Ford Ecosport Facelift vs Tata Nexon compact SUVs: Who should buy what

Tata entered the sub 4-meter compact SUV segment earlier this year with the introduction of the Nexon. The sales figures of the Nexon shows that rising popularity of the Tata’s latest product in the market. However, Ford launched the facelifted EcoSport with significant changes earlier this month. We compare both the vehicles to tell you who should buy what.

Which one looks better?

The EcoSport is the latest entrant in the segment but it carries the same the silhouette as the previous model. The Nexon, however, is an all-new vehicle and looks very futuristic in the terms of design. The Nexon looks the unique because of its flowing curvy design lines. With elements like dual tone roof and shoulder line creases in contrasting colours and LED tail lamps and DRLs, the Nexon does catch a lot of eyes on the road.

The EcoSport looks like a true blue SUV that has shrunk in size. The bigger grille and the biggest 17-inch alloy wheels in the segment provides an intimidating stance. The EcoSport looks more powerful than the Nexon on the road but it does not catch as many eyes as the Nexon.

Nexon – 1, EcoSport – 0

Which one offers better interiors?

The Nexon and EcoSport are the only vehicles in the segment that offers floating infotainment systems. Both the vehicles offer class-leading features. The EcoSport offers all-black interiors with leather seats. The centre of the dashboard holds the SYNC3 8-inch screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. The EcoSport feels much more premium with a better grip of the steering wheel and features like central locking button placed on the driver as well as the passenger side. It also feels the most solidly-built vehicle in its segment.

The Nexon, on the other hand, gets a dual tone dashboard and a “Grand Central Console” in the middle that has a sliding top. It makes the Nexon’s interiors look and feel much more premium. The Nexon does not offer leather seats. However, it offers better space management with bigger bottle holders on the doors. Nexon also offers 8-speaker system sourced from Harman. The system sounds much better than the EcoSport’s system.

The Nexon and the EcoSport are neck to neck when the interiors are compared but with the built quality of Ford and its  bigger, and much more intuitive touch-sensitive infotainment gives it a few additional points over the Nexon.

Nexon – 0, EcoSport – 1

Driving experience

Tata launched all-new engines with the Nexon while Ford launched an all-new petrol engine with the EcoSport. Nexon is yet to offer an automatic variant to the customers but we will compare all the available engines and transmission of both the vehicles to tell you which one offers what.

Highway (petrol) –Ford launched the new 1.5-litre three-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine in India with the EcoSport. The new engine offers 120 Bhp – 150 Nm and is offered with both 5-speed manual and 6-speed torque converter automatic transmission. The petrol engine is very smooth and the vibrations are not felt even at the higher bands. However, the engine makes a lot of noise. The 120 Bhp power on the tap is enough to take the EcoSport ahead of other vehicles on the highways but the 150 Nm torque a feels wee-bit less at lower rpms.

The Nexon is powered by a 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine that develops 108 bhp – 170 Nm. It is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission that has a tall sixth gear. The Nexon is a hoot to drive, especially when the turbocharger comes into play. The Nexon also offers driving modes that change the power delivery and throttle response of the engine. The Nexon definitely feels much more enjoyable with more torque in the lower RPMs and high revving engine.

Highway (Diesel) – The EcoSport is powered by the same 1.5-litre diesel engine that produces 98 Bhp – 205 Nm. The tried and tested engine is mated to five-speed manual transmission. Compared to the Nexon, it feels little underpowered. The Nexon is powered by an all-new 1.5-litre engine that produces 108 Bhp – 260 Nm feels adequately powered and again, the driving modes give an edge to the Nexon on engine’s front.

EcoSport – 0, Nexon – 1

Handling – The EcoSport is a very planted vehicle on the highway and remains the enthusiast’s choice when it comes to driving. The sharp and precise steering feedback makes it a much more engaging car than the Nexon. On the highways, one would feel more confident while driving the EcoSport than the Nexon.

EcoSport – 1, Nexon – 0

City (petrol) – Inside the city limits, the Nexon is a hoot to drive. The high revving engine alongside short first gear helps the Nexon to lunge ahead of the pack. The EcoSport can feel bit heavy inside the city limits due to the lower torque output. However, there is no automatic option with the Nexon. The EcoSport offers a 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters, which can be fun but again, the missing low-end torque can be a concern for many.

Diesel – The story of the diesel engine is similar to the petrol inside the city limits. The lower torque output of the EcoSport is quite evident during the initial pick-up. The Nexon feels much better, more agile and quicker than the EcoSport inside the city limits.

EcoSport – 0, Nexon – 1

To sum it up

The EcoSport should be the first choice for people who love to drive. The car offers much better driving experience and with the six-speed automatic with paddle shifters, it will attract a large portion of enthusiasts towards it. The EcoSport also feels more premium than the Nexon and features like rear seat recline gives it an advantage over Nexon.

The Nexon is for people who want something unique and want to be in the spotlight, at least till the novelty value of the new design wears off. The Nexon’s powerful engine options and the distinctive design are the strong points of the vehicle but driving experience can be hampered due to the suspension and steering set-up. It’s a well rounded, interesting new offering in its segment.