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ENTER THE DRAGON: FORD ECOSPORT FACELIFT

The Ford EcoSport was the pioneer of the compact SUV segment in Nepal way back in 2013. With a product that was bang for your buck and was able to turn heads in a single package, Ford had a golden goose in their possession. This vehicle singlehandedly kick started the craze for compact SUVs and made other manufacturers sit up and take notice. Regarded as the standard for this segment every other compact SUV was compared against the EcoSport and it seemed other manufacturers were overtaking Ford in this segment. Now to make sure it’s golden goose stays alive the company has introduced a much needed comprehensive facelift which it hopes to persuade the public it still is the king of the hill.

I say comprehensive because this is not just a simple design change. Along with the change to the front fascia the big headline is the updated and more modernized cabin and the new 1.5 liter, 3 Cyl Ti-VCT Dragon engine. Are these changes enough for Ford to regain the top spot or will the EcoSport will just be an echo of the past.

Exterior

When you first see the new EcoSport, there’s no doubt that it is the front fascia section that grabs your attention – simply because of the aggressive new tone. The elimination of the earlier slim grille below the hood made way for the original hexagonal grille to be pushed further upwards which is rather reminiscent of the Ford Mustang.

This, combined with the reshaped bonnet, sharper projector headlamps with LED DRLs, larger fog lamps and the elegant alloy wheel design instantly gives it more character. It is the first that a car in this segment gets 17-inchers and they really look good on the EcoSport. The silhouette and the rear section is the same to that of the past, and Ford would have done well to tweak the design here too. The EcoSport has always been a looker and now with the updated design tweaks in line with its international counterparts further elevates the style factor of the SUV.

Interior

The key highlight of the interior is the 8 inch touchscreen infotainment system. It gets Ford’s very own Sync 3 tech which is a smooth and quick unit to begin with. Plus, there’s Emergency Assist too. The instrument cluster is also all-new although a little bland. It gets twin dials for speedometer and tachometer each and one monochrome square display in the center that acts as a multi-information display (MID).

The MID can be operated by buttons placed on the new steering wheel, which is much easier to use than the stalk-mounted controls in the now past generation vehicle. Overall the quality of the dash has increased tremendously.

The EcoSport comes with quite large boot space which can hold up to three medium size luggage with all the seats in place. The rear seats have been raised to overcome the problem of lesser space in the back. The raising of the rear seats makes more space for the legs and also brings the passengers to the level of the windows adding to an airy feeling in the cabin. Rear reclining seats is still present here, but the mechanism to operate it has changed. There are two buttons placed on the shoulder that can be used to recline the seat for convenience.

The front seats are now wider and the cushioning is softer than the earlier EcoSport. What’s great is that the cushioning on the rear seats are also as soft as the ones in the front which provides great comfort for all. However, seating three adults in the rear will prove to be a tight fight albeit doable.

Overall, the interior has been given an impressive upgrade. Not only have the surroundings become more comfortable but also the tech has gotten smarter. Storage spaces too have been well-designed and the only thing that does fall behind the competition is rear space, which will be bothersome only to tall occupants.

Performance

One of the strong points of the EcoSport has been its performance, both in terms of powertrain as well as handling. The new model keeps that spirit going, fortunately. The highlight here is the all-new 1.5 litre three-cylinder Dragon petrol engine that develops about 120 bhp and 150 Nm of torque. Being naturally aspirated the engine is quick to respond to throttle inputs. Out on the highway, the engine performs in an impressive manner with a generous amount of torque that kicks in from as low as 1500 rpm. Also driving in stop-go traffic is much easier now due to the lag free engine.

Ford has tweaked the suspension to improve the ride quality. This new suspension does a better job of handling potholes and the passengers will enjoy the comfortable ride on the rough surfaces. The EcoSport comes with a high ground clearance of 200mm, which enables it to take on the rough patches without much pain. The steering setup is also slightly different and isn’t as sharp as before. They have toned down the sharpness of the steering but it doesn’t hamper the driving experience. On the whole, the EcoSport continues with Ford’s tradition of making cars that handle well.

Verdict

The EcoSport is back with a bang and now with new updates and better list of equipment, it can go toe-to-toe with its competitors. Its facelift is a much needed shot in the arm for the EcoSport and Ford is clearly aiming at winning back its crown in the compact SUV segment. The refreshed version takes care of all the styling woes and feels a lot more competent and modern. The new 1.5-litre petrol engine feels nice, and the suspension setup offers a better balance now, making the EcoSport even more likeable as an urban SUV.

 

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