Ford EcoSport vs Maruti S-Cross vs Renault Duster
Ford EcoSport vs Maruti S-Cross vs Renault Duster – Click above for high resolution picture gallery

Shootout: Ford EcoSport vs Maruti S-Cross vs Renault Duster

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 8.25 – 12.67 lakhs (Ford EcoSport), Rs. 11.05 – 15.83 lakhs (Maruti S-Cross), Rs. 9.57 – 15.91 lakhs (Renault Duster)

These three cars have a ton to offer and are very practical too, they have multiple abilities

While SUVs and crossovers have always been an imposing sight on Indian roads, it’s just lately that the mass market was able to buy cars of this body style. Both the Renault Duster and Ford EcoSport have sold in segment leading numbers in their hay days and can be credited for starting this trend of small isn’t bad when it is macho. Every once in a while a report comes along which states how the SUV segment is booming and as shocking as it may sound, India’s top car maker has no product on offer in this space. Things are set to change with the introduction of the Maruti S-Cross, a vehicle which is positioned as a crossover to take on the products from the American and French automakers at this price point. Can this Suzuki shake the segment or does the S-Cross not have what it takes to give the Ford EcoSport and Renault Duster a tough fisted fight?

Motor Quest: Auto Expo is the place to make debut of such cars and all three were displayed in concept form at the biennial event, the Renault and Ford in 2012 while the Maruti in 2014. The Duster was launched in 2012, the EcoSport came in 2013 while the S-Cross comes in 2015. All cars use extensive local materials.

The Renault Duster looks the most SUV with its flared wheel arches

Styling – One of the biggest reasons why the demand for mini SUVs or crossovers is increasing in India is the fact that they look butch. The Renault Duster and Ford EcoSport are called compact SUVs by their respective manufactures and do a fine job in the styling department as they carry the presence which attracts buyers. The S-Cross on the other hand is being positioned as a crossover and thus looks like a hatchback on steroids although it does have the customary SUV elements. Due to the design of the Suzuki, it tends to look small although the spec sheet says otherwise. The S-Cross is a tad less than the Duster in length, measuring 4.3 metres while the EcoSport ducks under the 4 metre mark, the spare wheel not considered.

The EcoSport’s tail gate mounted spare wheel gives it a lot of SUV appeal

The Duster & EcoSport have some road presence

It is the external tail gate mounted spare wheel which gives the EcoSport a very imposing stance and doesn’t make it look as small as its dimensions suggest. Meanwhile, the Duster has the most butch appearance here with its flared wheel arches and big double barrel headlights, the EcoSport using slimmer units while the S-Cross makes do with LED parking lights and a projector set-up for the main beam. The lower height on the S-Cross and lower ground clearance simply make it look meek in comparison to the other two cars here.

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The EcoSport has a big dashboard with comfortable seats although it has the least rear seat space

Interiors – Both the Ford EcoSport and Maruti S-Cross come with all black interiors but they get silver inserts on the dashboard and door pads for a sporty appeal. Meanwhile, the Renault Duster gets a grey and beige colour scheme with the seats getting a funky finishing. However, the French car simply feels lacking on multiple fronts in the cabin. The Duster simply doesn’t have the quality, design or features that the EcoSport and S-Cross boast off. In fact, quality inside the Maruti is the best, closely followed by the EcoSport although the Ford definitely feels better put together with superior build quality. The Duster also feels robust but does have some quality niggles and while the build is good, there are certain parts which feel out of place on the Renault.

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The S-Cross being the freshest car here, also looks the most appealing inside, has the most features and space

The S-Cross has a fantastic cabin with loads of space & equipment

The EcoSport has the biggest dashboard here and the Duster has the smallest while the S-Cross is the most loaded car of the lot. Both the Maruti and Ford get keyless go, push button start, voice commands (works better on the Maruti) and climate control AC, all of this is lacking on the Renault. The Duster and S-Cross get a touch-screen infotainment system (works better on the Maruti as the one on the Duster is a bit laggy), cruise control and a rear seat centre armrest which is missing on the EcoSport as the American car comes with a ton of buttons instead, a bit cluttery. The French vehicle is plagued with ergonomic issues (like the placement of the rearview mirror controls) while there are no such problems on the other cars except the big A-pillar on the EcoSport which takes some time getting used to.

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The Renault Duster’s interior looks pale in comparison to the other cars here, has the biggest boot though

All these cars come with good and comfortable seats, the front ones on the EcoSport being the best while the rear one on the S-Cross outshines the others. The Maruti also has the best rear seat space while the Duster comes in second and the EcoSport third although the order reverses when you consider headroom. The S-Cross has the most storage bins inside the cabin and also has the most equipment with features like electrically retracting rearview mirrors, automatic headlights, automatic wipers, Smartphone app and reverse camera (all cars get reverse parking sensors) which both the EcoSpot and Duster lack. There is no extra feature on the Duster while the EcoSport gets follow me home headlamps and six airbags (the top trim which gets side airbags misses out on roof mounted door handles), all three cars lacking rear AC vents with the unit on the Ford being the most chilling. Audio quality is the best in the EcoSport, followed closely by the S-Cross. When it comes to boot space, the Duster easily trumps both its rivals here with the biggest trunk while the S-Cross marginally beats the EcoSport by a mere 7-litres.

The EcoSport beats its rivals hands down when it comes to petrol engine performance

Performance – Let’s start with petrol engines because we have a clear winner there. Maruti isn’t offering a petrol S-Cross while Renault isn’t keen on selling a petrol powered Duster although it does come equipped with a 1.6-litre petrol motor (104 PS, 145 Nm) that offers decent performance. Meanwhile Ford offers the EcoSport with two engines – a 1.5L petrol producing 112 PS, 140 Nm and a multi award winning 1.0L EcoBoost 3-pot unit with 125 PS, 170 Nm. The EcoSport is also available with a state of the art 6-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, the only auto option among the trio. Coming to diesel engines, the more popular fuel of choice in this segment, both Maruti and Renault offer two diesel engines each. With the EcoSport diesel drawing power from a 1.5-litre motor that generates 91 PS and 204 Nm, the S-Cross’ 1.3-litre engine (90 PS, 200 Nm) and Duster 85 PS’ 1.5-litre unit (85 PS, 200 Nm) become the competing powertrains.

The S-Cross 1.3 and EcoSport diesel produce similar output but the Ford engine is better

The S-Cross has the strongest performance but lacks the low-end grunt of its rivals

The 8-valve dCi mill has the best low-end response here while the mid-range is the best in the EcoSport and the Fiat sourced motor too shines in the mid-range. But among these three engines, the Ford powerplant has the best blend of performance and drivability. The clutch is the lightest on the S-Cross while the gearbox on the EcoSport feels better than the others. Among these three cars, the S-Cross is the most frugal with the other two (Duster gets an Eco mode) following closely (for both 1.3 and 1.6 diesel engines). The Japanese crossover has the smallest fuel tank here at 48-litres with the Duster having a 2-litre bigger tank and the EcoSport has a 4-litre bigger tank. The Maruti also beats the others when it comes to outright acceleration, both the 1.3 and 1.6 engined S-Cross being faster than the Duster 85 PS and Duster 110 PS respectively.

The 110 PS diesel in the Duster can’t match the sheer performance of the S-Cross 1.6

The second diesel engine and the more powerful options only come with the Maruti S-Cross and Renault Duster. The French SUV uses the same 1.5-litre motor with improved hardware to generate 110 PS of power and 248 Nm of torque. Meanwhile, the Japanese crossover employs Fiat’s 1.6-litre MultiJet motor that belts out 120 PS and 320 Nm, both cars being matched to a 6-speed gearbox which offer smooth shifts and a light clutch too. With a lighter weight and more output, the S-Cross is naturally the better performer but there is quite a bit of lag and that’s where the Duster edges ahead as it has a better low-end punch for ambling around town. NVH levels are similar in all cars, with the diesel mill getting vocal at high revs but the Duster is a touch more silent, it also gets hydraulic struts for the boot opening.

The Duster is far ahead in the ride and handling department with its supreme dynamics

Driving Dynamics – The Renault Duster rules in front of the other two cars here when it comes to ride and handling. Neither the S-Cross, nor the EcoSport can match the Duster in driving feel and the way the Renault glides over the worst of roads. Meanwhile the EcoSport has better handling than the S-Cross but the Maruti rides much better, transferring less bumps to the cabin. The Duster is the most stable at high speeds while the S-Cross comes in second and the tall EcoSport isn’t as supremely glued as its rivals. The Duster has the highest ground clearance here of 205 mm while the EcoSport boasts of a 200 mm GC and the Maruti has the least at 180 mm. The S-Cross comes with all-wheel discs and braking performance is very good, so is the case with the Duster while the EcoSport has some nose dive under hard braking.

The S-Cross rides better than the EcoSport but doesn’t have the handling of the Ford

The Duster is the most dynamically rich car here

The steering wheel on the Ford EcoSport offers good feel and returns more feedback than the Maruti which has a bit of a slack off centre. The S-Cross has the lighter steering which helps in city driving and the turning radius is the same as the Duster which is less than the EcoSport. The Duster has the best steering feel and the steering offers over feedback on bad roads. What is lacking on the S-Cross and EcoSport are grippy tyres while the Duster has good rubber. Renault also offers an AWD version of the car, making the Duster off-road friendly (it also has the best approach and departure angles), the AWD model also getting ESP, ASR and HSA systems. The S-Cross misses out on these technologies which are also offered by Ford on the EcoSport automatic.

The EcoSport is the only car here which comes with the option of 6 airbags

Safety and After Sales Service – No, it’s not the S-Cross which has the best sales network here as Maruti will only retail this car through its new NEXA premium showrooms, just 30 outlets will be functional this year. However Maruti’s rock solid service will definitely benefit the crossover. Renault doesn’t have as big a dealer network as Ford and the latter also boasts of cheaper spares and its child parts strategy results in more affordable repair costs. The S-Cross got a 5-star in safety but the Indian model doesn’t get side airbags which the EcoSport gets as an option. Maruti is offering a driver side airbag as standard on all variants of the S-Cross while only the top trims of the Duster get airbags. Ford also offers Emergency Assistance with SYNC which dials an emergency number automatically in case of an accident.

The EcoSport is the most value for money car here thanks to the sub 4-metre length

Verdict – All these three cars are impressive in their own way so choosing one can be a bit difficult. There is no denying, the Duster has a lot going for it but so does the S-Cross and EcoSport. Where the S-Cross falls a bit short is in its appearance. It just doesn’t have the intimidating looks that buyers of this segment crave for, something the other two vehicles offer in abundance. The Duster does feel a bit pricey for what it offers as it lacks on the equipment front and the design is starting to show its age now. The EcoSport on the other hand offers terrific value for money and that advantage is courtesy the sub 4-metre length which bestows it with excise duty benefits. Ford will soon give its compact SUV an update which will make it even tougher to beat in the segment. Meanwhile the S-Cross is a great effort by Maruti Suzuki but is priced quite optimistically for the 1.6-litre version. Thus the Blue Oval continues to be our choice in this shootout.

The Maruti S-Cross is packed quite well but lacks the crucial butch design to make an impression. Meanwhile the Duster and EcoSport give the SUV feel which make them so popular in our country. The Ford is without doubt the most value for money vehicle in this trio which makes it an apt choice for the value conscious Indian car buyer.

The S-Cross is unlikely to eat into sales of its rivals but could woo sedan buyers

Testers’ Note:

“I am very impressed by the S-Cross, it offers an excellent cabin with plenty of space too. In fact, there is nothing wrong with the crossover other than the design which feels a bit lacking. The fact that Renault isn’t giving us the international Duster facelift is something which puts me off and while I am tempted to the AWD model, the price is too high for a car which is sold under a low cost brand overseas. The EcoSport strikes all the right chords and does everything quite well without being as expensive, making it my pick among the three.” – Faisal Khan, Editor, MotorBeam.
“The S-Cross is one seriously impressive car and it looks to be a good replacement for my Swift. However the styling is a little bland to my taste as it is not very butch or muscular like the Duster or EcoSport with which it competes. Both the Ford and Renault have made a huge impact in the market but the Duster doesn’t do justice to its price tag in terms of quality or equipment. The EcoSport meanwhile offers more bang for the buck and would be my choice.” – Dr. Javeid Khan, Deputy Editor, MotorBeam.

You can’t go wrong with either of these three cars as they have a ton to offer

Further Reading –

Maruti S-Cross Review
Ford EcoSport Review
Ford EcoSport Diesel Review
Ford EcoSport Automatic Review
2015 Renault Duster Review
Renault Duster Long Term Review
Ford EcoSport vs Renault Duster
Ford EcoSport vs Fiat Avventura
Renault Duster vs Nissan Terrano
Renault Duster vs Ford EcoSport vs Nissan Terrano
Renault Duster vs Hyundai Creta vs Mahindra XUV500
Renault Duster vs Mahindra Scorpio vs Tata Safari
Renault Duster vs Tata Safari vs Mahindra XUV500 vs Skoda Yeti
Renault Duster vs Mahindra XUV500 vs Hyundai Creta – Video

Picture Editing – Sri Manikanta Achanta