Mini SUV gets big changes

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Text and photos by Kap Maceda Aguila

A TOTAL of five vehicle launches are rolling out for Ford Philippines this year, with three now in the books via the recent reveal of the EcoSport. Following the unveiling of the all-new Mustang convertible and all-new Expedition in April at the Manila International Auto Show, Ford last week presented the refreshed version of its compact utility vehicle, the EcoSport.

“The launch of the EcoSport back in 2014 paved the way for Ford to introduce and lead the mini-SUV segment in the country,” said Ford Philippines managing director Bertrand Lessard, in a speech at last week’s launch event in Taguig City. The EcoSport, he declared, was “a response to the need of Filipinos for a vehicle with high ground clearance that can go through floods and uneven roads,” and promises the agility, affordability and fuel efficiency of a compact car with the flexibility and spaciousness of an SUV.

Mr. Lessard’s enthusiasm over the EcoSport is not unfounded. Over the last four years, the EcoSport has maintained its lead in the segment it basically helped introduce locally. “In 2017, the EcoSport achieved a record full-year performance, with sales rising by 13% year-over-year to 11,299 [vehicles] delivered to customers,” reported the executive. Today, even with “more than 10 competitors” in the niche, the EcoSport corners about half of the business. The company reports that total unit sales in the Philippines is now approaching 39,000.

With the refreshed model, the Ford Philippines head is “optimistic that the new EcoSport will [continue] drive [the company’s] retail performance.”

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ECOBOOST ECOSPORT
Headlining the new EcoSport is its top-of-the-line EcoBoost variant, which boasts 125 hp and 170 Nm, plus automatic engine start/stop technology. Three additional variants still sport a 1.5-liter, twin independent variable camshaft timing engine — delivering 123 hp and 150 Nm — mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

Touting a “bolder look and design, refined interiors, [additional] smart and safety features, and driver-assist technologies including Sync3 with navigation and rear-view camera with rear parking assist,” the new EcoSport has a ground clearance of 209 millimeters, and receives a new grille, hood, head lamps, and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Inside, the EcoSport has additional interior accoutrements such as a leather dashboard, power sunroof and an eight-inch multicolor touch screen with redesigned interface. The Trend and Ambiente variants have a nine-inch touch screen. A seven-speaker system comes standard with the Titanium grade. Meanwhile, storage space and convenience has been augmented; a total of 1,178 liters of cargo can be accommodated and 25 storage compartments are now available.

Safety features across the range include hill-start assist, electronic brake-force distribution, an electronic stability program, ABS and six airbags.

The new EcoSport variants are priced as follows: 1.0-liter EcoBoost Titanium A/T (P1.168 million), P1.5-liter Trend A/T (P1.028 million), 1.5-liter Trend M/T (P968,000), and 1.5-liter Ambiente M/T (P918 million).

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