The commute from my home in Chembur to the Autocar office in Parel sees me tackle ridiculously tall, poorly constructed speed breakers as well as potholes deep enough to be classified as craters. As a result, when driving a hatchback or sedan, I need to slow down to walking speed and manoeuvre the car deftly to avoid scraping the underbelly.
Which, understandably, makes the EcoSport the longtermer that I, and almost everyone else on the team, race towards at the end of the day. I do get lucky sometimes.
While the generous 200mm ground clearance helps me tackle those rowdy speed breakers even with a full complement of passengers and luggage, it’s the EcoSport’s compact dimensions that make me a fan. It’s easy to punt around town, squeeze through traffic and — the best bit — unlike a full-size SUV, it fits into tight parking spaces.
However, the visibility from the driver’s seat isn’t particularly great despite the elevated driving position. It took me a few days to get used to the thick A- and D-pillars. But the front seats are very comfortable and offer good support, while the rake and reach adjustable steering wheel makes it easy to find a good driving position.
The other thing that appeals is the EcoSport’s willingness to attack corners. I love the fact that it is agile and genuinely fun to drive despite being a compact SUV. The light steering is a boon in the city and at highway speeds, you have a good idea of what the front wheels are up to. This instils a good amount of confidence and it can be driven around bends at car-like speeds.
Also, my friends and family continue to be impressed by the long list of kit, like the audio system which drowns out noise and elevates the mood. It is clearly loud and has a lot of punch. They appreciate the fact that the rear seat back can be reclined, which allows them to change their position and stay comfortable on long drives. But at times, they get talking about the quality of the cabin plastics, which they suggest should have been better considering the price tag.
The 1.0-litre, direct-injection, turbocharged petrol motor continues to thrill each time I get the urge to put the ‘pedal-to-the-metal’. When driven sedately in the city, it returns around 11.8kpl and that, coupled with a fuel tank capacity of 52 litres, gives the EcoSport a range of around 600 kilometers — which is very impressive. Another good bit is that the motor continues to idle smoothly without any clatter or vibrations which is inherent in any three-cylinder mill.
At low speeds, the engine has a bit of lag which requires me to downshift quite a bit, especially while driving in traffic. But as the revs climb past 2000rpm, the turbo kicks in strongly and delivers a prolonged burst of power and the EcoSport gains pace rapidly, which is quite entertaining.
Living with the EcoSport has made it clear that it is indeed a well-rounded package and hence continues to remain a popular buy.