With the arrival of the new Ford EcoSport, it confirms my thoughts that there is a definite rise in popularity by many South Africans in all walks of life to switch to SUV and crossover vehicles.
I am also one of the many that have been converted. My family made the switch from a sedan to an SUV, and we have never regretted the move to a more family-orientated outdoor vehicle.
Something to suit the pocket
There are many makes and models out there to choose from, but there is always one that will fit into your budget and meet your minimum requirements at the same time.
The Ford EcoSport is certainly one of those SUV’s that fits in since its arrival in 2013. Fast forward to 2018, we are presented with a revamped and revitalised EcoSport, that I had the privilege of driving in the KZN Midlands, an ideal venue to test the SUV.
This derivative from Ford has sold over 45 000 units since its introduction six years ago. The 2018 version has some 2000 new parts from bumper to bumper, improving the ride and feel of the SUV in every possible manner.
Let’s face it, South Africans are generally particular about the look and feel of their vehicles, which must be relevant. From the outside, the EcoSport has a refined front grille, almost copied from the 2017 Kuga.
It offers bold features and dynamic Ford SUV styling. The front-end design is dominated by a large trapezoidal grille and distinctive angular headlights, incorporating stylish LED daytime running lights on the Trend and range-topping Titanium models.
Image: Ford SA
Buyers will once again have the option to of three trim levels: Ambiente, Trend and Titanium, with notable equipment on the Ambiente being a six-speaker sound system and electric windows.
The trend adds 16" alloys, a hard spare wheel cover, body-coloured door handles and mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear knob, hill assist and Ford MyKey. The EcoSport looks rugged to the extent that it says ‘This is me, go on, drive me”.
All new interior
The Ford EcoSport delivers a new level of interior refinement with easier to use controls and soft-touch materials, along with an entirely new instrument cluster and centre console ergonomically designed for easy operation with fewer buttons.
New seat designs are optimised for greater front and rear occupant comfort, and deliver a more upscale feel, with luxurious full leather on the Titanium derivatives.
The interior features a host of smart stowage solutions, including a new height-adjustable boot floor that can be raised to provide concealed storage, or lowered to increase luggage capacity to 334 litres.
Image: Ford SA
The boot floor uses a special honeycomb construction that makes it gram-for-gram stronger than steel and able to support more than 300 kg. Now, that’s handy for so many reasons.
A new centre console features a built-in folding, sliding armrest (Titanium models) with an integrated storage compartment that is ideal for tablet computers or snacks.
Buyers will also enjoy the practicality of under-seat storage underneath the passenger seat (Titanium models). Power windows are provided all-round, enhancing comfort and convenience for all occupants.
How does it drive?
I put the EcoSport through its paces on open tar road, twisty and pot-holed dirt tracks, up steep inclines and sharp down-hills and it handled admirably well.
At all times and on different terrains, the ride was pleasant. The ride on the dirt tracks at speed was impressive with the vehicle handling well on braking and cornering, considering that I was driving on loose gravel and not once veering off the chosen and dusty path.
Image: Ford SA
The switch from dirt to tar was noticeable in that the vehicle felt predictably less rumbly and smoother. The automatic gearbox will do enough to get you to your destination but will not set your pulses racing.
The SUV market is flooded with new entrants and this is expected to continue.
The EcoSport meanwhile can hold its own, having already established itself firmly within the SA market. Brand conscious buyers will not have to look any further than the newly and vastly improved Ford EcoSport. Certainly gets my vote.
All models come standard with Ford Protect, comprising a four-year or 120 000km comprehensive warranty, three-year or unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year or unlimited km corrosion warranty. A four-year or 60 000km service plan is included, with 15 000km service intervals.