Plotting a Raised-hatch
The compact SUV is one of the fastest growing segments in India. Renault Duster was the first in the segment to be a runaway success, on the other hand now Ford has launched the Ecosport after about one and half years after displaying the vehicle for the first-time at the 2012 Auto Expo.
People have been waiting for the Cosport to come and Ford has taken its own time to localise the product and assure everything is in place. We finally get our hands on the Ford Ecosport and drive it back-to-back with the Renault Duster. Read further, as we share our thoughts on the two.
Design is very subjective topic hence it depends on who likes what. The Duster looks like a muscular SUV, with its flared haunches and wide stance. The front chrome grille gives it a premium feel, while the headlamps meld with this overall design. The shallow greenhouse area and the roof-rails make the outline look aggressive. The haunches at the rear and the bulges near the tail lamps add on the on-steroids look.
On the other hand, the Ecosport looks like a raised version of a hatchback. The front design has been tweaked from the Fiesta, giving it a more contemporary styling. The trapezoidal grille and the sleek headlamps add more glam to the styling. The blacked-out rocker and the stylish grab door handles contribute to the styling. The rear looks attractive too with the spare wheel mounted on the tailgate.
Interior is where one spends most of his/her time. Hence, these are one of the most important areas in any vehicle. The Duster has spacious interiors, but the quality of plastics is one area of concern. The fit and finish is fine, however it is the feel of the materials that needs some improvement. The Duster gets several bells and whistles like steering column mounted audio controls, Bluetooth, touchscreen navigation (only on the RxZ diesel) and several other features.
It takes some time for one to get used to the Duster, as the mirror adjustment is below the hand brake, and the jock dial on the steering column isn’t visible and even the power on and off for the music system isn’t the thick centre button. The front row seats are also large and comfortable. However the second row of seats lack that extra thigh support. For the RxZ variant, the AC vent at the centre reduces the legroom if three people are seated. The boot of the Duster is large enough to gobble luggage for all five people for an entire weekend.
The Ecosport has trendy interiors with the centre console feels like a cockpit that separates the driver and co-driver’s side. Despite being sub 4-metre Ford has utilised the space to its maximum efficiency. The space is both the rows is decent, however the thigh support could have been better. The boot isn’t that massive, but it is good enough to take luggage for two to three people. The interiors of the Ecosport come loaded with Bluetooth, Sync, steering mounted audio controls. The stowage space on the Ecosport is also fantastic, as one can put two one litre bottles in one front door pad. The Ecosport gets an edge over the Duster in interior quality, while the Duster wins it in its roomy interiors.
The Duster comes with one petrol engine and two variants in the diesel, while the Ecosport is being offered with two petrol and one diesel option. When you compare apples to apple, the 85bhp diesel Duster competes with the diesel Ecosport. Both the engines are refined, however the Duster’s K9K has a loud clattery engine. The turbo lag is a bit prominent on the Ecosport, while the Duster is more torquey and peppy even at low engine speeds. This makes the Duster easier to potter in city traffic. On the other hand, the Ecosport has a better mid-range punch. This puts both the engines in similar position. Both the engines good enough to cruise on the highway.
The gearshifts on both are slick, while the shorter gear knob of the Ecosport makes it a quick shifting box. The Duster’s heavy clutch makes driving more tiresome. In the powertrain, department there is a tie between the two.
One of the key factors that resulted in the sales of Duster was its driving dynamics. The Duster despite being an SUV drove like any other car. It has fairly limited amount of body roll and even the ride suppleness has been good. The Duster has an edge over other SUV in this price bracket due to its monocoque chassis that doesn’t just make it lighter but also a better handler.
Now, the Ford Ecosport follows the same pattern, however Ford has ensured that it drives like any other product from the Ford line-up. So, the ride suppleness of the Ecosport is excellent, at the same time the vehicle drives like a hatchback. The steering wheel is responsive, while that on the Duster is vague. The clutch too is lighter on the Ecosport and the smaller length makes the Ford easier to manoeuvre.
The Duster and Ecosport are neck-to-neck when it comes to specifications, space and even styling. But the moment one considers pricing, the Ecosport is the clear winner, as it is about Rs 1.5lakhs cheaper than the Duster. This has changed the game in the favour of Ford, and now the company is working on delivering the compact SUV to all those who have booked it.
Another advantage that the Ecosport gets is that Ford has made the child parts available for this SUV, which will drastically reduce the cost of maintenance, making it a better ownership experience for the buyer.