Ford EcoSport: An affordable SUV for Indian market

Global auto major Ford launched its much anticipated compact sports utility vehicle `EcoSport` this week. The market is abuzz with comparisons between EcoSport and Sedans as well as SUVs.

Vehicles like Maruti Swift Dzire, Honda Amaze as well as the Renault Duster have been facing constant comparisons with the new EcoSport even before the latter was launched.

Will Ford’s new car be able to live up to the hype? Will it become a game changer in the Indian car segment? Murad Ali Baig, Automobile Expert, in a candid interview with Reema Sharma of shares his views on the car.


How will the Ford EcoSport perform in the Indian market?

It is big enough to carry five passengers with their luggage but small enough to be convenient for city driving as well. In addition to it, the car has big 16” wheels and a high ground clearance to take you over fairly rough roads. Its tiny 999 cc petrol engine delivers a huge 125 BHP, comparable to a normal 1600 cc engine. As it is a fuel miser, many buyers may find it of better value than the 91 HP 1500 cc TDCI diesel twin that is also available. All modern engines are very fuel efficient.

Will the aggressive pricing of the EcoSport shift the Sedan customer base?

Now that the price of the long awaited new Ford EcoSport has been announced, buyers can get themselves a very versatile car with a revolutionary engine. I believe the EcoSport will be a game changer and get good sales not only from the SUV segment but also from the huge large hatchback and small saloon segments too. It has a great performance. It will compete across many segments.

Do you think the specification of the vehicle is as good as any other premier SUV?

The EcoSport may not be a true SUV, but is `macho’ enough for any urban cowboy. It is a two-wheel drive and not a true blue SUV, but then most Indian SUV buyers opt for a two-wheel drive. I was able to test drive it on a 200 KM stretch in Goa and was surprised that a small 3-cylinder engine could deliver so much power from low revs. It also had such a huge torque that I could have driven the entire route in 3rd gear, in which it could easily accelerate from low speeds to 90 KMPH. It was almost like driving with automatic gears.

Are you satisfied with the performance of the car?

This revolutionary new `EcoBoost’ turbocharged engine, with direct fuel injection and variable valve timing, was selected as the `Engine of the Year’ last year. It is good looking in a chunky way that is common to all SUVs and also offered a good ride, handling and steering control on the twisty track that had a few bad patches. It may not have been a great sprinter but accelerated easily to hit 130 KMPH on the few clear patches. It felt assured at all speeds.

There was plenty of inside space in this car that is just a whisker shorter than 4 meters in length for easier parking. The high seat position offers good visibility and easy entry and exits. The attractive dashboard with an angular design looks like something out of a stealth bomber, but comes loaded with every mod con that young drivers would desire.

The Ford Sync takes `hands free’ driver communications to a whole new level, with a system that allows voice controls not only for the music system but also for the complete management of mobile telephony and messaging.

Is the price of the car satisfactory?

Though the range starts at a very attractive price of Rs. 5.59 lakhs, this is surprisingly for the 112 HP 1500 cc petrol model while the revolutionary new 125 HP, 999 cc petrol model will cost Rs. 7.90 lakhs.

But the former is the base Ambiante model while the latter is for the top trim Titanium model that also has an automatic AC, multi information computer, music system, leather wrapped steering, more chrome, driver seat adjustment, driver armrest, reclining rear seats and several other goodies. There is also a 91 HP, 1500 cc Ambiante diesel option priced at Rs. 6.69 lakhs and a 1500 cc Titanium petrol model with automatic gears at Rs. 8.90 lakhs.