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Car and Motorbike Reviews

Mercedes-AMG S65 Coupe (2017) review

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References

  1. ^ compatibility view settings (windows.microsoft.com)

Ford EcoSport Facelift: First drive review

The Ford EcoSport is back with a new face but it’s what lies beneath that could prove to be a key factor in the revival of this pioneering compact SUV

Ford EcoSport Facelift

The new Ford EcoSport[1] receives a mild facelift and the changes under the skin are what make a significant difference in the package. Gone is the critically acclaimed and award winning 1.0 EcoBoost engine that couldn’t find favour with Indian customers. The other 4-cylinder petrol has also been axed and in its place is a new 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder petrol that is lighter and promises to be more efficient as well.

The new automatic transmission also assures to offer petrol buyers a smoother drive in the city. Ford also promises the cheapest cost of ownership in the class and this could be just the boost that the EcoSport needed to regain the ground it’s lost since it was launched in 2013. Ford EcoSport Facelift

Exterior

Ford EcoSport Facelift

While this, technically, is a mid-life facelift for the EcoSport, we have surprisingly little to write about, in this section of the review. The narrow slat that used to lie just under the bonnet has been deleted and the grill now moves higher up on the face of the EcoSport. The Ford logo now moves from the missing slat to the centre of the grill, like in the Endeavour[2] and other Ford family cars of this generation.

Ford EcoSport Facelift The headlamps are larger and the round fog lamps below have been replaced by much larger triangular units. The bottom splitter has also received a mild redesign and the top-of-the-line Titanium Plus model receives 17-inch alloys.

And that is essentially it; the sides and the rear of the EcoSport remain the same. That said, the EcoSport was always pleasant to look at and we can’t fault Ford for not messing with a design that already works well. Ford EcoSport Facelift

Interior

Ford EcoSport Facelift

One aspect of the EcoSport that has aged since it was introduced back in 2013 is the interior and Ford certainly has answered that call with this update. The new all-black interiors, spearheaded by an 8-inch touchscreen display are just what the doctor ordered. There’s a new instrument cluster too, with a central display surrounded by gloss black inserts and a new steering wheel (with paddle shifts on the AT model) that has been lifted from the international Ford Focus.

Ford EcoSport Facelift The front seats are wider with better side bolstering and softer cushioning. The rear has improved contouring with softened cushioning, just like the front.

And now, the back also gets a drop-down armrest with cup holders. Overall, the seats are both supportive and comfortable, which we can tell you after having spent a whole day behind the wheel with no fatigue at all. Ford EcoSport Facelift

Boot space remains the same at 346 litres, but Ford has made a few changes here with a new three position floor for the boot. The bottom most position gives you the most space, while the second position, that is about two and a half inches higher up, leaves a small compartment under the floor, that Ford says, can hide belongings, like a SM© Laptop bag, away from prying eyes. A slightly angled third position allows the floor to match the height of the rear seat backs when they are folded down, giving you one flat surface.

In this position, you have a generous 1178 litres of space. Ford EcoSport Facelift

Technology

Ford EcoSport Facelift Another area that needed to be addressed was tech and with new competition from the likes of the Honda WR-V[3], the Maruti Vitara Brezza[4] and the Tata Nexon[5], Ford has had to step up its game too.

The EcoSport’s new touchscreen takes it right to the front of the pack in this regard. The 8-inch screen is bright and responsive and the third generation of Ford’s SYNC interface is intuitive and easy to operate. It features the now obligatory Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as well.

There are even two SM© USB ports on the central to help charge your personal tech, along with a 12V socket. Ford EcoSport Facelift The instrument cluster is also new, but it gets a rather odd looking information display.

While it could have been better in terms of aesthetics, it does provide all the information you need and even includes a display for the tyre pressure monitoring system. The EcoSport also features rain sensing wipers and automatic headlamps but no sunroof or rear air con vents. That said, during our drive on a hot day in Goa with four people in the car, there was never any complaint from either of our rear passengers.

Ford even claims that the air con will cool the cabin down from 50 degrees to 25 degrees in less than 15 minutes and we see no reason to doubt them. Ford EcoSport Facelift Another nice feature in the top-end variant is the keyless entry system which features a sensor on both driver and passenger door handles.

If you have the key in your pocket, the door will unlock as soon as you grab the door handle. Tap the handle when you leave and voila! The car is locked.

Ford EcoSport Facelift

Engine and Performance

The EcoSport now comes with just two engine options – a 1.5-litre petrol and a 1.5-litre diesel. The petrol engine is an all-new 3-cylinder naturally aspirated unit. It makes a healthy 123PS of power and 150Nm of torque.

This engine is more compact, lighter and is also claimed to be more efficient than the engine it replaces. Ford has gone to great lengths to quieten the thrummy nature of the 3-cylinder. There’s now a balancer to reduce vibrations and they even have the timing belt, which usually is open to the elements, running in an oil bath.

At idle and start up, it still sounds like a typical 3-cylinder, but as soon as you get moving, it quietens down. It’s really nice to drive at city speeds because all that power has been focused around low- to mid-range rpm and trails off at higher revs. Ford EcoSport Facelift

The 1.5-litre diesel makes the same 100PS and 205Nm as before, but has received a different state of tune. The difference is not noticeable though, and the diesel is still a very pleasant motor to drive, with a very linear torque curve and barely any noticeable step up in acceleration when the turbo kicks in. What has increased though, with this new tune, is the claimed mileage which has now stands at 23kmpl, a good 3kmpl more than earlier.

The petrol also promises one more kilometer per litre at a claimed efficiency of 17kmpl. Another new and significant change to the EcoSport package is a new conventional automatic transmission that replaces the more advanced dual clutch transmission that was earlier offered with the previous 1.5-litre petrol power plant. This new transmission may be old school, but the way it behaves is much more suited to the EcoSport.

It’s much better than the gearbox it replaces and at city duties, it feels quicker too. Shifts are butter smooth and though they are a little slower, they are much more predictable and you never feel unsure of what will happen when you punch the throttle. This allows you to get on with enjoying the drive and makes for effortless city commuting.

Ride and Handling

Ford EcoSport Facelift

Ford says the only changes it has made to the suspension is to the bushes, but this seems to have made quite a difference in the way the car rides. It goes over bumps and speed breakers in a much more composed fashion and while the suspension is still quite sporty, i.e. firm, there is very little sound that makes way into the cabin. Only really sharp bumps like level changes and rumble strips make their presence felt in the cabin.

But those apart, the EcoSport is a very quiet place to ride in. Even road and engine noise at city speeds is very nicely controlled and this makes for an even more comfortable experience. Ford EcoSport Facelift

Like all Fords, steering feel is excellent and this combines well with the sporty suspension setup around corners. There is still some body roll that comes from the tall boy stance and the short wheelbase, but it’s still fairly well controlled. Together, they keep the sporty edge, that the EcoSport had, alive even today.

What could do with some improvement though, are the Bridgestone Ecopia 205/50R17 tyres which don’t feel as if they offer as much grip as we know this chassis can handle.

Verdict

Ford EcoSport Facelift While on the surface, the changes seem small, they have made a great deal of difference to the way the new EcoSport drives and feels. The new petrol engine and smooth automatic transmission are also great additions to the new lineup.

And the technology package has also brought it at par with the competition. Ford even say that it has increased the level of localisation in the car from 60-65 per cent to nearly 85 per cent, and this should help in pricing it really really competitively. To top it all, the company is even promising that it will cost between 7 to 10 per cent lesser to maintain than even the Maruti Vitara Brezza.

Taking all this into consideration, it seems that the EcoSport is all set to reclaim the limelight it received when it was launched in 2013.

Photography: Vikrant Date

References

  1. ^ Ford EcoSport (www.cardekho.com)
  2. ^ Endeavour (www.cardekho.com)
  3. ^ Honda WR-V (www.cardekho.com)
  4. ^ Maruti Vitara Brezza (www.cardekho.com)
  5. ^ Tata Nexon (www.cardekho.com)

2018 BMW M4 CS review: Track test

It’s been a long time coming, but there’s a new BMW M4 that sits above the M4 Competition and its called the M4 CS. It’s quicker, yes, but not by much.

After more than a decade of testing hundreds of cars, there are still only a handful that really stand out, at least, for this tester. The Bugatti Veyron is certainly one, but another is the BMW E46 CSL we were able to unleash at full-noise on some perfectly manicured German B-roads.

But that was in 2009, and ever since, we’ve been waiting patiently for the next edition of a proper hard-core BMW M coupe to arrive. That would be above and beyond the M4 Competition Package, but more affordable than the stratospherically-priced M4 GTS. That time has finally come.

It’s called the BMW M4 CS and it’s positioned smack bang in the middle of the two cars mentioned above – meaning at £211,610 plus on-roads, it’s still a fair bit more than the bargain-priced M4 Pure.

By way of comparison, the entry-level M4 Pure Coupe will cost you £139,900 (plus on-roads), while the M4 Coupe is priced from £149,900, and the M4 Competition will set you back £154,900, still £56,710 less than the CS. While it’s certainly not as hardcore in the same way the stripped-out CSL was, it is, however, a more potent and more exotic machine than the M4 Competition, with killer looks to match. The moniker itself pays homage to the CS heroes of the past, like the Bertone-styled 3200 CS of 1962, followed by the 2000 CS in 1965 and the beautiful E9 Series 3.0 CS of 1971.

The badge was briefly revived for the late-run UK market E46 Series M3 CS in 2005, but known here as ‘Competition Package’. Lighter, faster and considerably more exclusive than any of its current M4 siblings, BMW plans to build just 3000 cars, globally. Meaning, the latest incarnation of the M4 CS is unlikely to ever become a common sight on our roads.

Visually, it’s already a winner, especially draped in the stunning San Marino Blue paint our tester was wearing. It looks special. So, too, do the various carbon-fibre bits (beautifully lacquered) including the boot lip spoiler and deep-seated front diffuser, which is bespoke to the CS, while out back, the carbon-fibre rear diffuser is lifted straight from the M4 GTS.

And given our track-day focus with the CS, it was good to see our track car for the morning wearing the fade-free ceramic braking system, easily visible behind the lightweight forged 10-spoke alloy wheels. We’re told these are inspired by an M4 DTM race car. They’re big stoppers, too, featuring ultra-lightweight discs with six-pot calipers up front and four down back, for what promises to deliver huge performance here at Winton Raceway.

Overall, it’s a lightweight machine, stripping down to just 1580kg. By way of comparison, it’s lighter than the M4 Competition with DCT by 35kg, thanks to the use of more carbon-fibre bits, including the bonnet. We know that because you can lift it with your little finger.

Like the M4 Pure, the M4 CS uses a carbon-fibre roof that shaves another 6kg off a regular metal-fashioned unit. Along with the redesigned headlight bezels, in line with the latest LCI updates, it also gets the same fancy OLED taillights from the M4 GTS. Climb aboard, and you’ll immediately notice the spiced-up cockpit.

We especially like the steering wheel; round, and wrapped entirely in Alcantara, except for the M-coloured twin-stitching and on-centre marker. It’s a breath of fresh air amongst the misguided trend of silly, flat-bottom versions. There’s more super-soft Alcantara smeared across the dash and throughout the centre console.

Even the seat bolsters are upholstered in the stuff, though, the inserts are just plain leather. The door trim is more interesting; mostly, it’s made from compacted natural fibres, but as well as losing the door pockets, gone too, are the traditional grab handles – replaced by racing-style M-striped door pull straps. They’re cool, too, but unless there’s a hidden storage compartment, you’ll struggle to lock down phones, wallets and keys in the M4 CS.

That could make life difficult for those intending to ‘daily’ this go-fast Beemer. It might be a more serious version of the M4, but the CS is still loaded to the hilt with all the usual creature comforts BMW owners are accustomed to. Kit such as the latest iDrive6 infotainment system, head-up display with M contents, satellite navigation and a specially adapted 12-speaker sound system.

That said, we’re not sure if the single-zone air con system is about weight-saving or margin boosting. Either way, it definitely works well on hot days – as we found out. Under the bonnet is where things get a little more serious, though, not as much as you might have imagined, given its price premium over the M4 Competition.

Effectively, it’s the same twin-turbo 3.0-litre straight-six engine, but with the benefit of a software upgrade, power jumps a trifling 7kW to 338kW, while torque swells by 50Nm to 600Nm. Straight-line performance is up, too, though only slightly, with the M4 CS able to dispatch the benchmark 0-100km/h sprint in 3.9 seconds – one tenth better than the M4 Pure and M4 Competition. I know what you’re thinking, there doesn’t appear to be much in it, at least on paper.

But, let’s be fair. It not only matches the £300k M4 GTS, but also lines up with the likes of the £262,250 Porsche 911 Carrera S with PDK (and Sports Chrono), as well as the cheaper £162,115 Mercedes-Benz C63 S AMG Coupe. The good news is we’ve got an M3 Competition here at Winton for some back-to-back laps with the CS, which is the first cab off the rank.

Even at idle, it sounds more serious than the M3 Comp, thanks to that carbon-fibre bonnet. And there’s more of that boosted straight-six noise finding its way into the cabin. We’ve dialled up the MDM Dynamic Mode for manual paddle-shifting and set everything to Sport – that’s engine, transmission, steering and suspension, while we familiarise ourselves with the car and track.

But, within half a lap, the Micheline Pilot Sport Cup 2s are warm, and we start to push. Winton is a tight circuit with plenty of corners to test a chassis. Straight up, I like the instant throttle response, and you can definitely feel that extra torque at work.

The M4 CS pulls hard from way down in the rev range, and it keeps on hauling. Flat to the boards down the main straight shifting into fourth at 7200rpm before jumping on the anchors for Turn 1 – when you realise the sheer stopping power available. Next lap, we’ll be braking a lot later.

Initially, we’re still a bit hesitant to get back on the power too early on the exit to Turn 2, given the sketchy handling characteristics of the previous M4 Coupe under power. But, like the updated LCI versions, there’s nothing to fear any more. You can feel the Cup 2s biting into the tarmac, while lateral stability is superb.

Same goes for the balance, it feels like a properly sorted chassis now – it didn’t before. Likewise, the steering. It’s a quick rack, but we can’t say there’s a ton of feedback through the wheel.

We’d like more, especially on turn-in, but the weighting is good. Time to amp it up and switch everything to Sports +, though we’re still a tad worried that throttle response and power delivery might be too sharp for its own good. Not so.

While I’m careful not to give it a boot full, too early, there’s a steady wave of torque that allows for fast and furious corner exits. I’m liking this – a lot. It isn’t long before we start to really push this thing.

That’s not about ego, but all about the new-found confidence we have in this new M car. It’s more punchier and even more responsive than the M3 Competition (remembering that is the sedan), but trust me, there isn’t a whole lot in it. We’re driving both cars hard, over repeated four-lap stints, and apart from the extra torque, stupefying brake performance from the carbon ceramics, and sure-fire grip from the Cup 2 tyres, the M3 Comp’s performance on track is truly excellent given its standard hardware package.

Which begs the question, as sharp as the M4 CS is, and it is that, is it worth the £71,000 – give or take – over an M4 Pure? Not unless you value exclusivity and rarity (we get that). And remember, those brakes, which we rate so highly, at least on track, are a £15,000 optional extra.

At this point, it doesn’t quite stack up, for as much as you’ll enjoy punting the CS around a race track, it’s a lot of coin for only marginally better performance, though we’re yet to drive it on Aussie roads for a more definitive answer.

Click on the Gallery tab for more photos of the BMW M4 CS.

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