Ford unveiled its crossover the Ford EcoSport on the eve of the 2012 Auto Expo at Pragati Maidan. This global compact sports utility vehicle has the same platform as the global Fiesta and is the second in the eight vehicle lineup that Ford plans to launch in India (the first was the Fiesta). The new crossover is slightly smaller than the CR-V, with a very strong design language. It has nice accents at the front especially the three-striped inside narrow, angular LED headlamps. It starts off nicely at the bonnet and connecting strip between the headlamps but the huge, gaping mouth below is disturbing. It has a forward canted stance with a high shoulder line, chunky fenders and an inverted trapezoidal grille all of which are distinct elements.
It has chunky wing mirrors and the thick A and B pillars might be intrusive. The quarter glass could also pose some visibility issues while driving. It has a small rear windscreen. Again because of the spare tyre mounted on the hatch visibility might be obstructed further. The rear high-mounted stop lamp on the spoiler is an interesting touch.
It will have two engine options – a 1-litre, 3-cylinder turbo, direct injection petrol engine producing 120PS of power and 170Nm of torque. Ford have managed to keep the emissions low at 140gm/km. This EcoBoost engine was first announced at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Is this the future of engine technology? Low emissions, high torque and power from small engines. It will also come with a 1.4-litre diesel engine.
One of the interesting factors is that this compact SUV will be less than four metres in length. This will allow Ford to avail of duty cuts and make it more affordable. The spare wheel mounted on rear hatch and 3-cylinder engine are other indicators of duty benefits. All of this translates into an expected price of around Rs 6 lakh. At that price it will cream the competition, unless Renault comes with a competitive pricing for the Duster which is touted to be its biggest rival.
It looks stunning in orange with the black detailing especially the mirror-finished black roof accent and roof rails. Like the Figo which was launched in the same hall at the Taj Palace two years ago, the Ecosport interiors are also not on display. Perhaps Ford wants to repeat their run of luck that they had with the Figo at the same place. The dashboard couldn’t be seen but has an info display at the centre-top. The chunky centre console flows in the transmission tunnel. The steering wheel looks similar to the Fiesta. In terms of space there seems to be enough in the rear to seat three passengers. The boot looks narrow but is tall so space shouldn’t be an issue. The EcoSport will have front-wheel drive for India. It will have 17-inch alloys. The suspension will be double wishbone at the front and trailing-arm at the rear. It should have disc brakes all around.
The EcoSport is expected to be launched in mid-2012 and could prove to be a game changer in the Indian SUV market with its low pricing. Ford president and MD Michael Boneham also announced a US $72 million investment in 2011 in their Chennai plant to increase production, particularly the diesel vehicles. The total investment will be close to US $2 billion. Ford will also be setting up a new plant in Sanand, Gujarat which will go online by 2014.