Two compact SUVs which are refined. One offers comfort while the other is engaging to drive. Read on to decide which one’s your best bet.
One of the fastest growing segments in the 4-wheeler market today is the compact SUV segment with some excellent offerings available to consumers. The Maruti Vitara Brezza is the leader of the pack when it comes to sales, but apart from that, Tata offers the very promising Nexon which was launched last year after a lot of hoopla while Ford has recently given the EcoSport a major facelift. Since we have already compared the Nexon to the Vitara Brezza earlier, we now pit it directly against the Ford EcoSport.
Motor Quest: The Tata Nexon was showcased at the 2016 Auto Expo and was launched in September 2017. Meanwhile, the Ford EcoSport made its India debut at the 2012 Auto Expo and went to kickstart the sub-4-metre compact SUV segment in the country.
Styling – When it comes to looks, the Nexon looks quite funky but the rear end has a quirky design element which may not be liked by everyone. The car also doesn’t look very big on the outside and can easily pass off as a hatchback on steroids. The EcoSport, on the other hand, looks quite butch in comparison and the refreshed version which we’re driving comes with a redesigned front fascia. So, when it comes to design both the cars appeal to a different set of audiences.
Interiors – Both the cars have a very practical interior and the dashboards of both the vehicles are user-friendly. The Ford’s instrument cluster is very basic though, while the Nexon gets a more stylish unit. In terms of materials, both the car have good quality components used. Fit and finish is also good in most areas but the Nexon has some rough areas too. The infotainment system on the Nexon is super when it comes to sound quality and is definitely a few notches above the one of the EcoSport. However, the unit on the EcoSport isn’t all that bad either and it produces decent enough sound. The screen on the EcoSport is very fluid and also gets a glossy finish while the one on the Nexon has a matte finish. Both the cars get Android Auto, reverse camera (but the one on the Nexon also shows adaptive guidelines), auto headlamps, auto wipers but the Nexon also gets rear AC vents which the EcoSport doesn’t get. The EcoSport is the only one to get Apple CarPlay here, the Nexon doesn’t have this feature yet.
Both cars come with practical cabins with plenty of storage bins, the premium car like storage next to the handbrake in the Nexon looks really nice while the EcoSport gets a sliding armrest with an integrated storage. All the doors of both the cars can easily swallow a 1-litre water bottle. The Nexon also gets an umbrella holder which although needs a bit of push and pull to use, is a nifty feature in the rains. Both cars come with projector headlights, LED DRLs, keyless go, push button start, steering mounted audio controls, ABS, dual airbags, alloy wheels, climate control AC and a touchscreen infotainment system.
The front seats on the EcoSport are excellent when it comes to support and comfort and lower back support is good while the seats on the Nexon get a softer cushioning. Lower back support on the Nexon could have been better and it becomes a slight cause of concern during long drives. The rear seat of the EcoSport is also very good but it lacks in knee room where the Nexon has an edge over its rival. Head room is decent on both cars, but slightly better in the EcoSport. However, none of these cars can seat 5 people in comfort. Both of them are good as 4 seaters only and you can probably squeeze in a child as the third passenger in the rear seat. The EcoSport’s boot (352-litres) is leagues ahead in terms of practicality because loading and unloading is easy while the Nexon (350-litres) also has a good enough luggage capacity.
Performance – The Ford EcoSport comes with a 1.5-litre petrol engine while the Nexon gets a 1.2-litre mill. The engine on the EcoSport has more power than that of the Nexon while torque is a bit lesser. Both the powertrains are 3-cylinder units but are pretty much refined. The EcoSport petrol has very good driveability and the engine is also free-revving while the Nexon’s petrol powerplant has a very poor low-end and the mid-range isn’t all that responsive too. It needs to be revved all the time to extract the maximum output. This results in poor driveability, especially in the city. Fuel efficiency isn’t very high and the Nexon gives around 9-10 km/l in the city while the EcoSport is slightly better at around 11-12 km/l.
Tata is soon going to launch AMT versions of the Nexon petrol and diesel. Fuel efficiency is equally good on both cars here, only Ford offers an automatic transmission option for now.
The EcoSport petrol has 2 gearbox options – 5-speed manual and 6-speed torque converter instead of the older DCT. The manual gearbox is slick and the clutch is fairly light and the DCT is also a good choice for someone who wants convenience. It isn’t meant for a sporty drive but offers adequately quick gear shifts and there’s no lag as such. The AT also gets a manual mode.
The diesel-powered Nexon beats the EcoSport diesel in the 0-100 km/hr sprint and outright acceleration.Both these compact SUVs get 1.5-litre diesel engines. Tata’s engine is all-new and it provides pretty good driveability with a powerful mid-range but it isn’t as exciting an engine as Ford’s TDCI unit which is just a beast and accelerates in a wild manner. The Nexon’s turbo lag feels a bit more pronounced than that on the EcoSport. The Nexon gets different driving modes which alter the power delivery and the car feels best in Sport mode on highways, while City mode is good enough for regular usage. Eco mode robs the car of a lot of power. The Nexon’s clutch is lighter than the one on the EcoSport but the EcoSport’s gear lever gives out more feedback. Fuel efficiency is similar for both cars, ranging from 14-16 km/l in the city and going all the way to 19 km/l on the highways.
Driving Dynamics – When it comes to ride quality, Tata Motors is hard to beat and the Nexon is very comfortable with its supple ride with its dual path suspension. The EcoSport now comes with a softened suspension but the ride is still on the stiffer side. What is surprising is that the Ford now comes with 17-inch low profile tyres which add to the stiffness of the ride.
Both the cars have good steering but the wheel on the EcoSport gives out a bit more feedback but is very light otherwise, even at high speeds. In comparison, the Nexon has a light steering but it has been tuned to weigh up as speeds gather. The EcoSport also feels pretty easy to drive around. Braking performance is very good on both these offerings, but the brakes on the EcoSport are a tad better than the Nexon.
Safety and After Sales Service – The most important point is after-sales service. While Tata Motors definitely has a wider network of service centres, the service quality levels have always been inconsistent and owners have had good as well as bad stories to tell. Ford has a lower number of service centres but the company has time and again stressed on how their service costs are lower thanks to the child parts policy.
Verdict – Both these compact SUVs are good packages and come with good diesel engines, lots of features and nice practicality. If you really want a compact SUV with a petrol engine, we highly recommend the EcoSport over the Nexon but if you want a diesel car, choosing 1 between these 2 would be a tough call. If you can live with a cramped rear seat, the EcoSport would be our pick but if you want more space and don’t mind the Tata badge, the Nexon is the one to go for.