Selected motoring journalists from sub-Sahara Africa including BusinessDay were in Johannesburg, South Africa last week to cover the launch of the all-new 1.6-litre Ford EcoSport, described by the American automaker as a compact sport utility vehicle (SUV).
The event which kicked off in a business-like manner from the Sun Square Montecasino Hotel was the historic ‘Ride and Drive’ exercise involving journalists from the West African market within the sub-Sahara African market.
Though modestly compact in outlook, the new Ford EcoSport confronted both on-and-offroad challenges effortlessly throughout the daylong exercise that landed us into a wild-life animal park..
Ford EcoSport now in Nigeria, is bringing with it a stylish and dynamic small SUV to a new generation of customers especially singles less than 30 years old and aspiring corporates in the early stage of career pursuits; city dwellers who embraces youthfulness, yet want to be taken seriously.
It is for car freaks whose days and nights are built around his social circle, noticeable at “cool” places; but on his own terms, one whose self-image is projected through brand choices; craves in doing things on and offline, and perceived as someone fully engaged in life.
EcoSport combines the agility, affordability and fuel efficiency of a compact car with the versatility and spaciousness of an SUV. Based on Ford’s global B-segment platform, the EcoSport is a stylish choice with enough space for five adults. Its blend of practicality and smart connectivity will attract young, adventurous customers who not only live life to the fullest but also love exploring the world at large.
The high driving position, rugged capability, impressive fuel economy, easy manoeuvrability, and convenient features make it the right vehicle for both city streets and adventurous pursuits. The well-rounded car is just as comfortable wading through flooded areas as it is entertaining the driver through hands-free phone calls and music selection.
With quality factor that speaks to the senses and its signature Ford face, dramatic rising belt-line and ready-to-pounce stance, EcoSport conveys a dynamic spirit of energy in action. The spare tyre, with an exclusively designed wheel, is mounted on the tailgate as a classic SUV cue.
Inside, soft-touch fabrics and the global Ice Blue dashboard illumination all convey a feeling of superior quality and craftsmanship. Controls and knobs are ergonomically placed while seats are designed to be soft enough for comfort and firm enough for longer journeys.
Meticulous efforts to reduce noise, vibration and harshness ensure a quite cabin. Add to this is a very effective climate control system, and the customer will be very comfortable in the EcoSport. The compact sub-four metre dimensions and the electric power-assisted steering with pull-drift compensation (PDC) help drivers tackle the stress of city driving, be it parking in small spaces, manoeuvring in heavy traffic, or making tight U-turns.
The EcoSport’s high ground clearance of 200 millimetres also means customers won’t have to worry about driving over speed bumps and potholes. And with its exceptional ability to wade through 550 millimetres of water, drivers can confidently drive through large pools of water.
Talking about clever capability, the EcoSport makes driving fun and intuitive with an array of smart features. The urban SUV offers Ford SYNC, the voice-activated in-car connectivity system powered by Microsoft. The award-winning system allows drivers to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel while choosing their favourite music and making phone calls using voice commands.
On safety and driver assistance, EcoSport has been designed to provide high levels of protection and driver support through a range of advanced features. About half of the body structure is made up of high-strength steel and ultra-high-strength steel, such as boron steel, making the frame especially strong yet lightweight too.
Its array of airbags, including airbags for the driver and front passenger, as well as side airbags and curtain airbags, provides additional peace of mind. To take the stress out of driving, EcoSport comes with an array of driver-assist systems.
Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) is available on all models and helps prevent the wheels from locking up and helps the vehicle to stop quickly on slippery road surfaces. Other advanced safety technologies such as Hill Launch Assist and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) are available on all PowerShift models.
ESC helps customers remain in control at all times, especially on slippery roads. When it detects that the car is potentially losing control, it automatically reduces engine power and selectively brakes individual wheels to stabilise the vehicle and keep it travelling on track.
Giving customers the power of choice, the EcoSport are available with two engine options, and two transmission variants. With more choices for fuel-efficient power, it will be available with the global 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. This delivers peak power of 82kW at 6,300 rpm and peak torque of 138 Nm at 4,400 rpm and uses an average of 6.5-litre/100km on a combined cycle.
For customers who prefer diesel, the 1.5-litre TDCi intercooled and turbocharged diesel engine fits the bill perfectly. With power rated at 66kW at 3,750 rpm, the engine also delivers an outstanding 205 Nm of torque from 2,000 rpm to 2,750 rpm.
The result is strong acceleration from standstill together with the flexibility that can reduce the need for gearshifts. Fuel efficiency is a standout feature with a combined cycle figure of just 4.6-liter /100km ensuring the SUV is kind on the pocket.
EcoSport comes in 5-speed manual transmission or Ford’s 6-speed powershift transmission. The advanced 6-speed powershift transmission combines efficiency, optimised gear ratios and responsive performance of a traditional manual transmission with the smoothness, convenience and ease-of-use of a conventional automatic. Low-friction dry clutches are employed, combined with six well-spaced gears to provide responsive acceleration from rest, smooth transitions between gears and optimised fuel economy when cruising.
The cabin also has 20 practical storage spaces including foldable rear seats for additional cargo space. With rear seats tumbled against the front seats, boot space increases to 705 litres, alternatively the rear seats can be split 60:40 to transport long objects such as flat-pack furniture while still carrying passengers at the back. It is available with a 3-year/60 000 km warranty. Service intervals are staggered at 20,000km intervals for petrol and 15,000km for diesel versions.