The war over economy and design - The New Indian Express

The war over economy and design

Published: 28th July 2013 12:00 AM

Last Updated: 26th July 2013 01:50 PM

India is a prominent market not only for SUVs but also for compact SUVs and of late the market is getting really hot with new launches. Renault Duster was the first in the segment to be a runaway success; now Ford has launched the EcoSport after showcasing it about one-and-a-half years ago.

Ammar Alvi takes a closer look at the two road runners and has more.

Ford India last month finally took the veil off its much-awaited compact SUV, EcoSport, which it believes will change the course of growth for the company in India. First showcased at the 2012 Delhi Auto Expo, Ford has taken all the time it needed to localise the product and ensure it does not leave any stone unturned. It knows that the compact SUV segment is now the fastest growing segment in India and with EcoSport, the company can spring back to good fortunes. We take a closer look at EcoSport and its arch rival Duster which also has been a runaway success for Renault.

When it comes to design, the Duster comes across as a muscular SUV, with its flared haunches and wide stance;  there is a lot of chrome on the grille giving it an upmarket feel with rectangular headlamps that complement the overall design. To top it all, the roof-rails and the haunches at the rear and the bulges near the tail lamps bring in the SUV character.

EcoSport on the other hand looks like a big brother of hatchback. There is a lot of design that the EcoSport has borrowed from its sibling Fiesta, including the front which gives it a uber-cool look. The trapezoidal grille and the sleek headlamps add more character to this compact SUV. Then the stylish looking door handles and the rear with the spare wheel mounted on the tailgate makes the EcoSport a very good-looking SUV.

In the interior fight, Duster has an upper hand. Its interiors are much more spacious, but the quality of plastics is a letdown. Of course, there are a lot of bells and whistles like steering column-mounted audio controls, Bluetooth, touchscreen navigation and several other features. However, there are areas of concern—the mirror adjustment is below the hand brake, and the jock dial on the steering column isn’t visible. But the seating is very good. The boot of the Duster is large enough to take up large luggage without compromising with interior space.

The EcoSport has new and refreshing set of interiors. The centre console feels like a cockpit separating driver and co-driver’s side. The space in both the rows is decent, the boot isn’t that massive, but it is good enough to take luggage for two to three people. The interiors of the EcoSport come loaded with Bluetooth, Sync, steering-mounted audio controls.

As far as engines go, the Duster comes with one petrol engine and two variants in the diesel, while the EcoSport is being offered with two petrol and one diesel option. In diesel front, the 85bhp diesel Duster comes very close to the diesel EcoSport. Both the engines are refined; however the turbo lag is a bit prominent on the EcoSport, while the Duster is more torquey and peppy even at low engine speeds. The Duster despite being an SUV drove like any other car. It has fairly limited amount of body roll and even the ride suppleness has been good. Meanwhile, the ride of the EcoSport is excellent, at the same time the vehicle drives like a hatchback. The steering wheel is responsive. Another advantage that the EcoSport gets is that Ford has made the child parts available for this SUV, which will drastically reduce the cost of maintenance, making it a better ownership experience for the buyer.

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