The Ecosport is another great product from Ford after the Figo and it has good space on the inside. The quality is decent and the flexibility that the SUV offers on space is terrific.
Ed’s take: The interior styling of the Ecosport is similar to that of the Fiesta, with a cockpit like design. Interiors are spacious, be the front or the rear row.
Ford has designed the Ecosport as a vehicle for technology lovers, and hence the company has made the instrument panel like an aircraft cockpit. It gets several features like number pad, and climate control. The instrument binnacle is also easy to read. Ford is the first manufacturer to introduce SYNC in a car. This is a feature with with, you do not just have phone connectivity, but also voice command control and create customised applications for the car, just like the smart phones in the market.
The space on offer is good and the front seats are well designed with good back and adjustable lumbar, though they lack that extra thigh support that we were so used to on the Fiesta. The rear seats can be reclined too, and have three stages of adjustment. The seats have a 60:40 split and even one seat can be folded if there is a need for one to be folded only. The boot is well spaced, but not sufficient for luggage of five people.
It is only the interiors of the Duster that failed to appeal us. The plastic quality isn’t up to the mark, even though the fit and finish is decent. The space in the Duster is just phenomenal, with large and supportive seats.
The interior quality on the Duster is decent. It isn’t phenomenal for its price, but it is good enough. The overall fit and finish of the plastics is good, but it is the feel that doesn’t impress. Even the inside has been designed ergonomically. The black and beige interiors look good and feel premium, as most of the Indians consider beige to be superior over black or grey.
There is loads of space in the front row and the Duster doesn’t feel cramped. The seating is a bit low, but the view is good as the overall visibility of the car is good. The support offered by the seats is good for the back and the thigh. Move into the second row and there will be no disappointment with the space for your knee and head. The space is immense and so is the thigh support. Even the boot is large for 4 people’s luggage. The Duster comes with a dealer fitment option of two additional seats forming the third row.
The Duster comes in three variants, RxE, RxL and RxZ. The latter two come with option packs as well. The RxE is the base model and it comes with basic features like black interiors, keyless entry, power windows. It misses out on airbags and also on ABS.
The RxL is the mid-model and it gets additional features like rear defogger and wiper, front fog lamps, trendy beige fabric seats, the centre console becomes glossy black instead of the charcoal black, electrically adjustable ORVMs, integrated music system with four speakers and USB connectivity, on board computer, glove box lamp and reading lamps being the major upgrades.
The RxZ is the top of the line version and it comes fully loaded with various bells and whistles like dual airbags, ABS, reverse parking sensor, driver seat reminder, body coloured door mirrors with satin, rear AC blower, leather wrapped steering wheel. These are the major add-ons, except for those that were already mentioned in the RxL.
Ford seems to have a winner in its hand with the Ecosport, the diesel will definitely be the choice for many, as petrol is still expensive and the Ecoboost isn’t as efficient as diesel.
Ford believes this engine can change the concept of petrol cars in India, as it is as powerful as a 1.6-litre petrol and more efficient too. This is a three-cylinder mill that churns 122bhp of power and 170Nm of torque. This engine weighs about 97kgs, and is about 18kgs lighter than 1.5-litre. There is no feel of turbo lag, and the engine pulls without any hesitation even when heaved into a higher cog. Get behind the steering wheel, and you realise that this isn’t a1.0-litre engine by any means. The turbocharger helps to change this thought and the Ecosport is definitely good to drive in city and also on open road.
It doesn’t idle like a three-pot mill and there is no vibration or screaming that can indicate the size of the engine. The power delivery is linear and the turbo spools from about 1600-1700rpm, and remains flat almost up to 4300rpm. Another good thing about this engine is the NVH.
The 1.5-litre petrol engine on Fiesta produces 108bhp at 6045rpm and 140Nm at 4500rpm. The NVH level of this engine is low. Since the engine has been tuned for better economy, one cannot expect a stonker of a performer. In the manual version, the engine feels a bit languorous and makes you work hard to extract performance.
The five-speed box does feel a bit rubbery, but that’s about it. The shifts on it are positive and the throws are short. The automatic on the other hand has the dual-clutch six-speed box makes things easier as downshifting is taken care by the intelligent box. Simply put, there are two clutches, one operates the odd gears and the other engages the even lot. This reduces the change time and so the shifts are smooth and not lethargic unlike the conventional boxes. Drive it in D mode and the transmission shifts considering the best fuel economy, whereas the L mode is similar to the sport mode, where the box doesn’t upshift until the engine redlines. Of course there are a few downsides of this box, as it does not have Tiptronic or comes with flappy paddle shifters.
The 1.5-litre diesel engine produces 89bhp of power at 3750rpm and 204Nm at 2000rpm. This engine has decent NVH levels. It has good initial torque with a strong mid-range. However, the engine feels sluggish at low rpms. The turbo lag does exist. However, once in the power band, the engine is fantastic to drive. The power produced by the diesel engine is excellent and it does a tidy job, as even the clutch is light and easy to drive in city traffic.
Manual Transmission: The five-speed manual that comes mated to this engine is wee bit rubbery, but that’s about it. The shifts are almost positive, while the throws remain short.
With the Duster being a compact SUV, most of the buyers will prefer the 85bhp 1.5litre diesel engine. This engine has good drivability and sufficient torque to potter around in the city. There is no turbo lag either and it does make its case for a good buy.
The Duster comes with a 1.6-litre petrol engine that produces 102bhp of power at 5850rpm and a torque of 145Nm at 3750rpm. This is a four-cylinder that earlier powered the Logan. It comes mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. The NVH levels are fairly refined and the engine isn’t noisy. The power delivery is linear and the shifts on the box are also good. For quick overtaking one has to downshift as the power is most available in the higher rev range. The ARAI mileage for the petrol version of the Duster is 13.4kmpl.
Duster comes with two power ratings in the diesel variant. One is 85bhp and the other is 108bhp. The 84bhp is available on the RxE and RxL trim levels. This is the same engine that powers the Nissan Sunny as well. The NVH (noise vibration and harshness) levels on the diesel Duster are quiet low and Renault has done a fabulous job on reducing the clatter. This version of the Duster produces 84 bhp at 3750rpm of power and 200Nm of torque at 1900rpm. The power delivery is good enough and the engine is fairly drivable even when in the city. Overtaking in the city is easy and most of the time a downshift is required. The 5-speed transmission is good enough and the shifts are positive. The ARAI claimed fuel efficiency of the 84bhp Duster is 20.64kmpl.
The 108bhp of the Duster is available only with RxL and RxZ trim levels. This engine produces 108bhp of power at 3900rpm and a maximum torque of 248Nm at an engine speed of 2250rpm. The refinement level of the engine is the same, as the lower powered diesel engine, and there is no clatter drama. Once you pass 1800rpm, there is sufficient power to lug around the town. For better utilization of power, this engine comes mated to a 6-speed manual box than a 5-speed that powers the de-tuned version of this K9K engine. The shifts on this 6-speed manual box are also smooth and positive. However, there is a drop in fuel economy by ARAI standards to 19.1kmpl. On the highway, the sixth-gear will help to increase the fuel efficiency.
Ford vehicles are known for their driving dynamics, be it the Fiesta, Figo or even the old Classic and the Ikon. The same DNA has been trickled down on the Ecosport as well. The ride of this compact SUV is well sorted as it irons out all the bumps and rough surfaces without any jittery feeling for the occpuants. The suspension does a good job of adsorbing the bumps even on bad roads and uneven surfaces.
The handling is good for a vehicle with 200mm of ground clearance and yet it feels planted on the road, as if stuck like glue. There is no body roll, and Ecosport drives like a sedan. It doesn’t feel heavy and big to drive like SUVs, which makes it easy to drive in urban conditions. Driving around winding roads is fun and even the feedback from the steering wheel is good. The short turning radius and light steering makes it convenient to park.
The Duster excels in the ride and handling department. It doesn’t just have a well sorted ride, but even the handling is good for its size and ground clearance. So, the Duster is makes a strong case for itself.
The Duster is based on the Logan platform and so it gets independent McPherson strut with coil springs & anti-roll bar at its front and torsion beam axle with coil springs & anti-roll bar at its rear. The ride of the Duster is fairly supple. All the road shocks are absorbed by the utility vehicle and the occupants get a smooth ride. The ride is similar even at higher speeds.
The handling of the Duster is similar to that of a sedan. It can be chucked around corners and its chassis responds well. Despite the high ground clearance the handling characteristics of the Duster are good. The steering wheel also is light at low speeds and weighs up well as the vehicle gathers speed.