The EcoSport has been a vital ingredient in Ford’s recipe of resilience in India. Just like most Ford cars, it is fun to drive, comfortable to be in and isn’t too heavy on the pocket. Launched in 2013, it has been one of the best selling cars for Ford and in the sub-4 metre SUV segment. But with the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza coming into the options list for customers, Ford has witnessed a steep decline in the EcoSport’s sales figures.
It is time for the American automaker to fight back. Ford unveiled the facelift of its EcoSport SUV in Los Angeles, California, on November 14, 2016. It is slated to go on sale in Brazil in the early part of 2017, before it comes to India, where it will be manufactured and exported for the American market as well. Ford released a list of features that will be offered on the American version of the EcoSport facelift. No doubt the feature list is mouth-watering but to keep the costs in check, the Indian version of the sub-4 metre SUV is likely to miss some of them. Here’s a list of features that, in all probability, won’t be offered on the EcoSport facelift in India.
Imagine a car that costs less than Rs 10 lakh and is powered by a 2.0-litre engine. Apart from being a powerhouse, a 2000cc engine will simply outgun everything in its segment and a segment above as well. Not even the bigger SUVs, such the Renault Duster, Honda BR-V and Hyundai Creta feature an engine that big. Well, there are three reasons behind it. One - big engines are jolly expensive to build, two - the fuel-economy figures aren’t impressive and three - to avail the excise benefit of a sub-4 metre SUV, the EcoSport can't feature an engine bigger than 1.5-litres. In a country like India, which is extremely price conscious, Ford is expected to stick with engine options which have smaller cubic capacity.
For the US market, Ford will mate the 4-Wheel Drive (4WD) system with the 2.0-litre engine only. The reason behind it is simple - a 4WD system requires more power from the engine to work its magic on the move. When engaged, a 4WD system brings the top speed and the fuel efficiency of a vehicle considerably down. While higher top speed isn’t a priority for the Indian market, good fuel-economy definitely is. Moreover, the smaller engines won’t have enough power to support a 4WD system effectively.
Bang & Olufsen Play Audio System
In the revamped EcoSport, Ford showcased an updated dashboard, with a bigger 8-inch infotainment system that supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Mated to the screen is a 675-watt Bang & Olufsen (B&O) Play music system with 10 speakers. To get the best possible music experience, the entire sound system is installed by Harman acoustic engineers. While it would be a great addition, it is highly unlikely that the Indian version of the updated EcoSport will get it. B&O music systems are beautifully engineered and jaw-droppingly expensive. While India is expected to get the bigger screen and the phone-mirroring compatibility, powered by Google and Apple, the B&O Play will be too expensive to keep the final price competitive.
Sporty Interior Trim
Ford EcoSport’s main target audience in the US is the youth and therefore a sporty dual-tone interior trim works well to attract prospective customers. However, this isn’t the case in India. Here the EcoSport serves several types of customers and a major chunk comes from customers with two-plus-two families. While a dual-tone treatment on the inside is welcome, bright and sporty colours such as the one on the revamped EcoSport are expected to remain in the western hemisphere for the time being.
New Tailgate Design
Ford has got rid of the boot-mounted spare wheel and redone the styling of the tailgate. The spare-wheel now sits underneath the rear of the baby SUV. This new change is for the American market but Ford is expected to keep the boot-mounted spare wheel design at the rear for its Indian customers. The reason is simple - we like it. It gives a more masculine feel of the entire car, although it is the tiniest SUV with a Ford badge on it that money can buy. But who cares, right? As long as it looks butch, we don’t really care how big the really is.
Just like the Ford Figo, which is built in India but specced generously, renamed as Ford Ka and is exported to markets in Europe, the updated EcoSport will be built here and then exported to the US from 2018.