• The Ford EcoSport is one of the local automaker's top-selling passenger cars.
• The EcoSport Black was launched earlier in April and has a more sportier appeal.
• It's priced at R336 900.
• For motoring news, go to Wheels24.
I don't know if all toddlers are like this, but whenever we go anywhere, be it a half-an-hour drive away or a two-hour trip, my child will pack a backpack of things to take along - in case she gets bored. These days, it's always a book, and some drawing pencils, and a few "kitchen toys".
This has been coming along since she was about two years old. We'd often have to stop her from packing the house, including the kitchen sink: books to read, books to draw in, pens and pencils, her three teddies who went everywhere with her, and their clothes, etc. You get the picture. So imagine what our luggage looks like when we're planning a weekend away. She usually packs her own suitcase about two weeks before our trip. She'll want to know what the weather will be like, and pack clothes if it's hot and cold anyway. Then, of course, her bags to keep herself busy.
We were heading for a weekend away, and the test car for the trip was Ford's popular EcoSport Black compact SUV. I was very nervous because my first thought was there's just not going to be enough space. For some reason, my memory bank had told me the EcoSport is tiny; the boot is ridiculously small, and the legroom is non-existent from the last time I had driven one.
However, if there's one thing my mother has taught me, it's how to pack a car. So, I decided not to worry too much. But, it turns out I had nothing to be concerned about.
The Ford EcoSport Black was added to the automaker's line-up earlier in April this year, and the new model was going to be our chariot for the weekend up to the West Coast.
So what's new on this version?
Well, it's based on their Ambiente model, and it's powered by 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox. So already, there's no extra power, or space I tell myself.
However, there are a host of aesthetic changes, giving the popular little compact SUV some extra street cred with several dark-hued feature enhancements to give it a more distinctive and sporty appeal.
When the fiery red, or rather Canyon Ridge, little number pulled up into our Wheels24 test garage, it sure turned heads from the moment it arrived. Other bold body colours include Diamond White, Moondust Silver, Smoke, and Blue Lightning.
In terms of looks, the front grille and skid plate are now finished in black, and this continues on the bonnet, too, with a distinctive black decal insert on the upper section of the bonnet that matches the painted roof. This model also has standard black roof rails, making the car even more practical if you need more space to get some larger items tied up on top.
Instead of the 15" steelies, there are stylish 16-inch black alloy wheels. There's also some more black side decals and mirror caps, and at the rear of the car, there's also a black spare wheel cover for the full-sized tyre as standard. I've always liked the EcoSport's tailgate opening sideways; makes it feel like a proper SUV too.
With 333-litres of boot space, there was more than enough space for all our bags, yes even the toddler's three items of luggage, along with her scooter, a big cooler box and some groceries - and room for a spree at Charlie's Fish Shop on the way home.
There's more than enough legroom, too, for a child and all her teddies that accompany us on any trips or a tall adult.
The 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine is more than capable of a long cruise to the Coast; it's mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and delivers 91kW and 151Nm. So overtaking is a easy too when needed, with sufficient power to give some grunt when you the throttle needs to be pushed harder.
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I was quite surprised at the fuel consumption, and not in a good way. Ford claims an average fuel reading of 6.9-litres/100km in a combined cycle, but we managed to achieve 9.1-litres/100km on our trip and 8.9 -litres/100km while cruising at 120km/h and using the aircon on the national road. It has a 52-litre fuel capacity, so we used about half a tank to reach our destination 260km away from home; I was expecting its economy to be just a bit better. Yes driving styles matter, but even so with conservative driving, it was not favourable.
There are also loads of standard features which have become a must in the checklist, items such as Isofix child seat fittings, child door locks, and six airbags, to name a few.
Our little getaway was at the famous Club Mykonos in Langebaan, and since it wasn't quite school holidays just yet, we had missed the holiday rush to the favourite destination. This means we could explore in our car quite a bit, including climbing the embankments at the resident amusement park at the resort. The Ecosport has a ground clearance of 206mm so climbing a bit of elevated ground was no fuss. It also has a turning circle of 5.3m, so manoeuvering the car and getting in and out of tight parking spaces is easy too.
Starting price for the EcoSport range is from R303 900, while the EcoSport Black sells for R336 900. It comes standard with Ford Protect, includes 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.
It's easy to see why Ford sells so many of these cars in a month, most times over 300 units. However, with Ford HQ announcing it will no longer be building vehicles in India, it remains to be seen what will happen to the EcoSport's future here in South Africa or if it too will be discontinued.