Driven: Ford EcoSport 1.0 Ecoboost Active – How is the EcoSport still competing after so many years?
I kept asking myself this question as I was on the N1 north between Pretoria and Polokwane. This was when I did a 700km journey on the recently introduced Ford EcoSport Active.
Look, I have seen the EcoSport enough in my life to accept it, the car has been around since 2013 and the first time I saw it, I thought it was a little weird. This is because my first vehicle is a 2014 Ford Fiesta 1.4L Duratec Ambiente and I could not help but see a Fiesta dough mixed with yeast when I first saw the EcoSport. I was not even thinking about fancy terms like “Platform-sharing” at the time, I just saw that the two are similar in many ways but the height and length of the EcoSport could not allow my eyes to process it well.
It seems like I needed glasses because wow! Did Ford not sell so many of these vehicles? It’s been almost 10 years and the EcoSport was still counted amongst the fifteen top selling cars in South Africa by mid-2022. I don’t have the total sales figures since the introduction but there should be a reason Ford South Africa is keeping this car going for so long.
Unlike its bigger sibling in the bakkie segment, the Ranger, the EcoSport is not built/assembled here in South Africa, it’s an import from India and Europe, where the former is providing the 1.5 normally aspirated variants and the latter provides 1.0 Ecoboost. In fact, India has indicated that they stopped manufacturing it but no such word came out of Europe, so if the love we’ve seen over the years is anything to go by, South Africans are still in for a treat from the European arm of the Blue Oval.
I was given the latest derivative to arrive on our shores, the EcoSport Active 1.0L Ecoboost to test and see what is it that convinces South Africans so much that it is still dancing with the recently introduced vehicles because, since its initial release, it has seen competition increasing by the day, some probably even found it and left and it still running, by that I mean
you can still get a brand new one from the dealership today. As we’ve seen before with Ranger and Everest, Ford sure knows how to trigger consumers with some subtle tweaks on their current products. I mean look at the freshness of the special editions of the outgoing Ranger and Everest, the vehicles they are based on are more than 10 years old, but Ford still finds a way to make you turn your head when the Stormtrak or Everest Sport is passing by. This derivative is also part of that story by Ford, it is a special edition.
What’s the story with it?
The EcoSport Active is based on the Trend variant, which means it falls just below the top-spec Titanium. It is powered by the same 1.0L turbocharged- EcoBoost engine that is good for 92kw and 170nm of torque. In South Africa, you can only get it with a 6-speed automatic. It identifies differently from the vehicle it’s based on by the amazing 17” rims, all-around cladding comes with rear privacy windows, black styling that includes a black roof, mirror caps, blacked-out grille, and some black trim around the front headlights and fog lights.
When you get inside you will not miss the leather seats engraved with the letter “A” which surely stands for Active. To say these tweaks made it a looker is an understatement, this is, in my opinion, the best-looking EcoSport variant. It really stands out in the crowd and well into it's segment. By Segment, I mean the Kia Sonet, Hyundai Venue, Toyota Urban Cruiser, Suzuki Vitara Brezza, Chery Tiggo 4 Pro, Nissan Magnite, Renault Kiger, etc. This list is not exhaustive as this segment is way more competitive than when EcoSport first came out.
But, how come it still has a seat at the table with recently introduced vehicles after so many years running?
Let me talk about my story with it. It was on a Thursday morning around 8:00 am when Ford South Africa dropped off the EcoSport Active by my place. I took the car into my parking lot, not overly curious as I did expect it to be as simple as cars come in this segment. I mean I have tested several cars in this segment already. I got into the apartment and started wondering, but why? Why did Ford keep it running for so long? I went into a mini-research mode and realised that this vehicle is one of Ford’s most strategic vehicles. Ford saw the future and realised the likes of Figo, Fiesta and Focus are not going to keep up well considering that the world is going crazy on SUVs. This is Ford’s smallest SUV in the Ford SUV family, it shares its underpinnings with the Figo and Fiesta and by that, they managed to give the world a real compromise between what used to be first-time-buyer-cars-turned-family-cars and SUV. In technical terms, one may consider this a cross of those hatches.
I thought to myself “okay that makes sense” I see why they would want to keep it. Another question arose, but why did they not change it over the years? I mean the one we are talking about here is the first facelift, a few updates were made when Ford brought the seventh generation Fiesta and that’s about it, nothing much has been changed on it.