The all-new Ford EcoSport marks the first time we’ve seen this plucky little go-anywhere compact crossover SUV on our shores. First introduced here in August last year, the EcoSport was offered in two trim levels, namely the Trend and Titanium. We sampled the top trim Titanium model which retails for RM100,800 with GST, but excludes insurance.
On first impressions, the EcoSport, adorned in a bright lick of paint called Mars Red does look very similar to the one splashed on the Ranger Wildtrak. Some hails it as a bold and fearless form of self expression, which is quite the impression this crossover gives you, really.
|Name||Ford EcoSport 1.5L Trend||Ford EcoSport 1.5L Titanium|
1,498cc; inline-4 cylinder with Ti-VCT
6-speed dual clutch Powershift auto
108 hp @ 6,300 rpm
142 Nm @ 4,400 rpm
|Price (OTR without insurance, with GST)||RM90,100||RM100,800|
It has become the norm for car manufacturers to base or borrow styling cues from its bigger and more popular models. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class for example, provided some sort of a template for the W205 C-Class in terms of overall looks. In this case, the styling cue was lent from a bigger relative, the new Mondeo. The recently penned Mondeo is indeed a handsome D-Segment barnstormer that has set the precedence for how the EcoSport and perhaps future Ford models may look like.
The EcoSport’s headlights come with a ridiculously dim LED Daytime Running Lights, and its signal indicators are neatly arranged in a sleek thin housing. The chrome tipped fog lamps are up to the job of illuminating the way forward in low incandescent evening lighting. The same can be said of the headlights too with optimum road coverage and are at the proper height.
Around the side, the EcoSport sits on 205/60 R16 Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max tyres with 16-inch multi spoke alloy wheels. The tyres fitted with the car were of the eco variety, which essentially means that the tyres generate less resistance against the road and helps improve fuel economy. The chunky wing mirrors with an integrated signal indicator makes for easy spotting on the roads.
The rear end has been designed with practicality and convenience close at mind, with the rather stocky tailgate swinging out to the left and can be easily opened by a handy push button. The reason for having the spare tyre mounted in a shell on the outside is to increase vital boot space for further practicality. The facelift model loses out on this feature, so to each their own.
Here, the word ergonomics springs immediately to mind. The cabin is a modern and comfortable place to be in, with lashings of leather enveloping the seats, steering wheel and various trim pieces. The contrast stitching on the other hand, does give the upholstery a slightly sporty edge. The dash is covered in Squareflec plastic first seen in the Fiesta and is meant to mimic the cellular structure of plants that gives out an eco-friendly vibe.
Like the Fiesta, the EcoSport comes with a centre dash with more buttons than the Lunar Module. However, getting used to it took us no more than a few hours, after which it became rather intuitive. It supports Bluetooth connectivity, AUX and USB ports, and an MP3 CD player. Besides that, it also has a pretty trick voice recognition system called the SYNC which allows you to make, dial and end calls, control your music and can even read your text messages out loud. All the said functionalities can be controlled via the buttons on the multi-function steering wheel.
Seating five isn’t a problem at all and long distance travel is a doddle with comfy seats and good lumbar support. But more importantly, the EcoSport has good seating position. Wide side windows and a sunroof with a retractable shade provides good light and an airy, spacious vibe to the interior. The EcoSport comes with cup holders and storage space all over, especially the centre console. Speaking of which, the glove box can be used as a chilled box to keep your soda cans cool.
With everyone seated well, the only thing that’s left is entertainment. This is where the EcoSport’s party piece is – the absolutely banging stereo. This six-speaker configuration is also found in the Fiesta, delivers crisp-clear sounds and a thumping bass to go with it. The stereo can be worked via the AUX port, USB slot or Bluetooth. It even supports Spotify! The AM/FM radio comes with Radio Detection System that’s displayed on a dot matrix screen. Simple yet effective.
Tasked with powering this nimble suburban runabout is a 1.5-litre Ti-VCT (twin independent variable cam shaft timing) multi point injection inline four cylinder engine that produces 108 hp at 6,300 rpm and 142 Nm of force driving the front wheels. Yup, it’s not a four-wheel drive.
This 1.5-litre mill is a little coarse upon cold starts, but that’s just the engine trying to quickly get the temperature up to its operational state. Once sufficiently warmed up, the engine is surprisingly smooth, especially so with high-rev down shifts. The engine remains smooth, in control and undramatic.
Driving it is up to the job of a six-speed (dry type) dual clutch PowerShift unit. However, this gearbox is rather juddery when crawling in and out of city congestions – a typical dual clutch characteristic. It’s a little bit less refined compared to other dual clutch boxes, and does require a bit of getting used to, especially the delay on power delivery. That said, we find that the EcoSport could use a little bit more power, but the lack of it isn’t overwhelming by any standards, so it remains quite a livable unit.
The EcoSport was drafted for a short drive to the Sepang Gold Coast beach. Instead of taking the short route, we took the longer, more scenic route which gave us a feel of the many different aspects of how the car drove and handled. Along the trunk and coastal roads of Kuala Selangor, it kept up well with traffic and was able to execute overtaking manoeuvres without much of a fuss.
The brakes bit well and brought us to a halt rather convincingly, thanks in part to the EBD and EBA (Emergency Brake Assist) systems. Being a Ford, it naturally excelled in the handling department and surprised us by not giving much body roll, considering the vehicle’s height. The speed variable Electronic Power Assisted Steering makes parking rather effortless, yet provides a satisfying weight as the speedo-needle climbs northward. Ford claims that this EPAS system saves up to three percent of fuel, but there’s simply no way for us to put that to the test.
The suspension also packed a bag of surprises here, keeping ride quality very much in check. On B-roads, the suspension confidently absorbs road undulations and bumps, whereas on smoother roads, it kept its composure by not being excessively rigid. It’s not quite a soft-sprung crossover, but for what it’s worth, it can provide unsuspecting levels of comfort, given its dynamics.
IS THIS CAR FOR YOU?
The Ford EcoSport was targeted towards outgoing suburban drivers, those of the more adventurous kind yet run daily errands like doing the school run and grocery shopping. Its easy, stylish and ergonomic layout makes it the ideal crossover for the job. For practicality’s sake, you get up to 705 litres of luggage capacity with the rear seats folded down!
That’s not all, because in our opinion, the EcoSport is a great little city car that’s up to any job thrown at it. It’s also fitted with seven airbags (two in the Trend trim), Isofix fixtures and the Park Pilot system which helps out in reverse parking.
With an on-the-road price of RM100,800, it squares directly against the formidable likes of the Honda HR-V and the pricier Peugeot 2008. The popular Honda is priced from RM96k (without insurance), and the French crossover at RM119,888.
|Ford EcoSport||Honda HR-V||Peugeot 2008|
|Type||Inline 4-cylinder||Inline 4-cylinder||Inline 4-cylinder|
|Type||Electric power-steering||Electric power-steering||Electric power-steering|
|Transmission||6-speed dual clutch auto||CVT||4-speed auto|
|Type||Front/Rear||MacPherson strut/Torsion Beam||MacPherson strut/Torsion Beam||MacPherson strut/Torsion Beam|
|Front||Ventilated disc||Ventilated disc||Ventilated disc|
|Rear||Drum||Solid disc||Solid disc|
|TYRE & WHEELS|
|Tyres||205/60 R16||215/60 R16||195/60 R16|
|DIMENSIONS & WEIGHTS|
|Luggage Capacity (VDA)||L||362||437||360|
|Tank Capacity||52 litres||50 litres||50 litres|
|0 – 100km/h||sec||N/A||N/A||11.2|
WILL I BUY IT?
The EcoSport does a fine job when it comes to running around, doing the groceries and picking the kids up from school. My dearest mother would attest to that. It’s got an excellent, thumping sound system that any audiophile can appreciate. It’s also good on fuel and looks decently sharp. However, throughout my time with the EcoSport, the thought that’s always creeping back up was, I wished it had more power. If only it came with the highly acclaimed 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost engine…