WHO LOVES YA, BABY?
The all-new EcoSport is practical and roomy but is that enough to warrant a thumbs up from Imran Malik?
Under the ‘One Ford’ global strategy, the all-new EcoSport – originally designed and engineered in Brazil for Brazil since 2003 – is now available all over the world. But should it have stayed put way over there in South America where we can’t see it? On first glance, yes!
This little CUV isn’t very pretty; the wheels are too small and the body too big. Then there’s the little matter of the rear tailgate housing a spare tyre while the front end is missing a bumper. This isn’t a great beginning. But then you start it up and the 1.5-litre four-pot bursts into life. It gets up and going with minimal fuss and though the motor makes just 108bhp, that’s more than enough for this 1,243kg Ford.
It comes with electric powerassisted steering that has a natural feel about it and is light enough to make parking a breeze. It’s also smart enough to vary its assistance based on the speed you are travelling at and as there isn’t a belt-driven power steering pump, it saps less power from the motor and reduces fuel consumption by at least 3 per cent compared to a hydraulic system.
The six-speed powershift automatic shifts just fine too, but do it manually from the buttons on the lever and it takes its sweet time to shift up or down. My advice is to leave it to its own devices.
It sits high up on the road and has a ground clearance of 200mm. Couple that with a decent suspension and it glides over potholes.
The interior looks modern and it doesn’t take more than a minute to familiarise yourself with all the controls and buttons, although the dash is far too heavy on the plastic. There are no soft-touch materials to break it up either – obvious signs of the EcoSport’s low-cost roots. The leather seats aren’t the most supportive; when navigating a corner even at low speeds, you tend to slip and slide around and that sharp piece of the centre console that digs into your right leg is, as you can imagine, far from amusing.
The electric window switches on the driverside door are another nuisance. The ones for the front windows have been positioned too far forward; you end up hitting the switches for the rear windows instead. My other gripe is with the push start button. It’s no bigger than a bottle top, which is fine, but why Ford chose to adorn it with the Blue Oval logo, the word ‘power’, and the signs for start and stop, is a mystery. Finding that button is another mystery as it’s hidden behind the steering wheel – which is also plasticky. The radio isn’t the sharpest and this top-of-the-range Titanium trim doesn’t get a sunroof but once you – or rather I – stop nitpicking, the EcoSport has many plus points.
Visibility is a major plus; there are hardly any blind spots to speak of, while there is plenty of room for those in the back seat, which splits 60:40. The Ford Sync – the voice-activated in-car connectivity system – is also muchimproved and there are 20 practical storage spaces in the cabin. What’s more, its array of airbags (driver, front passenger, side and curtain airbags) provides additional peace of mind.
Nope, looks-wise it isn’t the best but it could grow on you. It has a high rear end and looks like it’s about to pounce. But the body has way too many creases and you may feel the need to give it a quick iron. The slim headlights are decent and the highmounted trapezoidal grille at least gives it the typical Ford family face. The belt line ascends as it runs to the rear, while the back end features oblique taillights. The right side cleverly houses the door handle for the tailgate.
Just when you think it’s getting good, that spare tyre back there ruins it all. Ford says some markets like that rough-and-ready image but it’s just that – an image. The EcoSport is front-wheel drive and doesn’t have any off-road capability. To be fair, placing the spare wheel on the outside saves a bit of boot space, which grows to an impressive 705 litres when you drop the rear bench. But the real problem with the tailgate is that it hinges on the left and swings open, meaning if you were to reverse park in a mall car park, you probably wouldn’t be able to open the door without whacking someone else’s car. Ford’s going global with the EcoSport and I can see why; it’s practical, spacious and entertaining enough to drive. That makes up for the stumpy looks.
I guess you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover after all.
The cabin offers enough space for five adults