Our Ford EcoSport 1.0 EcoBoost longtermer has finally arrived. I say finally because we were to get this petrol version late last year, but somehow got sent a diesel. While I wasn’t expecting much from the 89bhp engine, the diesel proved to be surprisingly competent in the city. It had plenty of torque, almost no lag and responded well to the throttle. In fact, after a week or so of driving that car, I seriously began to question the need for the EcoBoost petrol version. Had we asked Ford for the wrong car? I was puzzled.
That bit of suspicion, however, quickly vapourised once I got behind the wheel of our EcoBoost. And all it took was an empty stretch of elevated road right outside our office in Parel. Once past the one or two cars ahead of me, I put my foot down and let the snarling, free-revving petrol deliver that generous shove in the back, which makes driving it such a joy. The diesel suddenly felt very ordinary. We sometimes tend to forget how appealing a good petrol engine in a healthy state of tune really is.
A few weeks down the road, it’s still the EcoBoost engine that’s proving to be the most appealing bit. Yes, there is a bit of turbo lag, especially in traffic. Drive it in a lazy manner and this turbocharged 1.0-litre engine will flounder and go off boost if you allow it to languish below 1500rpm. And you also need a well-timed downshift if you want to scramble past a clump of traffic. But otherwise, this little engine is an absolute gem. I just love the way the turbo ‘rushes’ in with a burst of power and I love the way it pulls cleanly to the redline as well. The other, frankly baffling, bit is just how smooth it feels. Passengers have no clue that there are only three cylinders banging away under the hood; in fact, many flat-out refuse to believe me. The 1.0-litre three-cylinder, direct-injection turbo EcoBoost really does deserve the title of International Engine of the Year.
But it’s not the engine alone that makes the EcoSport so good as a daily driver. This car is both practical and thrilling to use on an everyday basis and therein lies its real appeal. Ford seems to have found a nice balance. For starters, it’s just the right size. There’s plenty of space on the inside, both at the front and in the rear. Some rear passengers have complained about the only average visibility, but as far as space and comfort are concerned, there’ve been no complaints yet.
The compact dimensions of the EcoSport, on the flipside, are a boon in the city. It really can squeeze into the tightest of parking slots, as I’ve discovered thrice this week, and it isn’t wide enough to hinder progress in traffic either. Visibility from the driver’s seat is a bit of an issue initially, with the A pillar stretching as far forward as it does, but you soon get over this and start driving the car without being bothered by it too much.
Then there’s the value-for-money thing that Ford has nailed. You get a lot of car for your money, and it’s something you’re aware of everyday. The EcoSport looks big, has plenty of presence on the road and is really well-equipped too. Our Titanium (O) comes packed with genuinely useful features like keyless entry and go, Ford Sync (that includes Bluetooth for phone calls, music and Emergency Assist), six airbags and a 60:40 split rear seat. The boot is small and impractical (it is tall rather than wide), but as long as you keep luggage standing up, there’s room for a couple of big bags here.
The EcoSport even rides and handles well. It feels comfortable over all but the largest of craters in the city and the suspension works silently, delivering a big-car feel. Despite this, and the fact that it holds its weight high off the ground, it even handles with plenty of verve. The front is ever willing to dart into corners and though the rear rolls a bit, it manages to hang on gamely. Even efficiency is very impressive for a 123bhp, 1259kg (kerb weight) compact SUV. It’s been giving us 11.8kpl in the city, which is pretty wallet-friendly.
So it’s clear, we’re more than impressed with our recently acquired long-term EcoSport; it is our Car of the Year after all. Question is, will it continue to impress as the kilometres roll by? Or will a bit of familiarity and ever-rising standards in our industry make it fade? Stay tuned.
Ford 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium (O)
Price Rs 11.09 lakh (on-road, Mumbai)
Test economy 14.4kpl (overall)
Maintenance costs None