Eco Sport VS Duster
The compact SUV has proven to be a popular segment in the country, and Ford has pitched the Eco Sport at an amazing price, but will that be enough?
The Duster’s launch a year ago changed Renault’s fortunes in the Indian market. This compact SUV hit a sweet spot with a clever blend of practicality, performance, efficiency and price. Undeniably, however, one of the reasons for the Duster’s runaway success was the absence of a rival. That has just changed.
The Eco Sport is the latest entrant in the segment. Ford has come out, all guns blazing, with a wide range of variants at mouth-watering prices. So, which of these mini SUVs makes more sense?
The Eco Sport looks a clear size smaller than the Duster—its big chrome grille, broad shoulders and bulging wheel arches make it look much more the SUV.
The Eco Sport, although smaller, establishes its SUV stance with that massive grille, the tailgate-mounted spare wheel and the black cladding that runs around the car. It feels better built than the Duster and has a lot more detailing, a contrast to the Duster’s simpler design.The Duster’s boot, at 475 litres, is a lot larger than the Eco Sport’s 362 litres, but the Ford has useful storage space inside the cabin, and is better at keeping out the noise too.
The Duster RXL+’s 84 bhp diesel engine works particularly well, evident in the way it responds. It makes less power than the Eco Sport’s 90 bhp 1.5 diesel but generates as much torque and power is delivered in a more linear fashion as well. The gearshift is accurate and precise as well, the only issue being the clutch, which is quite heavy, and in stop-start traffic, this can be a pain. That said, the great part about the Duster is that it pulls so easily in every gear that it doesn’t require too much gear-changing.
The Eco Sport’s engine is quite responsive, but has more lag than the Duster’s and requires more frequent gear-changing in stop-go traffic. When the road opens out, the Eco Sport has the edge with stronger acceleration.
Ride and handling
The Eco Sport handles bad patches of road quite easily and feels stable at high speeds, but if the road is really bumpy then the car doesn’t quite settle down. The Duster easily trounces the Eco Sport when it comes to ride quality on bad roads. The Eco Sport makes up by being more fun to drive thanks to its light steering and agile handling, which is best appreciated on a twisty road. For Indian road conditions, however, it’s the Duster that works best.