Ford’s EcoSport comes to SA soon after its international debut in India. The so-called “urban sports utility vehicle” is one of many compact crossover SUVs planned by rival manufacturers following the massive success of Nissan’s Juke, and the pricing shows the Ford Motor Company has aimed the latest SUV squarely at the Japanese volume seller, positioning it just under Juke prices. With Land Rover, Jeep and Porsche all reported to be working on their own crossover versions, it also won’t be the last attempt we see at taking a slice of what is predicted to be a very lucrative market.
What is a compact crossover, or CUV?
The aim of the compact crossover is to offer something between a sedan and an SUV, with space and versatility akin to the family car, but with the increased ride height and ground clearance of an SUV bundled into the package. That means that it compromises less on practicality and on-road handling than a traditional SUV, but ideally still allows owners extra versatility in terms of destinations reachable over the family sedan.
The EcoSport, however, tends towards the SUV look, with its spare tyre mounted on the tailgate, 200mm of ground clearance, roof rails and a wading depth of 550mm.
In the six-model line-up, buyers can choose between Ambiente, Trend and Titanium specifications.
In Ambiente spec, the EcoSport has 15-inch steel wheels, side mirrors with a blind spot mirror, manual air conditioning, a cooled glovebox, radio/CD with aux input, power front window controls and “home safe” headlamps.
The Trend gains audio controls on the steering wheel, the SYNC system with Bluetooth, a multi-function display, a 12v power point in the rear and 16-inch alloy wheels.
The bodywork gains body colour door handles and mirrors, black roof rails, silver door handles inside and a sunglass holder in the overhead console.
At the top of the line-up, the three Titanium models have chrome fog lamps and grilles and silver roof rack rails. They are also equipped with rain sensitive windscreen wipers, automatic headlamps, leather seats, steering wheel and gear knob, map lights and cruise control. Air conditioning is electronic, as is the rearview mirror and one-touch front widow controls.
While the Compact/Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV) market is shaping up to be fairly competitive, one unique feature offered by Ford is the award winning 1.0-litre engine. Unsurprisingly, it’s the smallest engine in its class, but the little powerplant has earned Ford the Engine of the Year accolade for the least two years.
The engine has a quarter of the moving parts of a traditional small engine and reportedly needs only 5.7 litres of fuel per 100km on the combined test. It produces 92kW of power and 170Nm of torque.
But Ford is not putting all its eggs in one basket. There are two other engines in the line-up.
A 1.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine produces 82kW of power at 6300 r/min (making the 1.0-litre’s output that much more impressive) and 138Nm of torque at 4400 r/min. Fuel consumption is claimed to be 6.5 litres per 100km. The petrol engine is available in Ambiente and Titanium specification.
For diesel lovers, there’s a 1.5 turbocharged, intercooled TDCi, producing 66kW at 3750 r/min and a more hearty 205Nm of torque between 2000 and 2750 r/min. Fuel consumption for the oilburner is claimed to be a low 4.6 litres per 100km.
Transmission choices are very limited, as all models except the 1.5-litre petrol Titanium have a five-speed gearbox. The other derivative is the only one to feature the PowerShift, six-speed automatic gearbox.
Other features on the two-wheel drive, five-seater crossover include power assisted steering, which has “Pull Drift Compensation” – a system which reportedly helps drivers with tight steering situations such as small parking bays and U-turns.
Inside, a modern dashboard features what Ford calls an “Ice Blue” illumination system, as well as the SYNC voice activated in-car system. The latter, powered by Microsoft, allows drivers to control the entertainment and hands-free telephone system without taking their hands off the wheel.
Standard airbags across the range include driver, front passenger and side airbags, and curtain airbags. ABS is standard on all models, and an electronic stability control system is available (standard only on the Titanium models).
Exotically named colours available at launch include Mars red, Kinetic blue, Moondust silver, Panther black, Sea grey, Chill, Bright yellow and Diamond white.
The EcoSport comes with a four-year/120 000km warranty and a four-year/60 000km service plan, as well as a three-year roadside assistance plan and five-year corrosion warranty.
PRICING AND LINE-UP
EcoSport 1.5 TiVCT Ambiente Manual R199 000
EcoSport 1.0 GTDi Trend Manual R224 000
EcoSport 1.5 TDCi Trend Manual R229 000
EcoSport 1.0 GTDi Titanium Manual R244 000
EcoSport 1.5 TiVCT Titanium Powershift R244 000
EcoSport 1.5 TDCi Titanium Manual R249 000