SUV EcoSport a genuine allrounder

Bobby Cheetham

FORD South Africa are having a ball – they are celebrating the launch of their latest vehicle, the long-awaited EcoSport SUV. This launch follows close on the heels of the larger Kuga, which is making a favourable impression on the Naamsa sales charts. This year Ford has also expanded its range with the introduction of the new Fiesta, Transit and Tourneo and Fiesta ST.

Now the smaller EcoSport is set to follow in the Kuga’s footsteps.

What is it?

The EcoSport is a global effort by Ford to bring a stylish and dynamic small SUV to a new generation of customers.

Based on Ford’s global B-segment Fiesta platform, the EcoSport has enough space for five adults and their luggage.

The small SUV is available with three trim levels, three engine options – 1.5l petrol and diesel, and the award-winning three-cylinder 1.0l EcoBoost (it has won international engine of the year this and last year!) – and two transmission variants.

How does it look?

This is what style is all about! Breaking the mould with new design elements, the EcoSport sets new benchmarks in the small SUV segment.

This is how Ford’s marketing manager Gavin Golightly describes it: “Stylish, robust and dynamic, it is set to be a game- changer for us, solidifying Ford’s volume position in South Africa.” And Golightly is right!

What’s it like to drive?

On the launch drive in KwaZulu-Natal earlier this month, we had the opportunity of driving the three-cylinder 1.0l EcoBoost and the 1.5l TDCI Trend.

While both are fun to drive, my favourite was the small engine version. This 1-litre engine, emits a tiger kitten-like growl from the exhaust when the loud pedal is given its head.

Producing 92kW of power with a peak torque of 170Nm, the engine delivers power and performance that rivals traditional 1.6l petrol engines.

Overtaking and cruising at the legal limit are very good and, in fact, was surprising for an engine of this size.

The intercooled and turbocharged 1.5 TDCI Trend also performed well and its strong point is its torque.

With power rated at 66kW at 3750rpm, the engine also delivers an outstanding 205Nm of torque from 2000 rpm to 2750rpm. The result is strong acceleration from standstill together with the flexibility that can reduce the need for gearshifts.

Any special features?

We liked Ford’s EcoBoost technology, which holds more than 125 patents, combines direct fuel injection, turbocharging and variable valve timing to enable a downsized engine to gain fuel economy by up to 20% over larger engines with no loss of performance.

In fact we could not fault this engine at all. It’s brilliant!

Should you buy one?

Yes, it should be high on your shopping list if you are in the market for a new vehicle.

The Nissan Juke is the EcoSport’s main competitor but where Ford steals a march is in the pricing.

The entry level model, the 1.5 TiVCT petrol Ambiente is priced at R199000 while the top of the range 1.5 TDCi Titanium sells for R249000, which fits in the price bracket most budget conscious motorists find themselves.

Get your bum in the driving seat and you will be in for a very pleasant experience!

Well done, Ford!

THE SPECS

Ford Ecosport petrol three-cylinder

Engine: 1.01 litre

Power: 92kW

Torque: 170Nm

0-100km/h: 12.54 seconds

Top Speed: 179km/h

Fuel Consumption: 5.7/100km (claimed combined)

CO2: 131g/km

Price: R224000

Ford Ecosport Trend diesel

Engine: 1.5 litre intercooled and turbocharged

Power: 66kW at 3750rpm

Torque: 205Nm at 2000 – 2750rpm

0-100km/h: 13.72 seconds

Top Speed: 160km/h

Fuel consumption: 4.6/100km (claimed combined)

CO2: 120g/km

Prices: R229000 (TiVCT petrol Ambiente R199 000, GTDi Titanium R244000, TiVCT Titanium Powershift R244000, TDCi Titanium R249000)

We like: Styling and design. The engine line-up.

We don’t like: Ford South Africa not able to supply a comprehensive list of engine specifications and performance figures to the media at the launch. Hope they will treat their customers differently!

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