New-car buyers will shape the evolution of the Ford EcoSport, with the Blue Oval determined to seek out and react to the market’s wants and needs from its all-new sub-compact SUV.
As the manufacturer’s first global foray into the baby crossover market, Ford admits it is unsure exactly which direction the market will take it.
Ford Asia Pacific passenger vehicle and SUV programs director Trevor Worthington told CarAdvice the car maker had ideas for new EcoSport variants and themes but would ultimately be led by calls from customers and prospective buyers.
“We already have a cycle plan for what we are going to do, but that cycle plan needs to have to flexibility,” Worthington said.
“If we say, ‘we didn’t get this right’ or ‘there’s an opportunity we didn’t realise’, because when there isn’t a segment that you’re going into and you’re kind of creating the segment, anything can happen.
“It’s going to come down to what the customer wants. If the customer six months after job one says, ‘I like it, but wouldn’t it be great if it had…’ and there was enough of that that rolled up in a market or region … it’s our job to look at all of those and filter them according to the things we really want to do.
“Whether it be special value packs, a sports variant with a sportier-tuned suspension and bigger wheels, all of that stuff is really going to be down to the marketing organisations to assess.”
Despite talk of a more performance-oriented EcoSport, Worthington said such a variant was not at the top of the car maker’s to-do list.
“This urban customer isn’t going to take it to the drag strip on Saturday night,” he said.
“They want adequate performance, and I think the car that you’ve driven … it’s got really good performance, it’s got a really sporty tone.
“Would that lend itself to some kind of a package? It will be our marketing people that tell us that. As I sit here right now I wouldn’t have though that was a big priority, but never say never.”
Worthington admitted a focus of the EcoSport’s ‘mid-cycle action’ (MCA) – due in approximately 2016 – would be to boost the list of standard and available technology features.
“The one thing we’ve harped on about is technology that benefits the punter, there’s got to be more technology that isn’t going to confuse them but is going to help them.
“Clearly if you do an MCA it’s got to look different. Mostly it will be about features and technologies, and we’ve got to make sure that we don’t do things that take it out of the price range of the punter that we’re going after.
“All of the features you’ve just mentioned [rear-view camera, adaptive cruise control], lane keep, all of those features are potentially deployable. It just really comes down to is that what the customer wants at the right price point.”
The Ford EcoSport will launch in Australia in December in three trim levels – Ambiente, Trend and Titanium. The base model will start in the low-$20,000s and come standard with Ford’s Sync connectivity system and seven airbags, among other features.
While other vehicles in the class – particularly the Renault Captur – place an emphasis on vehicle customisation, Worthington said the EcoSport would stick to a simpler options list including a hard spare tyre cover, body-colour key and floor mats, among others.
“If we offer the right number of colours and the right number of wheels and the right number of series, I’m pretty sure these customers are probably going to be pretty happy with that.
“I don’t know if this customer is that enamoured with making their EcoSport something that’s showy and stand-out-y.”
Read CarAdvice’s Ford EcoSport Review.