Ford EcoSport has served the Filipinos with their urge of owning a premium crossover from quite some time now. Leading the sales charts and contributing considerably to the sales of the brand in the Philippines, the premium vehicle from the stable of American brand has conquered the segment with a strong margin. Over the years, the demand for this vehicle has only seen a new high and attracted as many as 837 new customers in April 2016, which is a 25% rise as compared to the same period of the last year. Its head-turning looks, economical engine under the hood and smartly laid up interior are the prime factors boosting the sales for the EcoSport in the Philippines market. With a recent establishment of crossover market in the Philippines, EcoSport has gathered loads of love bags from the customers across the country and being engineered with 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine, it is one of the efficient buys in this segment. But, how does it actually feels sitting behind that blue oval brand’s steering wheel? We took it to roll down the crowd ridden city streets as well as on the expressways to analyze the feel, comfort and dynamics it has to offer.
So, in order to get to the core and test the limits of the EcoSport we decided to take it down to the real test. Here is our take on the EcoSport and hope you get to know it a little more precisely.
So, it was the Mars Red EcoSport, which was presented to me as a test mule. The first look at the EcoSport made me utter a single word “cute”. Haha, yes indeed I spoke it when it was first parked in front of me. Carrying the styling of a large hatch and bubbled up to give a strong road presence, the blue oval brand did a fantastic job by granting it with the aggressive elements yet maintaining its cutesy look. The overall profile looks subtle, beefed up and bold at the same time. The big octagonal grille, swept back headlamps, non-painted lower cladding, circular fog lamps and muscular creased hood account for its bold front profile. While moving to its side, your vision will travel across the door mounted body colored ORVMs with turn indicators, bulged out wheel arches and the plastic black cladding that runs across its side profile. At the rear, you’ll find the spare wheel positioned on the side-opening tailgate, which I personally felt was intended to give the cutesy EcoSport an SUV touch and yes Ford has somewhat managed to achieve the same.
I was privileged to receive a top of the line variant, Titanium as my test vehicle, which ran on the rubber of size 205/60 R16. All the three models get 16-inch alloys while the entry level model is blessed with 15-inch steel with wheel covers.
Overall, it looked solid from outside with a thicker metal sheet used in the making and its sharp styling creases across the profile serve as a basis for better drag coefficient.
It was then time to enter the Ford EcoSport, I must say the entry to the crossover was effortless unlike in the case of old school SUVs which require a little climb up. The entry was a thumbs up. Although, it isn’t a full-size SUV but the crossover has a built that is a bit higher giving it an SUV-like feel. The funky and sporty characteristics from outside have been carried over inside the cabin too. Adding to the sporty appeal is the black color tone, which is prominent inside the cabin and Ford has done it the right way as Beige color tone is too sophisticated. However, point in notice here was that the cabin looked even more narrow and compact due to presence dark shade but I like the black. To garnish the cabin, silver accents have been added to the centre console, AC vents, speedometer cluster and steering wheel. While the climate control cluster and gear knob are sparkled with the presence of piano black bezel. The cabin as a whole looked compact and well laid up to me apart from the issue of loosely fitted plastic panels, which I encountered when I tried my hands on the instrument console and the area surrounding the gear lever.
Occupying the front seats gave a sense of comfort. The higher seating allows you to feel like you are in a real full-size SUV even if you are actually not. The room for my legs and head was ample. Support around that driver’s seat was also thoughtfully optimized. The seats were well cushioned and the leather covering them was up to the standards, which are suited for long distance journeys. While the red stitching on the seats grants it a sporty feel. As a driver, it offered me quite a few options for adjustment and comfort including lumbar support, seat adjustable option, tilt and telescopic steering wheel and a foldable driver armrest. All the options provided me a perfect driving position as I got ready for the drive. Rear seats offer good leg as well head room for an average built person, like me (height 5’10”) while if the person is bulky and heavy they also don’t have much to complain about, but would surely won’t welcome the third partner in.
On the entertainment front, it has an amazing in-built audio system which impressed me the most. The high bass tracks gelled nicely with the audio equipment yielding an impressive output throughout. It also comes with an information screen, voice commands, SYNC feature and USB/AUX connectivity allowing you to shuffle through your favorite tracks on the go. The interesting thing with the audio system was the volume compensation, means the volume went high with the increase in speed of the car.
How can I forget to mention the air conditioning system that this cute EcoSport adheres? It was certainly mind blowing and kept the temperature cool and breezy inside despite the sun beating at its peak outside. It cooled the cabin within a handful of minutes while the lower range is 16-degree celsius which can be reached. However, you need to manually switch to recirculation mode every time you start it as it automatically goes to the fresh-air mode when the engine starts.
Talking about the storage, this Ford model has a lot to offer. In total there are 9 bottle holders, 2 each at the front doors while 1 for each rear door. Plus, 3 can be located near the handbrake. In addition to these, I kept the coke cans freezing at all times in the cooled glovebox, which isn't that big but offers good enough space for storing at most 6 cans at once. The centre console also has space for your knicks and knacks. A small drawer beneath the front passenger seat acts as icing on the cake, which can hold up to 1 Kg of stuff that too away from your vision.
So, it was then time to roll it through the streets. The EcoSport Titanium underpins a 1.5-litre in-line four-cylinder engine that is potent to pump out a max power of 110 PS at 6300 rpm and a peak torque of 142 Nm at 4500 rpm. The engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission system. In terms of ride and handling the EcoSport passed with a huge margin as the ride was amazing with little tits and bits here and there. It was pretty swift and easy to maneuver along the city streets, thanks to its sharp and responsive steering wheel. Although, some say its steering is soft, but personally I feel it was adequate for the crowded city roads. However, there were multiple blind spots which caused worries while on the go, particularly on the front three-quarters and rear three-quarters. The parking sensors, however, helped the cause by allowing me to park in the right slots conveniently.
You could hardly feel the engine’s vibration and outside noise inside the cabin, which was a plus. Also, the engine was smooth with low NVH levels on the city roads. While my drive to areas with a lot of bumps and potholes, the EcoSport didn’t disappoint me as the suspension was absolutely outstanding. It soaked in a majority of the bumps as I could hardly feel anything disheartening of that sort. The suspension looked nice and tight and didn’t roll either when I pushed it through the corners or steep circle turns, which impressed me to a great extent. Also, the presence of front anti-roll bars and rear twin shock absorbers took care of the body roll. The Goodyear tires took the responsibility on their shoulders to keep the car in control and adhered to the road at all times even on the rough turns and I am glad to announce that they did a fabulous job in achieving the same.
At high speeds, the engine responded quite brilliantly. With zero noise entering in, the car looked perfectly stable and reassuring. The tires too ensured that the car stayed in contact with the road at all times.
All in all, I enjoyed driving the EcoSport as it turned out to be a master in most of the traits on both cities as well as high-speed roads.
Considering the flexibility, space and ease of driving, EcoSport offers, it would be a wise move to put your money on this car. But on which variant is the question to be answered. Personally, I feel going for the top of the line variant won’t be a sensible move as it costs you around PhP 985,000. If the automatic transmission isn’t an essential feature you’d like to opt for then Trend MT EcoSport has it all covered. EcoSport is easy to maneuver through city roads than a full-size SUV and is big enough to serve well than a regular hatch, which is what makes it a crossover to look forward to as your next car.