The year was 2012, and the crowds were rampant in the nation's capital as Auto Expo fever rocked the country. At the Ford booth stood the EcoSport, an SUV that would start a revolution on India's roads.
Ford launched the EcoSport in India a year later in 2013, and soon every other manufacturer joined in on the compact SUV fun. The response to the EcoSport and its rivals has made the compact SUV segment the biggest battleground in India's car market.
Revealed late last year at the 2016 LA Auto Show, the facelifted Ford EcoSport is finally here in India. Has the trendsetter changed enough to reclaim its throne from the Maruti Vitara Brezza and the other players in the compact SUV game? We got behind the wheel of the 2017 Ford EcoSport facelift to find out.
2017 Ford EcoSport Facelift Design, Features & Safety
Ford has refreshed the design of the new EcoSport to give it a more SUV look and feel. The most significant change in the new Ford EcoSport's design is up front, with a new grille dominating the face of the SUV.
The chromed up grille replaces the previous split unit and looks more robust than ever. Flanking the grille are twin barrel headlamps with integrated LED daytime running lights. The turn signals are now clustered together with the new fog lamps and sit under the headlights. The grey skid plate is now fully integrated into the front bumper as well.
The sides of the new EcoSport remain mostly unchanged, though the wheel arches host larger 17-inch alloy wheels in the top Titanium+ variant. The alloys feature a unique design and are shod with 205/50 R17 tyres. Also new are revised roof rails.
The rear design features a reworked bumper. Ford has retained the spare wheel at the rear especially for India, but the button to open the tailgate is now hidden away from view.
The rear door opens up to reveal the 352-litre boot which becomes a cavernous 1,178 litres with the rear seats folded down. The boot features a false bottom which is useful to keep valuables out of sight. The height of the tray covering the hidden space can be adjusted which allows for a flat floor when the seats are folded down.
Interior & Features
The interior of the new 2017 Ford EcoSport has been given a makeover though the all-black colour scheme has been retained. The biggest change in the cabin comes in the form of the new freestanding infotainment display that is placed dead centre on the dash.
The black leather seats on the Ford EcoSport feature white contrast stitching. The front seats are wider as well and offer excellent thigh and back support. The height adjustable driver's seat allows for an ideal driving position, though the view up front gets obscured by the thick A-pillars.
The rear seats can no longer recline but now fold down (60:40 split). The seats offer ample support and are wider, however, legroom remains unchanged and can be an issue for taller customers.
Behind the tilt/rake adjustable steering wheel sits the new instrument cluster. The previous pod-like setup makes way for a more stripped down instrument binnacle. The multi-function display and the illuminated needles though provide a welcome relief from the flat-black background.
The large 8-inch touchscreen infotainment features the third generation of Ford's Sync setup. The interface is clutter-free and quite easy to use thanks to the large blocky interface which has large touch points. The Sync interface responds well to voice commands and can be used to make calls or change little things like the blower speed.
The system supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay with the latter getting Siri but missing out on navigation. The infotainment system connects to a 7-speaker audio system which is pleasing to the ear and can get quite loud.
The 8-inch screen also acts the display for the rearview camera's output and its sharp resolution means that you do not miss even the smallest of obstacles in your path while reversing.
The new Ford EcoSport facelift gets climate control (which borrows switchgear from the Figo) and a reversing camera for the top-spec model (lower-spec variants get sensors).
Other features include a cooled glove box, keyless entry, engine start/stop button and ambient lighting. Numerous storage options are on offer including a deep cubbyhole under the front armrest and deep door pockets.
The new EcoSport comes packed with safety features including six airbags for the top-spec variant, ABS with EBD, and hill start assist. Other safety features include a tyre pressure monitoring system, ISOFIX child seat mounts, and cruise control with speed limiter.
2017 Ford EcoSport Engine, Performance & Mileage
The most significant change in the facelifted 2017 Ford EcoSport is present under the bulging bonnet. A brand new three-cylinder, 1.5-litre naturally aspirated engine replaces the previous four-pot. The EcoSport's new 1.5-litre engine codenamed the 'Dragon' by Ford produces 121bhp at 6,500rpm and 150Nm of torque at 4,500rpm.
The new Dragon engine is paired with either a five-speed manual and a new six-speed automatic (which we drove). The new six-speed automatic gearbox is a torque converter unit, and it replaces the previous dual-clutch unit. The new petrol automatic Ford EcoSport returns a claimed mileage of 14.8kpl.
The diesel engine on the facelifted Ford EcoSport remains unchanged. The turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine cranks out 97bhp at 3,750rpm and 200Nm of torque between 1,750-3,250rpm. The engine is only available with a 5-speed manual gearbox.
The new 1.5-litre dragon engine on the new EcoSport only shows its three-cylinder nature when it starts up, but once on the go, NVH levels are kept to a minimum. The engine responds smoothly to throttle inputs in a linear manner and redlines at 6,750rpm. However, it does feel a bit stretched out after 5,000rpm.
The new torque converter gearbox does its job reasonably well, and while downshifts are snappy, upshifts are weirdly laggy especially while using the paddle shifters. Switching the gearbox to sports mode didn't help matters either, though the engine did respond faster and its eagre burble provided a riotous soundtrack.
The steering responds well to inputs but isn't as sharp as before, and there is a bit of play at the centre position which does feel rather odd, especially in a Ford. The suspension setup is now more pliant as well, and the improvement in ride quality is noticeable whenever you go over any undulations or rough patches of road.
The new Ford EcoSport handles turns and corners well though it does roll a bit if you hurl it into a switchback too fast, which is quite normalfor SUV's in the segment. However, this is something people driving the new 2017 EcoSport in and around the city (the primary habitat of compact SUVs) will hardly ever notice.
|Tested||Ford EcoSport Titanium+ AT|
|Engine||1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol|
|Power||121bhp @ 6,500rpm|
|Torque||150Nm @ 4,500rpm|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||52 litres|
The new 2017 Ford EcoSport facelift brings with it a host of changes including a more frugal but new draconic engine, an aggressive face and features galore which are sure to attract the eye of Indian buyers.
With prices expected to rise by around Rs. 30,000, the new additions and improvements mean that India's first compact SUV - the Ford EcoSport - is making a comeback worthy of scaring its rivals. Overall, the new 2017 Ford EcoSport's all round package is something customers should gravitate to in droves.
Dennis James Thinks!
The new Ford EcoSport facelift has gotten aggressive with its looks and has added a host of features including a silky smooth infotainment system and safety features galore.
The 'Dragon', a little engine that loves to roar, gives the new Ford EcoSport a lot of character, but is let down by the automatic gearbox. While most customers will be pleased with its more fuel efficient nature, I do suspect those wanting to have a bit of fun will prefer the cogs of the manual.
The new 2017 Ford EcoSport is here and it's looking to pick a fight with its rivals. With all of its improvements and new draconic heart, the new EcoSport may just be the proper formula to put Ford's Blue Oval back on the compact SUV throne.