Witnessing the amount of interest that the Renault Duster and the Ford Ecosport have generated in the market, we felt compelled to do a comparison feature on the two SUVs. Having driven both the machines for long enough we could not help but put down our thoughts on the new heroes of the volumes segment. We had to quickly sample the Ecosport 1.5 petrol and diesel variants (we had driven the Ecoboost exhaustively earlier) to be able to put things fairly in perspective. A quick trip to the nearest dealer armed us with some sense on how the other two engines behaved. The good thing was that we had sampled these engines in detail on the Fiesta, and the behavior wasn’t too different.
So here’s a quick comparo of the Renault Duster and the Ford Ecosport. We’ll bring you another, more exhaustive comparo with a photo shoot when we have both the cars available. But in the meantime, this quick comparo covers most areas which matter to help you make an informed choice between the two machines.
Looks can be subjective, but in this case there is more to compare than just the shape. There is size too. Parked side by side, the Duster will most definitely look bigger and more imposing than the compact Ecosport. Taking into account us Indians’ obsession with equating size with value, the only thing that can properly negate the advantages of more real estate for a car is a smaller price for the competition (more on that later). Talking absolutely in terms of size, the Duster has a clear advantage.
Styling is another facet of the coin, and the Duster doesn’t score too badly there too. It’s wide stance, low roofline and pronounced, angular wheel arches make it look beefier than its size allows. The design is simplistic, and as the sales have shown, works well for the Indian market. It’s well sorted and doesn’t have too many lines making the exterior look busy.
The Ecosport on the other hand is quite unorthodox. It’s imposing grille, high bonnet, and chiseled surfaces across its body make it look like a rebel on the loose. That tail-gate mounted spare wheel works towards negating the disadvantage of a smaller size to make this vehicle look like a proper SUV. It’s sportier in essence than the Duster and has racier lines, as opposed to the assertive girth of the Duster.
Coming from manufacturers of international repute, the fit-finish of the exterior on both machines is top-notch. Both look good in their own different ways, and both aren’t too gorgeous either to be loved by one and all. The Ecosport looks the more flamboyant and eye-catching of the two for sure though, but that advantage is somewhat negated by the bigger size and brawnier appeal of the Duster.
Overall, we would technically rate the Ecosport higher in terms of design. However, looking at the two vehicles from a common Indian man’s perspective, the Duster looks bigger and has more presence. In the end, it’s even Stevens from a practical standpoint, the Ecosport has the flair, but the Duster has the size.
Funny as it might sound, the Ecosport has an advantage technically, but the Duster has a minor lead in terms of perception. It’s difficult to place one before another.
Next Page for Features & Price>>>
Features & Price
Now this is one area where the Ecosport has a substantial edge over its French rival. Ford have loaded the Ecosport rather well with features. In fact the top of the line automatic 1.5 Ti-VCT comes with as many as six airbags and traction control system – features which are available only in cars which are Rs 15 lakh or above.
Here’s a comparison of the features offered on the two cars
|Feature||Ecosport 1.6 TDCi Titanium Options||Duster 1.5 dCI RXZ Options|
|Airbags||6 Airbags||2 Airbags|
|Air Conditioner||Automatic Climate Control||Manual|
|Steering Adjustment||Tilt & Telescopic||Tilt|
|Push Button Start||Yes||Yes|
|Driver Height Adjustable Seat||Yes||Yes|
|Lumbar Support||Driver Only||Driver Only|
|Backseat Armrest||No||With Cup Holder|
|Leather-wrapped Steering Wheel||Yes||No|
|Power Windows||Front & Rear||Front & Rear|
|Outside Rear View Mirrors||Both Sides||Both Sides|
|Adjustable ORVM||Electrically Adjustable||Electrically Adjustable|
|Turn Indicators on ORVM||Yes||No|
|Music Player Type||2 Din, with radio, USB, MP3, Blutooth, Aux-in||2 Din, with radio, MP3, Blutooth, Aux-in|
|GPS Navigation System||No||Yes|
Duster Prices (As we write about it)
Renault Duster RxE Petrol Rs. 8.1 lakh
Renault Duster 85 PS RxE Diesel Rs. 8.8 lakh
Renault Duster 85 PS RxL Diesel Rs. 9.8 lakh
Renault Duster RxL Petrol Rs. 10 lakh
Renault Duster 110 PS RxL Diesel Rs. 10.8 lakh
Renault Duster 85 PS RxL Diesel (Opt) Ra 11.1 lakh
Renault Duster 110 PS RxZ Diesel Rs 11.75 lakh
Renault Duster 110 PS RxZ Diesel (Opt) Rs. 12,27,119
Ecosport Prices (As we write about it)
Ford EcoSport Ambiente 1.5 Ti-VCT Rs 5.64 lakh
Ford EcoSport Trendline 1.5 Ti-VCT Rs 6.65 lakh
Ford EcoSport Ambiente 1.5 TDCi Rs 6.81 lakh
Ford EcoSport Titanium 1.5 Ti-VCT Rs 7.65 lakh
Ford EcoSport Trendline 1.5 TDCi Rs 7.75 lakh
Ford EcoSport Titanium 1.0 Ecoboost Rs 8.1 lakh
Ford EcoSport Titanium 1.0 Ecoboost (Opt) Rs. 8.4 lakh
Ford EcoSport Titanium 1.5 Ti-VCT AT Rs. 8.6 lakh
Ford EcoSport Titanium 1.5 TDCi Rs 8.75 lakh
Ford EcoSport Titanium 1.5 TDCi (Opt) Rs 9.15 lakh
Comparing the features and prices, the Ecosport clearly offers much more value for money.
Next Page for Engine and Performance>>>
Engine & performance
Powering the Duster is a 1598cc K4M petrol engine with peak output rated at 102 bhp @ 5850 RPM, and maximum torque rated at 145 Nm @ 3750 RPM. On the other hand, the Ecosport comes with two petrol engine options. There is the naturally aspirated 1.5L Ti-VCT (Petrol) with maximum power rated at 109bhp @ 6300 RPM and maximum torque 140 Nm @ 4400 RPM. Another option is the turbocharged 1.0 liter Ecoboost engine with an amazing Max Power 123 bhp of peak power at 6000 RPM and peak torque of 170 Nm at 1400 RPM. The Ecosport comes across as advantageous over the Duster in both its petrol engine variants. Especially the Ecoboost offers a massive advantage as regards power as well as torque.
The Duster is powered by a 1.5 dCi diesel engine in two states of tune. The lower spec version produces peak power of 84 bhp @ 3750 rpm and peak torque rated at 200 Nm @ 1900 rpm. The higher spec variant produces 108bhp @ 3900rpm and 248 Nm @ 2250 rpm. Comparing the lower spec engine with Ford Ecosport’s 1.5 TDCi engine with 89bhp and 204Nm may look like a fair content, but the latter has better outright acceleration, better in gear acceleration, top speed and refinement. It’s actually the higher spec 1.5 liter dCi engine which is an apt comparison with the Ecosport’s TDCi unit.
The Duster decidedly has more power in the top of the line diesel variant and resultantly has a quicker 0-100 sprint time. It has a better top speed too and offers more shove when you bury the pedal. The Ecosport’s diesel engine has the advantage of a more linear power delivery and lesser turbo lag, making it a better car to drive within the city. Effectively, that makes the Duster a better car for the highway and the Ecosport a better car for the city. Having said that the Ecosport has enough power and torque take the highway in its stride with confidence too.
Overall, the Duster has a bit more outright grunt when we compare the diesels. However, even with its slight disadvantage, the Ecosport is sufficiently powered and is actually better to drive within the city with a more linear power delivery.
Talking of petrol engine, the Ecosport has a clear advantage over the bigger Duster, both, in terms of options and performance.
|Duster||Fuel efficiency||Ecosport||Fuel efficiency|
|1.5 petrol||13.24 kpl||1.5 Ti-VCT MT||15.8 kpl|
|1.5 Diesel (85PS)||20.45 kpl||1.5 diesel||22.7 kpl|
|1.5 Diesel (110PS)||19.01 kpl||1.0 Ecoboost||18.9 kpl|
|1.5 Ti-VCT AT||15.6 kpl|
Next Page for Handling >>>
The Ecosport is one great machine to be behind the wheel of. The steering wheel, though lighter than the Fords of yore, is still very communicative. The machine is built solid, and feels very European in the way it drives – heavy and poised. Body roll is extremely well contained for a vehicle which has a high ground clearance and falls under the SUV category. The suspension is on the firmer side, but doesn’t translate into being overly stiff.
Around the bends the Ecosport is an absolute delight. Ford’s dynamic DNA is amply evident in the way the compact SUV negotiates turns. The car feels agile, and willing to be pushed to the limit. The balance and agility of the monocoque chassis inspires confidence and invites you to push harder.
The Duster is also a capable handler. Though slightly more softly sprung than the Ecosport, the Duster offers predictable handling and is very stable both in a straight line and around the bends. The real highlight of the Duster is its supreme ride quality, but it doesn’t disappoint when you push it hard around corners too.
The problem with the Duster, however, while pushing it spiritedly around bends is that the steering doesn’t feel very comfortable in the midst of action. It’s heavier than ideal, lacks feels, and has a tendency to resist being twirled hard around corners at speed. It wrangles back as you try to throw the car into a corner, as a result you don’t feel too nice pushing the car to the limit, and don’t enjoy the overall experience too much. There is also a bit of understeer to be experienced with the Duster.
The Duster is predictable, sure footed and well poised, but doesn’t quite have the fun-to-drive charm of the Ecosport. The latter is a better handler and a whole bunch more fun to drive.
Next Page for Ride Quality>>>
This is one area where the Duster stands head and shoulders above any other car across segments. It actually rides better than some model offerings from premium German car brands. The Duster absolutely baffles you with its astounding ride and drives flat over almost anything that the atrocious Indian roads could throw at it. French cars have traditionally been known for their ride quality, and the Duster proves why.
From deceptive undulations on highway to treacherous potholes there is absolutely no variety of roads which the Duster cannot negotiate with utmost ease. The Duster actually disregards minor to medium undulations entirely and entices you to drive over them with utter disdain. From slow to high speeds, the ride quality of the Duster is the absolute benchmark for cars positioned below or above it.
The Ecosport too rides very well for a car with suspension tuned for superior handling. The suspension on the Ecosport, though firm, is very pliant and takes the undulations on road in its stride rather well at medium to high speeds. The dampers have been tuned exceptionally well and soak up the road imperfections with ability which may be easily termed above average.
While more than capable at speed, the Ecosport does show some lack of composure while negotiating sharper bumps at slow speeds. On a rough surface with pronounced imperfections, the ride, especially for the back benchers may get bouncy.
Overall, the Duster rules when it comes to ride quality. It not only manages to surpass the Ecosport by a good margin, but is capable to challenge any car across segments when it comes to handling rough surfaces.
Next Page for Cabin Space>>>
This is another area where the Duster has a clear advantage over the Ecosport. Not only does the former look bigger from the outside, it’s more capacious from the inside as well. The front seats on the Duster are wider (not necessarily more comfortable though), and the shoulder room at the back bench is more as well. The rear seat offers slightly more leg room and better thigh support as well.
The Ecosport on its part comes with very well bolstered front seats which actually turn out to be more comfortable for drivers with slim to medium build. However, the bolstering means that heavily built mortals have their posteriors spilling out sometimes. It’s still not cramped though, and unless you are overly obese, you wouldn’t find the front seats on the Duster unmanageable.
At the back, the Ecosport can seat only two in good comfort, and third occupant will be a squeezier squeeze than the Duster. For two, however, the back bench of the Ecosport is surprisingly comfortable. The seat material and the angle of recline offer great comfort for the occupants and even long journeys are fatigue free. It’s not as spacious as the Duster though. The high window sills and a black interior theme makes the Ecosport’s interior look more cramped than it is. The Duster’s interior looks more airy and expansive.
The Duster has a massive advantage as regards boot space as well, offering more than 120 liters of extra bootspace over the Ecosport’s 346 liters.
It’s almost a no-contest when it comes to space, the Duster is the clear winner here. That, however, doesn’t mean that the Ecosport is uncomfortable or cramped as an individual vehicle. In fact, the Ecosport can ferry four passengers long distance in great comfort.
Next Page for Verdict>>>
With its muscular looks, great ride quality, spacious cabin, reasonably well equipped interior and a price tag which appeared to be great value for money the Duster made great sense only a while ago. However, the killer pricing of the Ecosport has suddenly made it (and every other car in the 6-10 lakh segment) look overpriced.
As individual products the two machines are well matched, with the Duster even having a clear advantage in certain departments. However, bringing the price into the equation, the Ecosport doesn’t leave the Duster any chance. Unless a bigger cabin and a supreme ride quality are the only parameters that matter to you, there is hardly any reason why the Ecosport should not make you stop and think before you buy the Duster.