Ford has given its EcoSport compact family car a makeover and the latest model has now arrived in South Africa. Herewith specification and pricing details for the facelifted EcoSport as well as our driving impressions from the international launch which took place in Portugal late last year.
The EcoSport was first introduced in South Africa in 2013 and, despite the fact that the segment it has helped to establish is now far more competitive than 4 years ago (rivals include the Renault Captur, Suzuki Vitara and Hyundai Creta, to name a few), the Ford remains a bestseller with over 45 000 units sold since its introduction.
If you think this facelift is a mere nip and tuck, you’re mistaken: Ford has thoroughly enhanced its baby SUV to capitalise on seemingly inexhaustible global demand for compact SUVs. In fact, this latest EcoSport features more than 2 300 new parts.
Although the EcoSport's styling has always been inoffensive, the more grown-up and overtly-SUV styling cues are welcome.
The first thing you may notice is that the latest iteration of the EcoSport features a new look; we think its exterior execution is bolder and more assertive than the previous iteration.
Ford has incorporated styling cues from its larger Kuga family SUV: the front-end is now dominated by a large trapezoidal grille and flanked by angular headlights with integrated LED daytime running lights. The rear features a revised bumper and tail light clusters.
Buyers have the choice of 7 exterior colours across 3 trim levels including Ambiente, Trend and Titanium. Wheel designs include 5-spoke, 16-inch alloys finished in gunmetal grey on the Trend, while 17-inch alloys are fitted to Titanium derivatives. The entry-level Ambiente derivative wears 16-inch steel wheels with wheel covers. Note that the EcoSport also has a full-size spare wheel attached to the tailgate.
Local versions of the EcoSport feature the characteristic spare-wheel-on-the-tailgate look.
Ford has introduced major improvements to the EcoSport’s interior, which draws inspiration from the all-new Fiesta which was also recently launched in South Africa. The biggest revision is that the plastic-dominated, somewhat clumsy interior of the outgoing EcoSport has been replaced.
To put it plainly: the interior overhaul is a breath of fresh air for the EcoSport. The soft-touch dashboard and newly designed fascia (with far fewer buttons than before) contribute to a cleaner, neater look overall and comfort has been enhanced with newly designed seats which are wrapped in leather if you opt for the Titanium derivatives.
Ford's top-selling compact family car now sports a much more modern interior, replete with a raft of connectivity features.
Perhaps the most significant improvement to the EcoSport’s interior is the inclusion of SYNC3 on Trend and Titanium (with navigation) derivatives, which is accessed via a new 8-inch colour touchscreen mounted on the dashboard (Titanium). A 6.5-inch touchscreen is offered on mid-grade Trend derivatives while a simpler 4.2-inch screen with first-generation SYNC will be offered on base models
The SYNC3 system incorporates pinch and swipe functionality, much like a smartphone and is Bluetooth-enabled, while also being compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Prospective buyers will be happy to know that 2 USB ports are provided.
Features such as cruise control and adjustable speed limiter are offered on Titanium derivatives and all EcoSport models now feature rear parking sensors.
A new 8-inch touchscreen is a highlight and features SYNC3 with navigation, Bluetooth, voice control and Apple CarPlay and AndroidAuto functionality.
Other notable features include a new 4.2-inch instrument cluster (Titanium) and electrically-folding mirrors while active safety features have been beefed up with Electronic Stability Control with traction control, Roll Stability Control, Hill Launch Assist and tyre pressure monitoring. A total of 7 airbags are fitted as standard on Trend and Titanium derivatives while the Ambiente gets 6 airbags, sans a driver's knee airbag.
The luggage bay capacity has also improved with a height-adjustable floor that increases space to 334 litres. The floor is made from recycled material with honeycomb construction that can withstand weight up to 300 kg. With the 60/40 rear seats folded down, space increases to a useful 1 238 litres.
Ford's acclaimed 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine forms the backbone of the EcoSport range. A 1.5-litre turbodiesel is also in the mix.
A total of 2 engines power the EcoSport in South Africa. A 3-cylinder 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol engine with 92 kW/170 Nm of torque is available with a fuel consumption claimed at 5.8 L/100 km. In Trend and Titanium trim, buyers can choose between a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission.
There's also a 1.5-litre turbodiesel engine with peak outputs of 74 kW and 205 Nm on offer with a claimed fuel consumption figure of 4.6 L/100 km. This engine is offered in Ambiente trim and is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission.
What’s it like to drive?
Buyers should be pleased with the performance offered by the EcoSport.
We drove the facelifted EcoSport in Portugal late last year and our launch route started at Lisbon Airport behind the wheel of the SA-bound 92 kW /170 Nm, 1.0-litre Titanium automatic derivative. We found the engine offered just enough grunt for the average commute without feeling underpowered. It’s quite refined with minimal engine noise under normal driving conditions. However, if you mash the throttle pedal to extract more power, it becomes a bit more vocal (but it’s still mostly quite civilised).
The 6-speed automatic transmission seemed to be well matched with this engine and its shifts were relatively smooth and unobtrusive. Manual shift paddles behind the steering wheel allowed for further manipulation of the 3-pot’s performance. The steering is nicely weighted and communicative with good response to inputs.
The engine/transmission combination prefers a measured driving style to achieve the best driving experience; however, we were surprised to see a fuel consumption readout of around 9.9 L/100 km, which was somewhat disappointing considering that we weren’t thrashing the engine. Isn’t the point of a downsized engine to deliver better fuel economy?
We also sampled the new 6-speed manual transmission in the 1.5 EcoBlue diesel ST-Line (not coming to SA) and you will be happy to know that it’s an excellent gearbox with a solid, positive gear action.
The EcoSport delivers a comfortable ride but we found body roll to be pronounced while cornering.
As for the EcoSport’s ride quality, it’s comfortable and quite forgiving. It rides well overall and despite the poorer road surfaces experienced in the countryside on the outskirts of Lisbon, the EcoSport felt composed and managed to take bumps and imperfections in its stride.
Although handling isn’t a critical area for the EcoSport, the Ford still suffers from excessive body roll while cornering. This perception was exacerbated by the lack of side bolstering on the front seats, which left the driver and passenger sliding from side-to-side in the bends.
We also spent some time in the back of the EcoSport and found the aft accommodation sufficiently spacious and comfortable in terms of legroom, headroom and shoulder room.
We came away impressed with the new-look interior of the EcoSport. The cabin appeared to be solidly put together and not once was a squeak or rattle heard. We did, however, notice a fair amount of wind noise around the windows/mirrors at highway speed.
The updated EcoSport seems to be a vastly improved product. Apart from the enhanced exterior styling, the changes to the interior improve Ford’s purchasing proposition appreciably.
This updated EcoSport is bound to resonate well with South African buyers and it may even lure buyers away from other products in this segment. Ford has another winner in this updated EcoSport, see pricing below...
Ford EcoSport - Price in SA
EcoSport 1.5 TDCi Ambiente 5MT - R264 500
EcoSport 1.0 EcoBoost Trend 6MT - R287 500
EcoSport 1.0 EcoBoost Trend 6AT - R300 700
EcoSport 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium 6MT - R327 800
EcoSport 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium 6AT - R339 900
All models come standard with a 4-year/120 000km warranty, 4-year/60 000km service plan, 3-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and 5-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty.
Interested in buying a Ford Ecosport?