Ford’s EcoBoost engine is making waves and winning awards, but we drove the less-hyped 1,5 diesel version of the new EcoSport CUV to find out whether it’s as an attractive budget option as the manufacturers claim it to be. We weren’t disappointed.
Text: Anzet du Plessis
“I won’t buy anything smaller than a two litre.”
“Milk and fruit juice come in two litres.” Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Someone you know is in the market for a new vehicle – something inexpensive but durable, light on fuel but powerful and easy to manoeuvre, yet spacious inside. It must be a capable vehicle off-road but dynamic to drive on the open road. He (or she) wants what is seemingly impossible – the perfect vehicle.
But that’s not all. The potential buyer also won’t consider driving anything with an engine smaller than 1998cc.
Suggesting new vehicle purchases has become a tricky business. While manufacturers’ investment in research and development has yielded fantastic results from smaller, more fuel-efficient engines, public opinion is difficult to sway. Explain the power figures and torque curves all you like, some people just cannot make the jump from naturally aspirated, bulky engines to the turbocharged and technologically advanced engines the automotive industry is putting out.
Ford may be the company that changes all that. Other manufacturers have certainly been at the forefront of small engine development, but none has been so elegantly packaged as the award-winning EcoBoost engine in Ford’s latest range, which now includes the EcoSport.
While the one-litre engine may be stealing the show, there’s a lot to be said for the 1,5 litre turbocharged diesel engine that Leisure Wheels had on test.
You would be forgiven for thinking that the EcoSport 1,5 TDCi was bound to be lazy – 66kW does not look much on paper. With peak power at 3750 r/min, however, this small turbocharged engine really surprised us. Not only is it very willing in low gears – the power is readily available all through the range to fourth gear, with only fifth being a true overdrive ratio.
The hearty 205Nm of torque peaks at 2000 to 2700 r/min, accounting for the vehicle’s willingness to get off the line, and the gusto with which it attacks a sandy road.
At first we were disappointed that the AWD version, which makes up only 8% of the Brazilian market, wouldn’t be coming to SA. With great handling and power and torque peaking early for a road-going vehicle, the EcoSport promises to go far further than one would expect from a 4×2 crossover. It has 200mm in ground clearance – more than some compact SUVs – so this is not a crossover to ignore when you’re on a budget, shopping for a new all-rounder.
It’s also far more spacious than one would expect from a crossover. The interior, while basic, has all the modern essentials and road-trip comfort levels.
Simple additions such as the satellite audio controls, Bluetooth hands-free system (SYNC), an extra 12V socket at the back and air conditioning, tick all the value-for-money boxes. And the interior finishes in the Trend model – the same layout as the Fiesta – aren’t bad for the price, either.
The dimensions of the EcoSport, at 4010mm x 1765mm, make it easy to park in small city bays, although the swivel tailgate makes alley docking a bit pointless if you’re intent on using the load bay. And you will be using the load bay – 362 litres may not seem much more than a Mini, but the orientation and especially the size of the boot opening make it a versatile space. (It increases to just over 700 litres with the seats down.)
Ford has taken the simplest elements in its palette and combined them with a basic but comfortable and clever interior, and just enough kit to get you over a dune or two. The result is a very attractive package for an equally attractive price.
The Trend retails at R229 000, and Titanium specification at R249 000.