The rise of the machines continues unabated in the light car class. Craig Duff puts the Fiesta-founded Ford EcoSport and Barina-based Holden Trax SUVs into battle.
VALUE The MyLink infotainment system includes the Bringo satnav app. It’s $70 to download and owners will need a decent data allowance on their mobile phone plans. Heated seats and a 240-volt power socket are smart convenience additions. DESIGN A bulbous front doesn’t mesh with the otherwise solid styling. The interior is a step up from the Ford in terms of fit and finish and the absence of buttons — courtesy of the seven-inch touchscreen — makes the centre console
far less cluttered. TECHNOLOGY The 1.8-litre engine (103kW/175Nm), venerable to say the least, is mated to a sixspeed auto. The on-paper performance edge is dulled by extra weight and the Trax is about a litre thirstier than Ford’s 1.5-litre over 100km. Local suspension tuning gives it decent roadholding. SAFETY With five stars, the Trax edges the Ford in every assessment area. It comes with six airbags and reversing camera. In common with the EcoSport, it has rear drum brakes but owners won’t notice in everyday driving.
DRIVING The Fiesta drives better than the Barina and that translates to their high-riding counterparts. The Trax is still more than competent with good front-end grip and general compliance. A softer suspension tune gives it an edge in comfort at the expense of more body roll through the turns. The engine starts to thrash at higher revs — the car could easily cope with the Cruze stablemate’s turbo 1.6.