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Ford pumps up EcoSport with EcoBoost


I WAS fortunate enough to see the Ford EcoSport in concept form at the 2012 Delhi Auto Show in India. There was a lot of hype surrounding the vehicle, particularly because of its engine.

The powerful 1.0-litre EcoBoost is the smallest in its class with an engine block the size of an A4 piece of paper. It’s no wonder then that it forced us to change our perceptions of small engines. I’ve had to wait over a year and a half to finally see it in production guise and drive it.

So when it finally arrived, I decided to take this little engine on a big adventure. Doing well over 2 000km in the week we had it on test, I wanted to like the EcoSport from the get-go.

The styling is fresh and an escape from the mundane, while still embodying Ford’s design philosophy. And while the SUV may be relatively diminutive in size, its clever cabin design means that there is a sense of space so you can commute in relative comfort.

The only thing I’m not a huge fan of is the finish. Built in India, it leaves a lot to be desired, but the long list of standard features in our Titanium-spec model more than made up for this.

It’s equipped with, among others, cruise control, climate control and the now-renowned Ford SYNC, the voice-activated in-car connectivity system powered by Microsoft. Once you learn how to operate it, it’s a real breeze to use.

Luggage loaded and the urban SUV filled with occupants, we headed out. The manoeuvrability is what you would expect from a vehicle of this stature, but it’s rather comfy on the open road and we even managed to do a spot of gravel driving, where this B-segment vehicle on stilts was more than content.

During the exploration, I grew fond of my modern American. It’s a vehicle with a lot of promise and it seems like Ford has perfected the art of downsizing.

Its little three-cylinder powertrain produces 92kW of power and 170Nm of torque, figures usually associated with bigger, more traditional 1.6-litre engines. Across the rev range, the EcoBoost motor gains speed quickly and devours hills. It’s hard to fathom that there is such a small turbocharged engine delivering such sporty performance.

But I have a gripe, because Ford claims a fuel consumption of 5.7 litres/100km for this two-time International Engine of the Year. I know this figure is claimed under ideal driving conditions and so on. However, I managed to achieve only 8.2 litres/100km with plenty of highway driving and cruise control set to the national speed limit, a far cry from the claimed figure. I suppose that’s probably the most disappointing aspect: despite my best efforts, the EcoSport’s fuel figure remained in the above-eights. Maybe it’s because the little powertrain has to work that much harder.

I’m still a fan of Ford’s small urban SUV, because it showcases the future of engine technology in one handy and rugged package. The only concern I’m sure many South Africans will have is how long the engine will last in our hot climate.

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