesn’t feel comfortable going fast around corners. The EcoSport handles much better and drives like a car while the Mahindra does give the SUV feel with the commanding driving position which many will appreciate. That said, the all-terrain tyres on the TUV don’t offer the grip that the EcoSport’s road tyres do.
The EcoSport is car-like to drive while the TUV has the SUV feel due to its platform
The steering feel on the Ford EcoSport is better too and it feels more responsive through corners, having better stability than the Mahindra TUV300. The trade-off in handling has been covered up by the ride quality as the TUV300 does do a better job of absorbing bad bumps, however it does tend to get a bit bouncy at the rear, something the EcoSport doesn’t. The higher profile rubber helps the Mahindra while the EcoSport has 10 mm more ground clearance but the TUV is more off-road friendly. The brakes on the EcoSport are stronger and there is less of a nose dive as compared to the three-double-o.
Safety and After Sales Service – Both cars get ABS and dual front airbags on the top variant while the EcoSport’s Trend trim has ABS and the Trend+ gets dual airbags (only the base Ambiente misses out on the safety feature). Mahindra also offers ABS and front airbags as an option on all trims of the TUV300. The EcoSport also gets the option of side airbags (taking the total airbags to six) on the top trim along with ISOFIX seats for mounting a child seat, while the automatic variant also gets ESP, TCS and hill launch assist. The EcoSport’s SYNC system also gets Emergency Assistance which will automatically call an emergency hotline in case of an accident. Mahindra has more dealerships than Ford in India but the service of the latter is better.
Verdict – The TUV300 is a fitting replacement to the Quanto but the hero doesn’t win because although the Mahindra vehicle is significantly cheaper, it lacks in quite a few areas where the Ford EcoSport performs brilliantly well. The American SUV is not only better to drive, it also looks better, has superior quality, is more comfortable and is safer too. The recent update to the EcoSport has made it an even better package and with demand shifting towards petrol cars, Ford does serve the needs of the market better with a fantastic EcoBoost mill on offer. It might cost more but the EcoSport is the easy pick of these two sub 4-metre compact SUVs.
Both these sub 4-metre compact SUVs are the most affordable of their kind in the Indian market and will give you high ground clearance, SUV bragging rights and ease of parking. Being urban SUVs, the TUV300 falters by being geared towards the rural audience.
Picture Editing – Sri Manikanta Achanta
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