Ford South Africa has declared details and prices of its upgraded EcoSport, which hits local showrooms this week.
The subcompact SUV will be sold in a range of five variants, with four of them powered by a 1-litre EcoBoost petrol turbo engine and the other by a 1.5-litre turbo diesel. The 1.5 normally aspirated petrol model has been dropped.
The 1.0T petrol models are available in the medium Trend and top-of-the-range Titanium trim grades, while the sole diesel model gets the entry-level Ambiente specification.
Ford has sold more than 45 000 second-generation EcoSport models in South Africa since it was launched in 2013, and the vehicle has been a major player in the compact adventure-vehicle segment against rivals like the Renault Captur, Mazda CX-3 and Peugeot 2008.
The 2018 model sees big improvements in style, technology, and interior updates.
The outside features a much bolder look with the designers having taken a leaf out of the new Kuga’s design. The front end now sports the same shaped grille with angular headlights (and integrated LED daytime running lights for the upper versions), giving it a beefier look. The back has a new bumper and tail light clusters.
A new level of interior refinement includes easier to use controls and classy soft-touch materials, along with an entirely new instrument cluster and centre console ergonomically designed for easy operation with fewer buttons.
Ford’s sophisticated Sync3 communications and entertainment system is fitted as standard on the Trend and Titanium models, and incorporates Bluetooth and Voice Control.
Sync3 is supported by a new floating colour touchscreen which can be operated with pinch and swipe gestures. A 16.5cm screen is fitted on the Trend models, while the Titanium features a 20.3cm version with navigation.
The petrol line up is powered by the three-cylinder 998cc Ecoboost turbo that has won the sub 1.0-litre category in the International Engine of the Year awards for the last six years. It produces a sprightly 92kW of power with a peak torque of 170Nm between 1400 and 4500rpm.
The petrol models are available in a choice of six-speed manual or the latest-generation six-speed torque converter automatic that recently made its debut on the all-new Ford Fiesta. Fuel consumption on the combined town/freeway cycle is claimed at 6.8 litres per 100km for the manual and 8.3 litres for the auto.
The diesel-powered Ambiente has a five-speed manual gearbox. The four-cylinder oil burner produces outputs of 74kW and 205Nm of torque between 1 750 and 3 250 rpm, and is claimed to sip just 5.3 litres per 100km.
All variants are front-wheel driven but have some respectable gravel road ability due to a generous 206mm ground clearance.
Under the skin there have also been tweaks to the EcoSport to reduce noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels in the cabin, complemented by new suspension bushes and tyres that enhance refinement and comfort.
At the most affordable end of the range, the EcoSport Ambiente is equipped with Ford’s previous-generation (non touchscreen) SYNC system with Bluetooth and Voice Control, as well as steering wheel audio controls.
Active driving safety has been stepped up markedly across the range with standard fitment of Electronic Stability Control (ESC). Also standard are ABS brakes, a rear parking sensor, and six airbags.
Aircon, a trip computer, electric windows, central locking, 16” steel wheels and cloth seats complete the Ambiente package.
The Trend spec adds 16” alloy wheels, Roll Stability Control (RSC), Hill Launch Assist (HLA) that makes pulling off on steep inclines easier, along with tyre pressure monitoring. Also added is a driver’s knee airbag, leather gearknob and steering wheel, and LED daytime running lights.
The range-topping Titanium gains 17” alloys, cruise control with adjustable speed limiter, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, keyless start, climate control, auto-dimming rear view mirror, leather seats, ambient interior lighting, and auto headlamps.The Titanium also features a new digital instrument cluster that makes key driving information easier to access.
The upgrades have seen some not-too-drastic price increases, with the pre-facelift range priced between R257 900 and R318 900, and the latest line up selling from R264 500 to R339 900.