Since 2013, the Ford EcoSport has consistently been one of the top-sellers in its segment. While its tonka-toy look went down well with buyers, it always felt a little cheap compared to the competition – with a bland, plasticky, button-festooned interior.
However, there’s no denying that at its core the EcoSport has always been a good car. With this recent facelift, Ford has finally given it the looks and perceived quality it’s always deserved.
What can I expect from the EcoSport?
It’s immediately apparent the model tested here is the range-topping 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium. Strong features such as the wide hexagonal grille, large light clusters and chiselled bonnet lines define the façade of the new car. Attractive Titanium-spec 17-inch alloy wheels, silver roof rails and LED daytime running lights fulfil the new image – the EcoSport now fitting in perfectly with the rest of the Ford SUV range, such as the Kuga and Edge (which we do not get in South Africa).
Hopping aboard, drivers of the pre-facelift EcoSport will think they are in a completely different car, such is the transformation. More modern and imparting an upmarket feel to the cab, the new dashboard features soft-touch materials, classy piano-black accents and far greater ergonomics than before. This is mainly due to the inclusion of the Sync3 infotainment system (but more on that later).
The seats – full leather with contrasting stitching on Titanium models – are comfortable while front occupant space is good. Those in the rear may find it a little tight but, considering many buyers could be singles or small families with young children, this shouldn’t be much of an issue. Speaking of which, Isofix child-seat mountings are fitted as standard.
Interior stowage space is good and the boot features a nifty double floor – allowing one to hide smaller items or increase packing space. Ford claims 333 l. Its worth noting here that the side-hinged rear door can be a bit of a challenge in tight parking sports where there is not much space behind the car. It is, however, very light to swing open and closed.
Is it loaded with lots of safety features and other nice toys?
The Sync3 system fitted to Titanium models is the large eight-inch version, which includes navigation and seven speakers. It is a real joy to use, quick to respond with sharp graphics and a logical interface.
For added convenience, Ford has added auto wipers and headlights; electronic climate control, a colour driver information screen, keyless start (though not access), and cruise control with a speed limiter.
Safety systems include seven airbags, ABS braking with electronic brake assist (EBA), electronic stability control (ESC), hill launch assistance and roll stability control.
What’s it like from behind the wheel?
The EcoSport once again proves the merits of Ford’s one-litre, three-cylinder EcoBoost engine. This is easily still one of the best “triples” available today, being strong, responsive and smooth in its power delivery. In this application it sends 92 kW and 170 Nm to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.
The transmission itself exhibited the odd low-speed jerkiness and could be quicker to respond to kickdown and to the manual paddle-shifters – more eco, less sport…
Ford claims this drivetrain combination should return combined fuel consumption of 6,3 l/100 km. during my week with the car I averaged 9,3.
Out on the road the EcoSport rides with a mild firmness but comfort levels are nothing to complain about. It offers good levels of grip and stability, while visibility is good too.
Should I buy one, or look around?
There’s no doubt that Ford’s facelift of the EcoSport has been an unadulterated success. At R346 900 it’s also priced right in the thick of the competition from the likes of Renault, Mazda, Peugeot and Haval.
However, with its smart new looks and vastly improved interior, it feels refreshed and ready to march on as one of the market leaders.
The EcoSport is covered by a four-year/120 000 km warranty, three-years roadside assistance and a four-year/60 000 km service plan.
CyberStoep rating: 7,5/10