• Ford's Everest Sport SUV is being showcased with a journey along the famed Garden Route.
• The turbocharged 2.0-litre engine delivers 132kW and 420Nm, using a 10-speed automatic transmission.
• Standard items include 20" wheels, LED headlights with daytime running lights, front and rear parking sensors with a rear-view camera.
• For more motoring stories, visit Wheels24.
Leaving sunny and bright Cape Town for the cold and wet George was the equivalent of having just finished your work for the day, and then your boss telling you to sort something out at the last minute.
That right there is the near-ideal encapsulation of a blue Monday, and even though the weather was less than ideal, it was the star of the show that viscerated any long-lasting gloomy moods about Mother Nature.
Right off the bat, the Everest Sport is a commanding presence with its black mesh grille and unique 3D bonnet badge by far the most imposing feature from the front. Immediately noticeable is the elimination of the chrome-finished mirror caps and door handles found on the XLT as it is coated in black. Other darkened bits include the roof rails and rear front bumper chin. On an SUV as commanding as the Sport, it's minor tweaks that make it a different proposition.
The peak of Everest
South Africa's Garden Route boasts some of the most beautiful flora and long stretches of enticing open road just ready to be swallowed up. What better way than to let its turbocharged 2.0-litre turbodiesel unit and 10-speed automatic transmission do the hard yards.
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Before you press the keyless start button to get going, you already feel some type of way about the vast amount of premium touches is on offer. The blue-stitched leather seats emblazoned with the 'Sport' logo, soft-touch leather-clad dashboard, and 8-inch touchscreen serve as canapés to the main course on offer as standard inventory.
You can immediately feel the height and road difference that the beefier 20-inch wheels have on the overall responsiveness of the chassis. The seven-seater reacts nimbly to where the steering wheel is pointed and where power is needed, it's 132kW, and 420Nm is like a Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock tag team - unbeatable. SUVs, in general, tend to handle heavier because of their larger shell but none of that here.
Ford claims fuel consumption of 7.6-litres/100km, but a fair figure is around the 8.2-litre mark, which was influenced by elevating surfaces and blasting the aircon for most of the journey. Expect that figure to drop a fair bit where everyday driving is concerned.
The finishes on the centre console are what you'd expect of a premium model such as this. For a starting price of R662 800, some of its standard items include LED headlights with daytime running lights, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors with rear camera. The list does not end there, though - ESP with traction control, Trailer Sway Control, Hill Launch Assist and Roll Over Mitigation, in addition to the presence of seven airbags also form part of the package.
Besides people having to look at the 'Sport' decals on the bottom rear of the doors to know what it is, this model's sheer road presence lets you know it's not an average run-of-the-mill offering.
So much premium
As our destination drew closer, the weather took a turn for the worst, with foggy conditions descending on the winding roads, limiting visibility to a large extent. While the weather conditions were subject to change, the dual-zone electronic automatic temperature control is a real gem, enabling both the driver and passenger to adjust their own levels of heat or coolness. There is also a rear aircon and heater with rear console control for the other five passengers.
It comes in a range of six metallic body colours - Diffused Silver, Frozen White, Agate Black, Moondust Silver, Sea Grey and Copper Red - which accentuates the black detailing.
Even though it is based on the original Everest XLT, Ford has refined what already works and turned it into something even better. It's biggest challenge would be to improve on an already-winning formula, but it all comes together in the Sport model.
Ford Motor Company SA hosted local motoring media at La Plume Boutique Guesthouse, situated in Oudtshoorn, roughly 100km from the airport, for the launch of the new Everest Sport.