Big overhaul for Ford EcoSport
Ford is giving its EcoSport compact crossover a significant overhaul. It first launched in late 2013, was revised once in 2015 and has now come in for another set of changes. So is this EcoSport v1.1.2 finally going to win over the critics?
The front of the EcoSport sees the more noticeable changes going on, as the previously 'double deck' grille arrangement is replaced by a larger, single-framed affair, necessitating a new design of headlights incorporating LED daytime running lamps, and those angular fog lamps pushed out to the edges of the bumper. If you want the inevitable designer spiel here, the front three-quarter view was supposedly inspired by 'the straps of a rucksack and is designed to reflect an adventurous character'. Quite.
The bonnet now also features a central bulge and washer jets that are hidden behind and beneath its trailing edge, while moving round the back we find similarly tweaked light clusters and the bumper beneath, although this is less obvious to spot. There are 12 colours to choose from - with funky names like Lightning Blue, Ruby Red and Tiger Eye (it's an orange, naturally) - and there's the option to have the roof in a contrast colour. New designs of 17- and 18-inch alloy wheels in a variety of finishes are also offered.
Inside, it has a fascia, complete with a nice, big infotainment touchscreen for SYNC 3, that is clearly inspired by the latest Ford Fiesta and this is only a Very Good Thing. The quality of the materials used is supposed to be far higher (and it looks it, just from the photos), while the seats are said to be optimised for greater front and rear occupant comfort. Ambient lighting is now an option and there's a height-adjustable boot floor that can raise cargo capacity to 334 litres overall.
Ford has boosted the kit levels significantly. SYNC 3, as we've mentioned, is now available on the maximum-size eight-inch touchscreen, although there's also a 6.5-inch item and then a 4.2-inch colour screen for more basic models without SYNC. The B&O Play ten-speaker sound system, also seen on the new Fiesta, is ported over as an option for the EcoSport, while further tech additions include cruise control with an adjustable speed limiter, a rear-view camera, auto lights and wipers, a heated steering wheel, Electronic Automatic Temperature Control (Ford's name for dual-zone climate control), a 4.2-inch digital instrument cluster and power-folding, heated door mirrors. Ford has also upped the safety quotient by adding Blind Spot Information System and Roll Stability Control to the roster, as well as more airbags in the cabin (side and curtain bags being the newcomers).
Although it looked rugged and high-riding, up until this point the EcoSport has been purely front-wheel drive. Now, though, there's Ford's Intelligent All-Wheel Drive technology, offered solely with a six-speed manual gearbox and the all-new 1.5-litre Ford EcoBlue diesel engine with 125hp and 300Nm - and you'll never guess where else we've seen this engine... that's right, in the latest Fiesta diesel(albeit slightly more powerful in the EcoSport). Thus equipped, Ford's baby SUV will use 4.5 litres/100km (62.8mpg) and emit 119g/km of CO2 emissions.
Other motors on offer will be the same engine with either 100- or 125hp, either of which are front-wheel drive with the six-speed manual, while the 1.0-litre, three-cylinder EcoBoost petrol is the alternative if you don't need diesel. Choose from 100-, 125- or 140hp with a six-speed manual gearbox, or just the 125hp if you need an auto, a six-speed unit with paddle shifts on the steering column.
Ford maintains that the EcoSport's ride and handling is tuned specifically for customers in Europe, with optimised springs, dampers, spring aids, steering gear, rear axle twist beam, Electronic Stability Programme settings and steering assistance profiles accordingly adjusted.
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