The latest Ford Endeavour has all the qualities of the previous model and more. Hormazd Sorabjeechecks it out

The Ford Endeavour has been basking in the niche that it created in the market, with no direct competition for three years now. Its battle-tank image, sheer road presence and price have kept it on top. It isn’t like there aren’t any contenders out there, the Tata Safari is as comfortable and spacious but isn’t as tough and the Pajero might be even better than the Endeavour on certain levels but is Rs. 5 lakh more expensive. However, it is a wise move on Ford’s part to spruce-up the Endeavour as very soon, Toyota will arrive with the Fortuner and this will be a threat to the Endeavour.

The nose of the new Endeavour is a square design that extends down to the bumper as opposed to the earlier rectangular grille. The bumper, bonnet and headlights are also different. Besides a new-look tail lamp and top light in the roof-spoiler the rear remains the same. A slim panel has been placed at the bottom of the doors and the earlier chunky door cladding is no longer there and this takes away from the car’s butch image. The tyres are narrower than in the earlier version and though this weakens the Endeavour’s stance, it provides lower rolling resistance, which results in better fuel efficiency. The steering is light as well.

Most of the changes are under the skin and have been made to improve the vehicle’s dynamics. The ladder-chassis has been made more rigid with overlapping cross-bracing to improve the handling, while the rear suspension has been heavily modified with wider shocks, longer leaf springs and the inclusion of an anti-roll bar.

Smooth ride

When we drove the new Endeavour, we felt it provided a softer ride than the previous model. It is a lot more settled over uneven surfaces but sharp bumps really jolt the passengers. We have always appreciated the steering of the Ford for its response and accuracy. It only gets better on the new Endeavour.

To demonstrate its 4X4 capabilities, Ford set up a tiny off-road course. The ground clearance and torque available on this car are enough to gobble up mini mountain ranges, the brakes are superb and the anti-lock system works with superior efficiency especially on slippery surfaces.

What is absolutely new is the engine. An all-aluminium common rail, 16-valve motor with a variable geometry turbocharger develops 143bhp and 33.6 kgm of torque. The new Endeavour accelerates in a fairly linear way and thankfully, the infuriatingly lazy low-end response of the old motor is gone. There is still a bit of turbo-lag below 1800rpm, after which the engine picks up cleanly. The mid-range is superb and the action is concentrated between 1800 and 3500rpm. However, we expected a lot more punch from this new motor. It did not feel like there was a 28 per cent increase in power.

Relaxed cruiser

The tall gearing that is to serve the purpose of better fuel efficiency is what blunts the performance of the Ford. Though we were unable to test Ford’s claim that this model is 22 per cent more fuel efficient than the last, we know for sure it is definitely more frugal than the old Endeavour. The gearshift is pretty good and with three synchro rings, has a nice, positive shift but you do require some effort. An advantage of the taller gearing is that the Endeavour is a relaxed cruiser and owners will appreciate the low-stressed manner in which it ambles down highways. The interiors are the best achievement and impressed us the most. The outdated, tacky dashboard has been replaced by a well-finished cabin which is a pleasure to be in. The sporty-looking hooded dials, heavily textured and exquisitely-finished black plastic strips and the rich, pleated leather seats make the Endeavour look more expensive than it actually is. The silver-finished central console seemed a little out of place but has been well received by most and functions perfectly well.

Though the seats are spacious and have loads of width and headroom, the high floor of the ladder chassis is a design flaw that Ford could not manage to sort out. The seats therefore, are too low off the floor and the passengers sit in a knee-up position. The approximate price of the new Endeavour might be around Rs. 50,000 more than the old model (almost Rs. 15.5 lakh for the 2WD version). This continues to keep the Endeavour in a good place in the market, at least till the Toyota Fortuner arrives.