The new automatic version of the Ford EcoSport is an impressive all-rounder, writes Aditya Bengali

With the traffic situations in most cities getting worse by the day, automatics seem to be the best option for urban streets. There’s no hassle of constantly shifting gears in stop-go traffic and neither is there stepping on the clutch. This certainly makes it a lot more relaxing to drive even in heavy traffic. However, here in India, gearless cars haven’t caught on yet. For two main reasons — they’re expensive than the manual versions and they are also less fuel efficient. So, it’s not often that automatics are considered by the practical buyer.

This is where the EcoSport A/T steps in. The big news is that with this car, the first hurdle that of a high price is all but taken care of. The automatic transmission equipped EcoSport 1.5-litre petrol is priced at a relatively affordable Rs. 8.45 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). Then, because a twin clutch automatic gearbox is used, efficiency and power aren’t too badly affected either.

The EcoSport uses the same six-speed dual-clutch gearbox as the one found on the Ford Fiesta. While driving in the city in ‘D’ mode, the automatic gearbox upshifts early, maintaining a relatively low engine speed in a bid to improve fuel economy. A dab on the throttle gets it moving quite nicely. Ask for a bit more acceleration however and the engine’s lack of oomph in the mid-range comes through. The response is there when you press your foot down on the accelerator but it is not in line with what you expect to get back from the car.

You eventually learn to go flat on the throttle in order to get the box to downshift. Now there’s much more power and enthusiasm on hand as the EcoSport sheds its lethargic nature and the Ford gathers momentum smartly. The engine does get a bit noisy when the car is driven in this manner but at least you are not lacking in performance. The correct thing to do if you are in a bit of a hurry is stick the car in Sport mode. Here, it holds on to gears for longer and the EcoSport feels peppier and more responsive to drive. The ‘S’ mode also lets you manually select gears but the medium is a bit unusual. There is a small button that’s all but hidden from view on the side of the gear lever. This allows gears to be clicked up and down. It may take a little getting used to but the system works well. We tested the EcoSport A/T and found it covered the 0-100kph speed range in 13.5 seconds; not lightening quick by any standards.

Otherwise the EcoSport is a great all rounder. It has that pseudo SUV look that we Indians love and on the inside, it offers a decently spacious cabin it rides and handles well and now equipped with the automatic gearbox makes a stronger argument for itself.

The Ford EcoSport A/T is only available with the 1.5-litre petrol engine in the Titanium trim, and costs Rs 8.45 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). This, of course, also makes it good value for money. Sure, the combination of this engine and automatic gearbox may not be the best pairing ever. More performance would be welcome, but it gets the job done and combined with the rest of the car, makes for a great package.