The car is adept through corners with nary a hint of roll and will swallow bad roads in its stride But the big headline is the updated cabin and the new powertrain option on the petrol variant that now gets the 1.5 litre, 3 Cyl Ti-VCT Dragon engine. This replaces both the previous 1.5 and 1.0 ecoboost petrol options. It is to be available with a 6-Speed automatic or 5-Speed manual. On the diesel side things stay unchanged with the 1.5 TDCi. I have driven all three options and can tell you the great news right up front. The EcoSport’s excellent ride quality, nicely stiff setup and capable handling are intact. The new car sees minor tweaking in suspension but for the most part maintains its former characteristic. The car is adept through corners with nary a hint of roll and will swallow bad roads in its stride.
(The big headline is the new powertrain option on the petrol variant that now gets a 1.5 litre, 3 Cyl Ti-VCT Dragon engine)
The new petrol engine is very obviously tuned to offer good fuel efficiency and so while it is eager and enthusiastic, it’s not electric. This is a bit of a downer given how much fun the 1.0 ecoboost used to be. Ford will still make the 1.0 and even a 2.0 ecoboost but alas that is only for export to the United States. America will also get the AWD (all wheel drive) option that we won’t. But this does mean Ford has the option to play with – a special 2 litre (all bells and whistles) variant with AWD in the future maybe! The 1.5 dragon doesn’t come across as a 3-pot except for when you turn the ignition and it starts with a clatter. In fact the engine and road noise are well contained outside the cabin through some good sound insulation. The engine is reasonably well mated to the auto box but you will find that it takes a while to get going.
On the diesel side things stay unchanged with the 1.5 TDCi
The new automatic is smooth and the gear changes are very quick, except for the shift from 1st to 2nd on the paddle shift strangely enough – which has a weird lag from when you hit the paddle to when the gear actually engages. The petrol automatic will do very well in city traffic though as gears hold and there aren’t frequent downshifts. It’s only when you try and push it hard that it’s going seem wanting. But as you cross 2000 rpm the engine seems to come alive – and so makes for easy cruising at higher speeds. And more so when you switch the transmission to S or sport mode. While it’s not as sporty as is have liked it certainly gets more responsive, though the tinny nature of the 3 cylinder starts to be heard more often than not as gear ratios gets longer. In fact in sport you can push the engine to 7000 rpm and effect quick overtakes and acceleration.
The new automatic is smooth and the gear changes are very quick
But while I may have been a bit underwhelmed by the petrol auto, the manual is a whole lot more exciting. The manual gearbox allows the engine to stretch its legs better and gives you a better overall performance that’s more responsive. And speaking of that kind of fun, it’s also very true of the manual on the diesel. The torquey 1.5 TDCi diesel is heaps of fun as it always was and you will find no change between the new and old car in pure performance terms. While many of you have asked and I have answered – let me once again clarify that there is to be no diesel automatic variant. Yes – another SUV with no diesel auto.
The EcoSport gets a new dashboard design with an all black theme
Of course on the diesel you do get all the new styling and tech that will impress – well, mostly the tech for most of you! What I can tell you is that the seeming focus of the design team was to make the car appear more butch, bigger, and taller. The redesign – primarily in the front – achieves that in spades. Large front grille, exaggeratedly large fog lamps, restyled bumpers with a higher stance, new roof rails, and a more muscular raised hood cover the exterior changes. The rear remains more or less unchanged though the speculation ended with the unboxing on whether or not the Indian model will get the spare wheel on the rear door or not. It does! And the Titanium+ variant gets a new 17″ alloy with a new pattern.
That ‘floating’ screen functions quite well and is well placed
That top spec variant also gets a reverse camera, 6 airbags, while the Titanium just below it gets climate control, a large 8″ touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, keyless entry, start stop button, reverse parking sensors, and much more as standard. A cooled glove box, tilt/telescopic steering, dual airbags and ABS are standard across all variants. That ‘floating’ screen functions quite well and is well placed. At first you may find it to be protruding or a bit high – but as soon as you start driving you realise it allows you to use it without taking your eyes off the road for too long. Its large, chunky and uncluttered interface is also good so you can quickly access functions you may need.
The top spec variant also gets a reverse camera
Of course for the most part you don’t even need to do that as the EcoSport still gets Sync voice command – now in its latest 3rd iteration. Sync works well and also allows for Siri to jump in and works in tandem if you connect an Apple device. Mobile navigation means the EcoSport misses out on inbuilt nav, and while that’s fine with Android Auto, Apple devices of course don’t allow access to Google Maps.
The auto climate control is effective
The auto climate control is effective and I did quite enjoy the new gadgets, and music system. The new seats are better padded, with better side and under-thigh support. Of course this is just a facelift – and so to once again answer a common question I’ve been getting – no there is no change in rear legroom. The boot though now gets a false bottom – which reveals either a deeper cargo space if you remove the tray that covers it – or a concealed area that lets you keep valuables like laptops for instance, out of sight.
The boot though now gets a false bottom, which reveals a deeper cargo space if you remove the tray that covers it
The Indian model will get the spare wheel on the rear door
Ford says 1600 of the close to 2000 parts on the EcoSport are all new and so it would be fair to say that it does go a bit further than being simply a facelift in the true sense. The variants will ape the last car’s for the most part – Ambient, Trend and Titanium. But I can share that there will definitely now be a new variant called Trend+ that will give the mid-spec buyer a little more option on the feature list. And unlike earlier the automatic will also be offered on a mid-variant for the first time – though without the paddle shift or the S (sport) mode.