The Ford EcoSport is the most talked about vehicle in the market today, and the expectations from it are huge. People have seen the EcoSport, of course, and many have felt it up close too thanks to Ford's aggressive pre-launch promotions. And though, it would be a little too soon to pass a judgement on its on road performance, we can still size it up on paper. And what better vehicles to put it up against than its immediate competition. Enter the Renault Duster and the Mahindra Quanto. Let the paper wars begin...
It does, and more so in the SUV class. But equally important is the styling, the road presence and the butch appeal. And on this count, the Mahindra Quanto sees itself bringing up the rear. It has the height and width, no doubt; it also sits on a handsomely long wheelbase. But in a bid to avail excise benefits meant for small cars, its sub-4 metre length leaves it looking ungainly. The Renault Duster ticks all the right boxes in this regard. It has the butch styling, the presence and the size to lure in even the non-believers. No wonder it has taken the market by storm and has helped Renault register sales figures of over 5,000 units a month consistently.
The Ford EcoSport, like the Quanto measures less than 4-metres in length; if we were to ignore the tailgate mounted spare wheel, that is. With the spare wheel, the EcoSport measures 4241mm. Thankfully though the Ford designers have done a commendable job in making the EcoSport look both palatable and handsome. It also measures 2057mm (with the ORVMs) in width and stands 1696mm tall giving it a proportionate stance. To boot, the narrow headlamps combined with the large lower grille area, and flared out wheelarches help hugely towards competing a butch look. In terms of street creed then, the Ford EcoSport easily beats the Quanto and runs the Duster very close.
Now this is a tricky one. We have measured the Duster and the Quanto from the inside and can therefore clearly tell you that the Duster is the more spacious SUV of the two. It has more headroom at the front which is a little surprising given that the Quanto is the taller of the two SUVs. The Duster is also more spacious at the rear; it has wider shoulder room and more usable kneeroom making it more comfortable for three adults to sit abreast at the rear. The Quanto though has a much bigger boot, but, yes, the jump seats at the back do intrude and rob it of some usable luggage space.
Now for the Ford EcoSport we have no interior measurements. But we do know at 346 litres, it has the least amount of boot space. And having spent sometime inside the car, we can also reveal, this space is thanks to the height of the boot and not its depth. Large suitcases then, will have to be excused from journeys in the EcoSport. As for the room inside the cabin, it too will be the least among the three. To begin with, the EcoSport is the narrowest SUV here, so shoulder room at the back was always going to be at a premium. And when we did try to fit in three average sized grown-ups at the rear, it turned to be quite a squeeze. Clearly then, if it's a spacious five seater SUV you are looking for, the EcoSport simply doesn't make the cut. The Duster is the best bet in this regard.
This is one area where the Ford EcoSport is simply untouchable. Not that the Duster and the Quanto are ill-equipped; these do come with stuff like alloy wheels, rear wash and wipe and a stereo, not to mention front airbags and ABS on the safety front. But the EcoSport offers a lot more. Besides the above mentioned bits, the EcoSport also gets ESP and traction control, it gets a much better driver-interface system called SYNC, it gets a cooled box, keyless entry and start, and even hill start assist. Ford also claims it has the most in-cabin storage spaces for added practicality, but we aren't completely sure about this; the EcoSport's door pockets for instance aren't exactly very useful. Moreover unlike the Quanto, it hardly has any stowage on the central tunnel upfront. Yes, it has a tray under the front seat, but then so does the Mahindra. But all said and done, if we were in the market for a well equipped SUV in this class, the EcoSport would be our default choice.
Given that we only end up buying diesel engined vehicles, not just in the SUV class but in the sedan segment as well in this price bracket, we are sure you want to know about the diesel engines first. All three come with diesel engines and all three displace 1.5-litre in capacity. The Duster makes the most power and torque followed by the Quanto, and the EcoSport is the least powerful diesel here. The Ford EcoSport borrows the engine from the Fiesta along with its five-speed manual gearbox. This drivetrain wasn't impressive in the Fiesta, now its powering a slightly heavier SUV and unless the torque characteristics have improved this engine could feel incompetent. On paper alone we would go with the Duster when it comes to the diesel engines. However we will reserve a real world opinion for when we drive this SUV on our roads.
As for the petrols, the Mahindra Quanto doesn't come with one, which throws it out of the equation. The Duster's petrol meanwhile, the same as on the Scala, is quite an average engine, especially when one compares it against Ford's 1-litre EcoBoost . The EcoSport will also be sold with a conventional petrol too, again borrowed from the Fiesta, but given the output figures of the EcoBoost and its fuel efficiency claims, it would be the engine to buy. Moreover, the Ford EcoSport will be the only SUV in its class to come with an automatic gearbox. And it's no ordinary gearbox this; it's a quick shifting, economical and fun to use dual clutch auto.
Unfortunately no. At least not till we have actually driven the EcoSport and compared it with its competition back-to-back on the road, in the real world. But, we can tell you this- if you are all set to buy an SUV in this class, hold on till our drive report appears on may 7. We have a strong feeling, the Ford EcoSport will spring a surprise... on the pricing front more than anything else.