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Driving impression: Ford EcoSport 1.0 Titanium and Trend





2 August 2018


Back when the Ford EcoSport first made its debut in South Africa, it didn’t have a whole lot of competitors to deal with.

If memory serves, there were around six and the EcoSport was one of the best. Leisure Wheels hosted an event where a bunch of Joe Soaps could drive it and its competitors and it came in third behind the Kia Soul and Renault Duster.

It was a good car, but there were a few drawbacks. The main concern was the quality of the interior, which really wasn’t on par with what everybody else was doing at that time. Still, it was a huge success. It may have come third in our consumer-based shootout, but it was number one in terms of sales. At one point in time, the EcoSport held more than 50% of market share, which is an incredible achievement.

The facelifted model arrived in South Africa a while ago and it’s set to face tough competition. In addition to its previous rivals, it now has to face two competitors from Toyota as well. The first being the CH-R, which caters for people in the market for something funky, while the Rush is meant for the more family orientated individual.

On the outside the changes are noticeable. Ford dropped the thin headlights in favour of a more traditional look that fits in more with the rest of its SUV line-up. There are a few new alloy wheel options, while the rear lights and spare wheel carrier basically remain as is.

The most important upgrades were made to the interior, which is exactly where the EcoSport needed it most.

Upgrades include an entirely new centre console and instrument binnacle, more in line with other cars in its segment. The new layout mimics that of the all-new Fiesta and is logical and easy to use.

Ford’s Sync infotainment system is now much easier to use thanks to a touch-screen interface. The screen is slightly smaller on Trend models, while the top-spec Titanium model includes navigation. The features on this unit include two USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity and voice recognition.

The Trend model has all the luxury features the average South African needs, while the Titanium adds a bunch of items that are nice to have, such as leather seats with heating. We’d actually save a few bucks and opt for the mid-range Trend, as it’s all compact SUV the average person would ever need.

Space wise it’s still acceptable rather than amazing, but it can seat four people with ease. Ford has done a lot to increase luggage space in the boot. The spare wheel is still bolted to the outside, which frees up a lot of room. Underneath the boot floor, you’ll find a hidden space large enough for a small bag and a laptop.

Power is provided by Ford’s award-winning three-cylinder turbocharged petrol powertrain. It’s not hard to see why it has won engine of the year so many times, as it provides zippy acceleration, enough overtaking power and quite a nice noise to listen to when you step on it. This time round the five-speed gearboxes (manual and automatic) have been dropped in favour of six-speed transmissions. They work well, keeping the tiny engine in its powerband most of the time.

Our launch route meandered through some of KwaZulu Natal’s more remote regions, mostly on gravel roads. The EcoSport handled them easy enough, even climbing up a few steep inclines. The traction control worked marvelously, allowing the little SUV to clamber its way up slowly.

Our one concern is the fuel consumption, which hovered around the 10.0l/100km mark on the trip computer. These figures are almost never correct, but the fuel tank level dropped much quicker than we were expecting. The cars were new, however, and we’re willing to glance over this until we get an EcoSport to complete our new standard fuel consumption run. A turbodiesel option is also available, but only in the bargain basement Ambiente specification.

Overall the facelifted EcoSport is a huge leap forward in terms of interior quality and refinement.

Pricing:

EcoSport 1.5 TDCi Ambiente 5MT                             R 264 500

EcoSport 1.0 EcoBoost Trend 6MT                          R 287 500

EcoSport 1.0 EcoBoost Trend 6AT                           R 300 700

EcoSport 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium 6MT                      R 327 800

EcoSport 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium 6AT                       R 339 900

All models come standard with Ford Protect, comprising a four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty, three-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. A four-year/60 000km service plan is included, with 15 000km service intervals.