Automatic gearbox equipped cars are an ideal way to take on the dense traffic we encounter here in India. With no clutch and no gearlever, your left hand and left leg get much needed rest. Automatics, however, haven’t really caught on here. This is because you normally face a double penalty with automatics -- they are both more expensive and less fuel efficient. To top it off, there is also a drop in real world performance. So, automatics are normally looked at but generally avoided.
This is where the EcoSport A/T steps in. The big news is that with this car, the first hurdle, that of a high price, is all but taken care of. The automatic transmission equipped EcoSport 1.5-litre petrol is priced at a relatively affordable Rs 8.45 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). Then, because a twin clutch automatic gearbox is used, efficiency and power aren’t too badly affected either. So, on paper, the EcoSport automatic is really quite attractive. But just how good is it?
First, the driving impressions. The EcoSport uses the same six-speed dual-clutch gearbox as the one found on the Ford Fiesta. While driving in the city in ‘D’ mode, the automatic gearbox upshifts early, maintaining a relatively low engine speed in a bid to improve fuel economy. A dab on the throttle gets it moving quite nicely, and when driven like this, it is quite adept at mixing it with other traffic. Ask for a bit more acceleration however and the engine’s lack of oomph in the mid-range comes through. The response is there when you press your foot down on the accelerator but it is not in line with what you expect to get back from the car. What makes matters worse is that the gearbox is sometimes reluctant to downshift and that further accentuates the problem.
You eventually learn to go flat on the throttle in order to get the box to downshift. Now there’s much more power and enthusiasm on hand as the EcoSport sheds its lethargic nature and the Ford gathers momentum smartly. The engine does get a bit noisy when the car is driven in this manner but at least you are not lacking in performance. The correct thing to do if you are in a bit of a hurry is stick the car in Sport mode. Here, it holds on to gears for longer and the EcoSport feels peppier and more responsive to drive. The ‘S’ mode also lets you manually select gears but the medium is a bit unusual. There is a small button that’s all but hidden from view on the side of the gear lever. This allows gears to be clicked up and down. It may take a little getting used to but the system works well. We tested the EcoSport A/T and found it covered the 0-100kph speed range in 13.5 seconds; not lightening quick by any standards.
Otherwise the EcoSport is a great all rounder. It has that pseudo SUV look that we Indians love and on the inside, it offers a decently spacious cabin it rides and handles well and now equipped with the automatic gearbox makes a stronger argument for itself.
The Ford EcoSport A/T is only available with the 1.5-litre petrol engine in the Titanium trim, and costs Rs 8.45 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). This, of course, also makes it great value for money. Sure, the combination of this engine and automatic gearbox may not be the best pairing ever. More performance would be welcome, but it gets the job done combined with the rest of the car makes for a great package. Now, if we only have that 123bhp EcoBoost engine with an automatic gearbox.