Looking back 2013 has been a year filled with launches but perhaps the most important one has to be the Ford EcoSport. The buzz surrounding the launch was huge with excitement reaching at fever pitch. Then Ford finally went ahead and launched it at a sticker price which stunned everyone and ever since that day the lines outside Ford dealerships with people waiting anxiously with cheque books in their hands just grew bigger and bigger.
Till now all the limelight has been on the EcoSport with the EcoBoost engine and also to some extent the diesel. No doubt the EcoBoost engine is an engineering marvel (International Engine of the Year winner) and the diesel is of course very important but having sampled the EcoBoost earlier we were keen to try the EcoSport in its Automatic avatar with the 1.5 petrol engine.
Automatics make sense today with traffic and long commutes being part and parcel of city life thus there could not have been a better time for us to test the EcoSport Automatic. Read on to know what we think.
It looks great, Ford have done a great job on the design right?
Indeed. The EcoSport is no doubt one of the best looking designs in the compact SUV space along with being the most clever. Just under 4 meters Ford has packed in a whole lot of design details into this compact body and there is a whole lot to take in. At the front we simply love the massive hexagonal grille and the sharp headlamps which gives it a lot of presence. Other distinctive details include a strong character line, short bonnet and a tall stance (200 mm ground clearance).
Move to the side and the compactness is evident but the 16 inch wheels looks great and provide the correct stance. Move to the rear and the classic SUV touch of the tail-gate mounted spare wheel rounds of the package very well. This is not a subtle car and in Kinectic Blue it looked simply stunning with massive head turning ability.
Is it as sporty on the inside?
Very much so as evident from the pictures as just like the Fiesta sedan the interior is futuristic and sharply styled. The big centre console and screen sitting on top of it grab your attention first then you take a look at the sporty dials and grab hold of the chunky steering wheel. Quality is decent and there are plenty of storage places around. When it comes to rear seat space it is best for two and there is enough legroom/headroom on offer.
What you will like once you push the button at the rear to open the tail-gate is that at 346 litres (expandable upto 705L) the boot is bigger than some hatches and it is also cleverly made with the inside ofthe tail-gate scooped out for big luggage to fit in easily.
All good but what about the features?
You are in for a treat as it seems Ford has thrown the kitchen sink here. The Automatic variant is available only in Titanium space and save for couple of features like push button start, keyless entry, it gets it all. For starters you get FM/AM Radio/Aux in/USB, CD/MP3 player, SYNC (with Voice control), climate control, Bluetooth, steering controls etc. The EcoSport AT also has two tweeters which are not there in the other variants.
The big talking point here is the SYNC system which has been developed along with Microsoft which is really great to use and takes things to the next level. After pairing your phone via Bluetooth through voice commands you can make and receive phone calls plus it even reads out your text messages, of course streaming music from your phone is also there. Safety wise the EcoSport AT exclusively gets EPC, TCS, EBA, Hill Launch Assist plus driver/passenger/side and curtain airbags along with the Emergency Assistance feature.
What about the automatic gearbox?
Yes, the crux of the matter. The EcoSport AT gets a 6-speed dual clutch gearbox and only comes with the 110 bhp 1.5 petrol engine and on first impression was very smooth and stuck in traffic the gearbox worked well providing the instant burst of acceleration to exploit those gaps in traffic. In 'D' mode it works really well in the city and coupled with compact dimensions and a tall driving position, you will not have anything to complain.
However in the highway it is best to use the 'S' mode which holds onto the gears longer and provides the oomph you need and yes when given the beans it becomes quite vocal too! For best results though you have to shift manually (only in S mode) via buttons on the right side of the gearlever. You all want to know about the efficiency figures and here we got 10 kmpl (D mode) and it went down to 8-9 kmpl when driven hard through 'S' and 'manual' mode. Not bad.
As a package the EcoSport comes across as the perfect family car. It drives well, looks great, is loaded with features and has the best steering this side of Rs 10 lakh which means the EcoSport does cover all the bases. The question is would you choose the automatic version and our answer is a resounding yes. Priced at Rs 8.7 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) the EcoSport in AT avatar is just fantastic value for money as its loaded with features plus the convenience of driving an automatic car is alone worth it.
The EcoSport AT rivals include automatic hatches but they can't hold a candle to the EcoSport when it comes to styling or even equipment levels. So this review confirms what we have been suspecting all along that the EcoSport AT is the hidden gem of the EcoSport range.
Watch our EcoSport Automatic video review