The Ford EcoSport will target city dwellers and young families when it launches into Australia’s burgeoning sub-compact SUV market in December.
Blending the compact dimensions of a city car with the elevated ride height and added versatility of an SUV, the Fiesta-based Ford EcoSport combines the two big trends of today’s automotive industry in a package that also promises modern tech features, impressive efficiency and strong safety.
While Ford Brazil led the EcoSport’s early development, its design and engineering has been a global task involving departments from across the world, including Ford Australia.
The local team was responsible for much of the vehicle’s durability testing as well as the design of the front fascia, which explains its ‘baby Territory’ looks.
The Ford EcoSport will be offered in Australia with the choice of two petrol engines, with prices tipped to start in the low-$20,000s to match incoming rivals like the Holden Trax, Peugeot 2008 and Renault Captur.
The showpiece will be the 92kW/170Nm 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost petrol engine. The pint-sized direct-injection powerplant consumes 5.3 litres per 100km when paired with a five-speed manual transmission according to overseas tests, although its lack of an automatic option will likely make it a niche choice in auto-obsessed Australia.
Ford says there will be no auto EcoBoost option in the short-term at least, and admits it is not currently working on a self-shifting 1.0-litre combination.
For customers set on auto there is the less powerful 82kW/140Nm 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol alternative, which is available with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic in addition to the standard five-speed manual transmission. The 1.5-litre auto uses 6.4L/100km, while the manual is one-tenth more efficient.
Despite its smaller size, the added performance and efficiency of the 1.0-litre EcoBoost is expected to see it priced slightly above its 1.5-litre sibling.
“That whole marketing process is being worked through now as far as where they sit,” said Ford Australia spokesman Neil McDonald. “EcoBoost technology traditionally has been a premium engine.”
McDonald said the local division decided against including the 67kW/204Nm 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel in our line-up, believing the efficiency of the EcoBoost was enough to satisfy customers and feeling the traditional $2000-$3000 price premium for diesel models would have priced the EcoSport out of the market.
At less than four metres long, the Ford EcoSport is decidely urban focused, although its 200mm ground clearance (30mm more than a Honda CR-V) and 550mm wading depth give it partial off-road ability.
While all-wheel drive is an option for EcoSport in Brazil, however, our vehicle – which will be produced in India – will be a front-wheel-drive-only prospect.
The EcoSport’s 362-litre boot expands to 705L with the 60:40 split-fold rear seats folded and cleverly tumbled forwards, creating a useful load space. The cabin also features nine beverage holders, a chillable glovebox and a drawer underneath the driver’s seat designed for storing a laptop or map book.
Like the recently launched Ford Kuga, the EcoSport will be offered in three trim levels: Ambiente, Trend and Titanium.
Standard across the range will be Ford’s Sync system, which incorporates common features like Bluetooth phone connectivity, audio streaming and voice control, and can also read out incoming text messages and automatically alert emergency services if the vehicle has been involved in an accident.
Further enhancing safety is the standard inclusion of seven airbags: dual front, side, curtains, and a driver’s knee cushion.
While Australian specifications will be finalised closer to its local launch, high-grade models priced towards $30,000 will benefit from features such as alloy wheels, automatic headlights and wipers, front foglights, rear parking sensors, climate control, and leather upholstery.
CarAdvice is currently at the international launch of the Ford EcoSport in Goa, India. Stay tuned for our full first-drive review, coming soon.