The car launch, circa 2020

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Kap Maceda Aguila-125

Talk Box

NOT TO BE overly dramatic about it but, last Thursday, I was part of what can only be called the advent of a new age in the local automotive industry. While “virtual launches” are nothing new, previous versions of these involved vehicles being set up somewhere and a live audience of whatever size. The virtual element only came into play for people in other parts of the world “tuning in” to the goings on.

But the unveiling of the fourth variant of Ford’s popular midsize SUV here was in many respects an ushering into the new normal. You’ll notice I neglected to use quotation marks. The thing is, this normal has been here for a while and it’s going to be here for the foreseeable future.

The Ford Everest Sport was welcomed by a Zoom guest list numbering 103 (that’s the exact figure given us by EJ Francisco, Ford Philippines AVP for communications) — comprised of media guests, dealer principals, bank officials, Ford execs, and PR people. Each of us occupied a tiny rectangle on my laptop screen, and when the presentation ensued in earnest, Ford Philippines played a video, and Managing Director PK Umashankar delivered his presentation.

And while I applaud the Ford team for this valiant effort, I must admit I couldn’t help but remember with nostalgia the real-world motoring events that are now a distant memory and cannot be staged again in similar fashion for a while. But for now, this is the best we can hope for, and so we’re grateful for the semblance of normalcy at a time when things are anything but.

With the addition of the Sport, the Ford Everest now “straddles a wider (selling) space,” said Mr. Umashankar during the Q&A portion of the program. Replying to a question about availability, the executive said that the Philippines was luckily able to secure adequate allocation before the worldwide disruption due to the pandemic.

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The variant, according to a company release, features “enhanced design and a host of driver-assist technologies that will help widen the appeal of the Ford Everest among customers who appreciate the vehicle’s versatility, safety, and capability.” Coming straight from the Ford plant in Thailand, the Everest Sport is powered by the same engine that motivates the Turbo Titanium 4×2 variant: A 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine serving up 180ps and 420Nm. Mating to Ford’s 10-speed automatic with SelectShift allows the driver to “choose between a conventional automatic-shifting drive mode (D) or semi-automatic shifting sport mode (S).” When Sport is engaged, the user can opt for automatic Sport shifting or manual shifting. The proprietary system is said to deliver enhanced acceleration, fuel efficiency, and smoothness on both on-road and off-road terrains.

At first glance, the Everest Sport is immediately distinguishable by its black body exterior accents such its new mesh grille design, embossed “Everest” hood badge at the front, gloss black-painted wheels and exterior side mirror assembly, black tailgate appliqué in the rear, and a “Sport” decal on the liftgate. The Everest Sport boasts LED projector headlamps, daytime running lights, and 20-inch alloy wheels as standard.

In the cabin, the Sport receives telltale blue stitching around the steering wheel and on the dashboard, seats, center, console, and door trims. A leather seat has eight-way power adjust for the driver; the vehicle is given smart keyless entry with push button start, and a power liftgate with hands-free function.

The Ford Everest Sport’s infotainment is predicated on an eight-inch LCD touchscreen with Sync3 that features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Connectivity, two USB ports, and 10 speakers. The Sport has cruise control, electronic power assist steering, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, electronic stability control with anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution, and roll stability control. For added safety, the SUV carries seven air bags, including side, curtain, and driver knee air bags.

This trim comes in Absolute Black, Aluminum Metallic, Arctic White, and a new Deep Crystal Blue newly made available to the Ford Everest line via the Sport. Debuting in Ford showrooms nationwide last May 22, the Ford Everest Sport has a retail price of P1.868 million. Ford Philippines offers a free three-year scheduled service plan for customers who reserve on or before May 31, 2020.

Meanwhile, Ford upgrades its Everest Titanium series with new features without adding to the price tag. The Everest 2.0L Bi-Turbo Titanium+ 4×4 AT and Everest 2.0L Turbo Titanium 4×2 AT get LED projector headlamps, plus a high-mount USB feature for the 4×4 variant. For more information, visit www.ford.com.ph/suvs/everest/ or call a Ford dealer.

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