Ford Australia have announced the arrival of a new EcoSport, bringing a long list of cosmetic, mechanical, and equipment updates to a crossover contender that has thus lagged behind the competition in what is, by all accounts, a very lucrative sector of the market.
Perhaps this is the infusion the little Ford needs to get buyers looking its way. Although, it’s touching down at a time when the count of hungry rivals has risen considerably since the EcoSport’s initial launch in 2013; the Mazda CX-3, Hyundai Kona, and Toyota C-HR being the more obvious examples.
The 2018 EcoSport, in what can only be described as a sizeable mid-life update, now offers greater levels of comfort and refinement via a reworked interior, sporting newly designed centre console - that puts one in mind of the newly launched Fiesta - with much less button clutter, and a completely new palette of trim and upholstery materials.
Selected as the range-topping Titanium variant, it also gains partial-leather seats and the 8-inch centrally-mounted infotainment system with Ford’s SYNC 3 system software that supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity.
The less expensive Ambiente and Trend have to make do with a smaller 6.5-inch unit, but even that’s a huge step forward from the paltry TFT display used in the previous EcoSport as well as the previous Fiesta hatch.
Outside, the car’s proportions and profile are retained to enough of a degree for it to be quickly recognisable - an all-new model this is not. However, Ford has given it some extra oomph this time around, adopting some cues lifted from the larger Escape, headlined by a large trapezoidal grille and more angular headlamps.
The rear end, meanwhile, remains familiar but distinctly improved as there’s generally a more sculpted appearance that should win it some points, as might the 3 new exterior colours: Lightning Blue, Canyon Ridge and classic Diamond White.
However, most importantly, Ford has given the EcoSport’s powertrain package a revision too. The 1.5-litre naturally aspirated Ti-VCT petrol is carried over to power only the base Trend. The new (but not so new) addition comes in the form of a 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost turbo-petrol that’s able to generate 92kW and 170Nm; a 2kW and 20Nm increase over the larger atmospheric. No matter the engine, though, the EcoSport’s sole transmission choice is a 6-speed torque converter automatic.
Ford is due to announce final pricing for the 2018 Ford EcoSport in mid-December, though we can’t imagine it varying too much from the outgoing model’s s list price of between $20,000 and $30,000.
“The Ford EcoSport brings a new, smart look to Ford’s expanding SUV line-up, but importantly allows Australians – who we know love SUVs – a compact vehicle that offers a raised seating position, interior space and overall flexibility,” said Ford President and CEO, Graeme Whickman.
“That’s why we’ve seen SUVs overtake passenger car sales in 2017, and we’ve responded to this with a broader range for Australians to choose from, with a new Escape, more Everest models and the confirmation that we will launch the all-new Endura in 2018,” he said.