By Khulekani Dumisa
How do you get noticed in a crowded room full of capable players? New artists are always rocking up in the music scene and when you think you have seen it all, a new unique voice arrives, and not only finds success, but redefines the rules of the game. This is also the case in the car industry. Manufacturers are always trying to introduce new players in segments that they are not represented in. This has become especially critical in this SUV crazed world. Who would have thought we would ever see a Bentley SUV? I digress. When Ford brought the Ecosport to South African in 2013, the SUV market already had capable players and there were no guarantees that the Ecosport would get noticed in the crowded SUV segment.
Recently we drove the 1.0L EcoBoost Ford Ecosport Titanium and got to experience first-hand what has made the car popular with the South African buyer. Outside, the Ford Ecosport’s design is quite utilitarian. The Ecosport is narrow which makes it ideal for navigating busy city streets and squeezing into tight shopping centre parking bays. The front of the car is dominated by a large grille which enjoys some titanium treatment in the higher specced models. The sides have a horizontal line which gives the car some character to what would otherwise be a simple design. The cutest part of the exterior is the spare wheel mounted on the back door of the car which gives the car a macho SUV appeal.
Inside the Ecosport is what you would expect from any Ford product. The dash is user friendly although dated. Synch is no gimmick and connects easily to a smart phone, recognises the South African English for voice commands and reads back texts thus making the driving experience less stressful. Upfront, there is ample room for the driver and the front passenger. There is sufficient legroom for the back passengers but you would struggle to fit three adults in there, especially for a long trip. The back is therefore ideally suited for three small children or two adult occupants. The boot is on the small side but the back seats can be folded to extend the boot space. The back passengers also benefit from their own 12v power socket, an important feature in a world where everyone wants stay connected.
With its 200mm ground clearance, the Ecosport provides the driver with an elevated driving position which helps the driver spot potential road hazards from a distance. The cabin is surprisingly quiet. The drive is solid and composed. Our test Ford Ecosport Titanium had Ford’s capable 1.0L Ecoboost engine which is good for 92kW of power and 170Nm of torque. This engine had more than enough power to carry the car with four adult occupants and some luggage without any complaint. I never felt the need to gear down for more power even when approaching inclines. There is a slight turbo delay when taking off at times but that rarely happened and did not spoil my overall driving experience. The fuel consumption was not bad and I averaged 6.7 l/100 km.
With its simple design, sufficient comfort and practicality, Ford has ensured that the Ford Ecosport has been able to stand out in a crowded SUV segment. At R310,900, I probably would not choose our test Ecosport but I would go for something that is a bit lower in the line-up to maximise the value proposition that has been championed by the Ecosport. I am looking forward to testing the new Ford Ecosport that is said to launch in South Africa in 2018.
These are the prices of the complete Ford Ecosport range at the time of writing this article:
1.5L Ambiente – R255,400
1.0L EcoBoost Trend – R283,900
1.5L TDCi Trend – R286,900
1.0L EcoBoost Titanium – R310,900
1.5L TDCi Titanium – R311,900
1.5 Titanium Powershift – R315,900
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