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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.