If you are a gravel traveller on a budget, the default choice has always been Ford’s Ecosport. Launched back in 2013, it has utterly dominated the mini-SUV segment. In the last few years there has been credible opposition, such as Renault’s Duster and of late, the Hyundai Creta.
Reaction to a more competitive local mini-SUV market, Ford has introduced the second-generation version o fits Ecosport. Most noticeable is the styling evolution, which now features the power-dome bonnet, grille and front fascia as seen on Kuga. Inside there are a range of touchscreen infotainment interfaces, depending on specification grade, with the Titanium derivative featuring an 8-inch screen. The luggage space, at 333-litres, is a bit tight and inexplicably so, considering the spare wheel is mounted to the back of Ecosport, instead of under it.
Some elements of the Ecosport have been left unchanged, such as the tailgate mounted spare wheel and the entire range’s front-wheel drive only configuration. Powering these second-generation mini-SUVs are a choice of two turbocharged engines, a 1-litre triple or 1.5-litre diesel. The latter is only available with a five-speed manual transmission and produces 74kW and 205Nm. Most of the sales are expected to go to Ecosport’s 1-litre motor, which despite its size, is good for 92kW and 170Nm, and drives through a choice of two six-speed transmission, either manual or automatic.
Rural exploration has always been an Ecosport forte and with 206mm of ground clearance, it will happily tour for thousands of kilometres on South African dirt roads, surviving even the harshest pothole or draining ditch encounters. An all-wheel drive Ecosport would be fantastic and provide a true counter to Renault’s Duster, which offers a derivative with torque rolling all four wheels, but Ford doesn’t have that eventuality within its immediate planning strategy.
Contemporary styling and a strong level of cabin digitisation, combined with a relatively sophisticated turbocharged petrol engine, make Ecosport a compelling package within the mini-SUV segment, a market which Ford effectively started.
1.5 TDCi Ambiente 5-speed manual R264 500
1.0 EcoBoost Trend 6-speed manual R287 500
1.0 EcoBoost Trend 6-speed auto R300 700
1.0 EcoBoost Titanium 6-speed manual R327 800
1.0 EcoBoost Titanium 6-speed auto R339 900