Design Review

Remember a few years ago, Sony ran a campaign called 'All eyes on you' for one of its glossy laptops. The advertisement showed a couple of people carrying Vaio laptops being followed by eyeballs everywhere they went. The laptop wasn't anything above average but what about the car we have on test, the Ford EcoSport Automatic?

Ford EcoSport Automatic: Jack of all trades, master of none

We shall start with the design first. No matter how many EcoSports you see on the road, there remains no other product in the market that looks like the EcoSport. The crossover styling with the bright blue colour on it means it has very much the same effect as the Sony advertisement I talked about.

Ford EcoSport Automatic: Jack of all trades, master of none

The gaping mouth look of the radiator grille, the nicely shaped headlamps and use of chrome for the radiator grille and fog lamp inserts make the EcoSport look very nice. The slanted windscreen makes the glasshouse look more curved than usual.

Ford EcoSport Automatic: Jack of all trades, master of none

On the sides, it's the high ground clearance and the good looking alloys that make the EcoSport stand out. Flared wheel arches and the prominent shoulder line gives it a bit of a character. Also, the  proportions make it look more like a pumped up hatchback than a boxy SUV, which actually works in the case of this compact crossover, or whatever Ford calls it.

Ford EcoSport Automatic: Jack of all trades, master of none

Wraparound rear windscreen might not have a great viewing area but it manages to keep the sporting and young look of the EcoSport alive. The rear door houses the tail lamps, a couple of badges and the spare wheel. Black bumpers do break the monotony and come to think of it, it won't have looked as good with body coloured bumpers.

Ford EcoSport Automatic: Jack of all trades, master of none

High stance, roof rails and the two tone scheme on the outside adds to the pseudo SUV look while not screwing up with the well-defined overall shape. The gaping radiator grill seems to look odd from certain angles and surprisingly the lower part of the bumper has no mesh, which looks a bit incomplete.When Ford released the concept, I had a very strong feeling that it would turn into a very polarizing product but thankfully, the general consensus is that it's a very nice looking vehicle. Good job, Ford!

User Experience Review

Ford EcoSport Automatic: Jack of all trades, master of none

Very much like the exteriors, the interiors too have something that sets this vehicle apart. The dashboard is borrowed from the Fiesta and as expected, the EcoSport shares most of the components with the sedan. But that's not a bad thing, considering the layout is not just unique but also, ergonomically sound.

Ford EcoSport Automatic: Jack of all trades, master of none

What's bad and equally disappointing is the fit and finish. Even though it feels nice to be inside the cabin, it doesn't feel like a car that costs close to Rs 9 lakhs. From the driver's seat, everything (almost) is well within reach and since you sit high, it becomes easy to drive through traffic. The A-pillar is thick and in conjunction with the quarter glass panel creates a blind spot, big enough to gulp in one whole bike. With adjustable steering (for both tilt and reach) and height adjustable seat, it gives you a good number of options to suit your height. For someone with an average height, the front seats won't be a problem.

Ford EcoSport Automatic: Jack of all trades, master of none

But the rear seats cab be! It's not exactly spacious in here. It's good enough for four average sized people, try to squeeze in more and it will become uncomfortable. Although the seats as such are just about okay in terms of comfort, sitting at the rear isn't going to be the best experience. The EcoSport suffers from a good amount of body roll, which not just takes away the driver's confidence but also robs the rear passengers of a comfortable (read flat) ride. A few of my team members started complaining about nausea, which I first thought was because of my mediocre driving style but later found that it was the vehicle's dynamics that made it even worse.
While the room for passengers is nothing better than just acceptable, a few bottle holders, the glovebox and boot space (both of which are average sized) are good enough to store your luggage. Just don't have too high expectations though.

Ford EcoSport Automatic: Jack of all trades, master of none

Well, talking about high expectations, you are going to find those words in the Performance Review too.

Performance Review

Ford EcoSport Automatic: Jack of all trades, master of none

Talk to an enthusiast who hasn't yet driven a proper quick automatic gearbox powered vehicle and there's a good chance that he despises automatic 'boxes. They are slow, confused and not much fun. I would have loved to say the same about the EcoSport's engine+gearbox combination but something stops me.

Ford EcoSport Automatic: Jack of all trades, master of none

Before I got behind the wheel of this sub 4-meter vehicle, my expectations were quite high. The engine (as well as the gearbox) come from the current generation Ford Fiesta. The 1.5-litre petrol engine makes around 110PS of power and a lowly 140Nm of torque. The gearbox, called Powershift in Ford's marketing language, is a 6-speed dual clutch automatic unit. Mated to a 1.5-litre engine, it should be a very interesting thing to drive! Or so I thought but it turned out otherwise. You see, it's not the kind of automobile you would want to rev unnecessarily. Why? Because no matter how hard you try, at the end of the day it's an SUV (although pseudo, but still), so if you rev too high and fail to transform the revs into me
aningful power that can propel you forward, be ready to picture yourself as a jackass (yes, in a very similar way Tom used to look when fooled by Jerry).

Ford EcoSport Automatic: Jack of all trades, master of none

The gearbox has two modes to go forward, 'D' and 'S'. My understanding of the automotive world suggests that 'D' is Drive and 'S' is Sports. That's the theory part, in real world, 'D' in this case is “Drive through traffic, smooth and steady” while 'S' is “Redline in every gear”. To put all of it in simpler words, in the Drive or D mode, what happens is, the EcoSport upshifts quite early, which is good if you are moving at a moderate pace. But in case you want sudden power, you would obviously push the accelerator pedal a bit further into the floor and expect some good amount of power. Instead of delivering instantaneous power, it takes some time to downshift and the engine's revs continue to rise until a point that you start getting some power and it all ends there, both the power and human ability to hear an engine cry. Put it in the 'S' mode and it becomes more eager to go quick but unless you give it full beans, it's not going to be a pleasurable experience either. Why? Because it redlines in every gear and that's annoying, especially when you are on part throttle. You stagnate there, knowing that an upshift will let you a bit quicker hellip;

Ford EcoSport Automatic: Jack of all trades, master of none

The two buttons placed on the side of the gearstick can be used to shift manually in 'S' mode and trust me, that's the only saving grace. The position of the buttons could have been better but once you acquaint yourself with them, it doesn't take long before you reach the right button in desperation to shift gears manually. On the whole, the 1.5-litre engine feels a bit underpowered, even at the top-end of the rev range. The gearbox, on the other hand, is quick in manual mode but the combination fails to create any magic.

Ford EcoSport Automatic: Jack of all trades, master of none

We reviewed the EcoSport Diesel a couple of months ago and it has to be said that the diesel variant is miles ahead. Be it the engine or the way it handles, the automatic comes nowhere close to the diesel powered version. Talking about handling, the EcoSport Automatic fails to shine here too. The ride is bouncy, it has a good amount of body roll and although it's not as bad as in the Quanto, you don't get much confidence from its handling characteristics either. The steering is light and much like the gearbox, it's great for moving through traffic and congested areas. On the open road, the lack of weight in the steering doesn't make the EcoSport any more desirable and the body roll doesn't help the case too.

Ford EcoSport Automatic: Jack of all trades, master of none

Eight airbags, ABS, EBD and the brochure also read Traction Control among the safety features the EcoSport Auto offers. We didn't go as far as breaking the traction, so we are assuming the system did its job well. Overall it's a safe vehicle to drive as long as you know that body roll and the powertrain in this vehicle aren't the best things you would like to have in your getaway car.

Ford EcoSport Automatic: Jack of all trades, master of none

That's the EcoSport Automatic for you! It looks great in the Blue shade we got on the test car and feels nice inside too but the petrol engine with the automatic gearbox don't do justice to the positives. If you want to use it on a daily basis and don't want to be in total control of how the power is delivered, it won't be a bad choice to go for the EcoSport. It returned an average fuel economy of 8kmpl, which is acceptable considering we ran the car in Sport mode for a long time. At Rs 8.8 lakh, ex-showroom, Mumbai, it's not very expensive to buy and to a very large extent, it justifies the price too.

Ford EcoSport Automatic: Jack of all trades, master of none

But would we recommend it? I can't be confident enough to give you a Yes. This one's good for pootling and a bit of showboating (reference to the 'All eyes on you' advert) but if you love the EcoSport, get the diesel instead, that's all I can say.