Introduction: Launched in 2012, the Ford EcoSport has been a runaway success in India. It continues to redefine the premium sub 4m SUV category in India and time and again, has set new benchmarks. The Thunder edition is the newest addition to the EcoSport line-up and we got a chance to sample it in the beautiful and stunning landscapes of the North East.
The Thunder edition is more than just a sticker work. It is based on the Titanium trim which means the feature list is impressive. This includes climate control, powered outside mirrors, true keyless entry with start-stop feature, comprehensive driver info display, ABS, dual airbags and the works. But as you are paying about Rs 90,000 over the Titanium version, Ford is further throwing in a full safety kit of EBA (Emergency brake assist), ESC (Electronic stability control), TCS (Traction control system) and HLA (Hill launch assist). Further, customers also get an electric sunroof that really ups the value quotient. But there’s more and this is where we will start by discussing the exteriors first.
Exteriors: The EcoSport looks like the only ‘true’ SUV in the league of other rivals and this is down to its butch looks and the boot mounted spare wheel. The Thunder edition further improves the aesthetics and how. For example, the 17-inch alloy wheels that wear a black theme - these do look great, especially on the move. We had a white media car with black theme for various parts. This included black masking on the hood that not only looks great but also prevents reflection from the afternoon sun on to the windshield. And then there is the black masking inside the headlamp, black panels around the fog lamps and a black grille. The lower part of the bumper too is different.
On the side, you notice the blacked-out mirrors and same treatment for the roof. There is new sticker work on the sides and the rear wears the Thunder sticker. Finishing up the changes on the outside is the black cover for the spare wheel. On our drive from Guwahati to the Indo-China border at Bum la pass, the car received a good share of glances, stares and even thumbs up from other motorists and tourists.
Interiors: Step inside and you notice a lot of alterations too. The talking point here is the black and cognac colour theme which is extended to the seats and the door pads. Even the steering gets a contrast stitching. Perfect! Other changes include a sunroof, leatherette seats, front door scuff plates and rear arm-rest with cup holders. The EcoSport has always scored top marks for interior build and quality and this one is no different. Our only complaint with the EcoSport is the tight 2nd row.
Engine: The Thunder edition is sold with two engine options. This includes the 1.5-litre petrol motor that is good for 123 PS of power and 150 Nm of torque. This unit comes mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox and comes with a rated economy of 17kmpl. The second engine option is the one we drove on the drive and comes with a tried and tested 1.5-litre diesel mill that generates 100 PS of power and 205 Nm of torque. Numbers aside, the beauty of the engine is in the way it puts all that power and torque on the road. Turbo lag is well under control and power delivery is very seamless. The engine is mated to a 5-speed manual ‘box and we love the shift quality.
Handling: Likewise, the NVH or the noise-vibration-harshness levels are superb and class leading by a good standard. In fact, it's hard to tell if there is a diesel engine under the hood if you are seated at the back! On our 1300km drive spread across 5 days, we fell in love with the diesel mill of the EcoSport once again. Before you ask, we got an overall economy of just over 16kmpl which is terrific considering the elevation changes, lack of roads near the passes and altitudes as high as 15000 feet.
Back to the driving pleasure, it won’t be wrong to say that the EcoSport Thunder continues to offer a brilliant mix of comfort and handling. Do note that the Thunder edition is the only EcoSport variant now that offers 17-inch wheels and these do add their part as far as handling is concerned. Potholes though clearly demand you to slow down a lot!
Verdict: Priced at Rs 10.18 lakh for the petrol version and Rs 10.68 diesel variant, the Thunder edition offers everything that a customer requires from his SUV at this price point. The essentials have been retained while making sure it undercuts quite a few other cars in the segment and that is a good move. Lack of space at the back, a cruise control and connectivity options for the phone aside, we have every reason to recommend this car.