Ford has subtly updated the EcoSport line-up with the introduction of a new SE variant. Based on the Titanium trim, the SE sits below the range-topping S and offers the customers a choice of doing away with the tailgate-mounted spare wheel. We drove it a few weeks back and you can read our first drive review over here. This time around we take a deeper look at the EcoSport SE and tell you five things we still like about it and two things that could have been better.
1. Handsome looks
Even after being around for such a long time, the EcoSport still is the most handsome looking brute in the sub-four metre SUV segment. Its bold grille, large aggressive headlamps, well-designed fog lamp housing, wraparound C-pillar, muscular creases, and haunches- all lend it a very American muscle-esque persona.
Changes seen on the SE trims are the reworked rear bumper with faux skid plate while the license plate moves up on to the bumper. With no spare wheel hanging on the rear door, it does look quite peculiar. Especially when through all these years we are accustomed to seeing the EcoSport with a rear-mounted wheel. It does take time to get used to the new look of the SE, but that's how the EcoSport has been on offer in the international markets for a long time now.
2. Driving dynamics
Fords have been known for their road dynamics and the EcoSport is no different. Its well-balanced steering wheel coupled with well-judged ride quality make this Blue Oval one of the best driver's vehicles in its segment. Take it over any road surface (or no road for that matter) and the ride remains flat and consistent without troubling the passengers. Combine this with the direct and well-weighted steering and the EcoSport emerges as an ideal choice for those who like spending more time behind the wheel.
Despite the underlying stiffness to the ride, it remains supple and comfortable – even when going over sharp-edged potholes or road joints. And at high speeds, there's commendable straight-line stability, something that the newfound lightweight competition can only dream of. Throw it around corners and the EcoSport manages to come out on the other side with a smile on your face, owing to its controlled body movement.
3. Spacious and well-built cabin
On the inside, the all-black cabin has a solid feel to it. It needs to be mentioned that the EcoSport's cabin has a level of solidity that cannot be found in many newer crossovers. The quality of plastic could have been better but it in no way reflects that this cabin is already half a decade old. With the SE trim, there's a new fabric upholstery that's unlike anything seen in the Ford line-up, thanks to the tinge of ivory over grey combination. Although it's a unique furnishing work, it will surely have polarising opinions.
Apart from that, the floating touchscreen has a smooth touch response and has a clean user interface that also throws out relevant information. Ergonomically, the EcoSport cabin is better than its rivals, with every knob, switch, and button properly placed and at an arm's reach. Even the space upfront is ample with a good amount of head and shoulder room. What's more, the seats offer the right amount of support and are good enough to spend long hours in.Move to the back seat and you get a decent amount of head and knee room with space for three passengers to sit abreast with relative ease.
Lastly, the boot of the EcoSport opens up like a conventional door but we expected that, with the spare wheel gone, it would get a hatch opening as seen in any other sub-four metre SUV. That said, there's a massive space of 352litres with the doors opening wide and far and the loading lip being quite low and wide.
4. Features and Safety
The Ford EcoSport is one of the first vehicles to benefit from the government's new rule of doing away with a spare wheel. So instead of the spare wheel, it's been provided with a puncture repair kit. In this kit, you get a 12V air pump and a liquid solution that works temporarily until you can get the puncture repaired properly without being stranded.
This being based on the top-spec variant, the SE comes with all the bells and whistles Ford has on offer, which includes keyless entry and start, sunroof, auto headlamps with HID projectors and DRLs, cruise control, auto AC, auto-dimming mirrors, sunglass holder, auto wipers, ambient lighting, 16-inch silver finished alloy wheels, and an eight-inch touchscreen with Ford's SYNC3 interface. The touchscreen now also comes with Ford Pass connectivity tech along with smartphone integration like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. In terms of the safety front, there's a long list here. You get no less than six airbags, ABS with EBD, traction control, hill start assist, and TPMS.
5. Powertrain choice
Ford is offering the EcoSport SE in both petrol and diesel engine options. You get the new 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine from the Dragon family making 121bhp of power and 149Nm of max torque. Meanwhile, the oil burner is a proven 1.5-litre four-banger putting out a decent 99bhp of power and 215Nm of twisting force. Both engines are paired to a five-speed manual transmission, no automatic here.
The American carmaker claims an ARAI fuel efficiency of 15.9kmpl for the petrol engine while the diesel is claimed to be good for 21.7kmpl. The point to be noted here is that the EcoSport is one of the few options in the segment that offers a diesel engine in this BS6 era. Meanwhile, the naturally-aspirated petrol motor outclasses its competition in terms of power output – even those new turbo petrol engines.
1. Loses character with the spare wheel
Ever since its introduction back in 2012, the EcoSport stood out with its spare wheel mounted at the tailgate. It gave it a distinct character that no other sub-four metre SUV dared to imitate. Now, with the spare wheel gone, the SE simply looks incomplete. But that’s not the reason to deter from it. The main reason is that it is barely Rs 43,000 less than the considerably better-looking S trim. And for that money, the S offers ISOFIX child seat anchors, puddle lamps, leatherette upholstery, and stylish-looking alloy wheels as well. Moreover, there’s no automatic on offer with the SE trim.
2. Needs a major update
There’s no denying the fact that the current-gen EcoSport has been around for a long time. And the last major update for the car which kick-started the sub-four metre segment came in 2017.
So, with the newfound competition getting on the bandwagon, the EcoSport is in desperate need of a major update. In fact, this SE trim with its missing spare wheel doesn’t cut it as an update. We expect revamped cabin, reworked exterior styling, modern features, and a competitive petrol motor in the new-gen EcoSport.
With the SE trim, Ford attempts to provide the customers with a different choice to the EcoSport customers. But it proves to be too little and too late. Where the competition has moved on leagues ahead, the EcoSport SE, which sits lower down its range-topping trim offering not more but less, makes for an inexpedient buy. But on the upside, the EcoSport as a whole remains a solid SUV with its involving driving dynamics, spacious and practical cabin, and a well-aged style that can put some of the newcomers to shame. So, the SE trim makes sense for those who want their EcoSport to look more conventional and don’t mind missing the rear-mounted spare wheel while at it.
Pictures by Kapil Angane and Kaustubh Gandhi