First Drive Review: Ford Ecosport S
The Figo S is a scorcher. The folks at evo India’s office never wanted to let go of the long termer’s keys and we all swear by the tiny hatchback’s handling abilities and powerful motor that feels like a petrol. However, Ford has been known to make the best driver’s cars since its debut over 20 years ago. Be it the Mondeo, Ikon 1.6, Fiestas and the first generation Figo. And now Ford has brought an S variant of its mini SUV, the Ecosport. The expectations are high as it also debuts the previously discontinued 1-litre Ecoboost engine. Can it carry forward the brand’s legacy? Let’s find out.
Ford has added two new variants to the latest generation Ecosport, which was launched barely six months ago. The Signature trim is based on the Titanium variant but gets a sunroof, blue interior inserts, chrome grille, roof rails, 17-inch wheels and the option of 1.5-litre petrol and diesel powertrains . The top-of-the-line ‘S’ trim gets sunroof, orange interior inserts, 4.2-inch instrument cluster display, matte black wheels (17-inch) and grille, black roof and HID headlamps. The main addition to the S variant is the option of the Ecoboost engine with the Freestyle derived 6-speed gearbox, along with the 1.5-litre diesel motor. The suspension has been tweaked on the S variant, and the steering too has been re-calibrated for maximum driver involvement, without sacrificing on the ride quality.
“The main addition to the S variant is the option of the Ecoboost engine”
How’s the new Ford Ecosport S to drive?
We drove the S variant with the Ecoboost engine under the hood on the East Coast Route (ECR), on the outskirts of Chennai. The motor still makes 123bhp at 6000rpm and 170Nm at 1500-4500rpm. On the 4-laned highway, we could really stretch the legs of the Ford and it does have long legs. The 5th and 6th gear ratios are overdrive and help you cruise comfortably. Overtaking isn’t a problem as long as you’re in the turbo threshold range which starts at about 1750rpm, revving all the way to the 6500rpm redline. There’s no sudden outburst of torque unlike in other turbocharged petrol cars, making it an effortless drive. 100kmph comes in at just about 2200rpm in the sixth cog and we are sure the Ecosport S will be able to achieve Autobahn speeds if pushed to the redline.
To maximise power output from a tiny A4-sized sheet of a three-cylinder engine, Ford has given it a very large turbo. The turbo whistle is addictive and sounds very dramatic. The engine has won the ‘International Engine of the Year’ award six times in a row, combining the best of efficiency and power. We were steadily averaging over 14kmpl during the drive, even though the car was fully loaded and being pushed.
“The engine has won the ‘International Engine of the Year’ award six times in a row, combining the best of efficiency and power.”
Ride and handling?
We couldn’t really test the handling prowess of the Ecosport S as the ECR offers no set of twisties. Only straight four-laned stretches of smooth tarmac. The steering feels direct though and moves with the slight bit of input. At high speeds, it gives the driver a lot of feedback to push further, giving maximum confidence.
The ride quality is very ‘European’ with the undulations being filtered at high speeds while at low speeds you can feel the suspension doing its work. There are no complaints when it comes to the ride quality though. Combined with a ground clearance of 200mm and compliant suspension, the Ecosport is capable of handling bad roads at high speeds without any fuss.
“The Ecosport is capable of handling bad roads at high speeds without any fuss.”
Priced at Rs. 11.37 lakh, the Ecosport S packs in a lot of kit along with that Ecoboost engine. You can also have it in diesel guise, which comes at a price of Rs 11.89 lakh (both prices, ex-showroom Delhi). Like the Figo S, the Ecosport S caters to the niche class of customers, who prefer the Thrill of Driving. But it still is practical, thanks to its long list of creature comforts and a pliant suspension setup. Don’t expect the Ecoboost to turn it into a rocket though, as it is a very heavy car, weighing a hefty 1281kg. Now, if Ford puts that engine in the Figo S, I’m ready to sign my cheque. Ford India, hope you’re listening.