It isn't a terrible CUV but with loads more options in the segment, the Ford EcoSport Titanium struggles to make a compelling offer over more affordable EcoSport deviratives, not to mention the competition.
The Ford EcoSport has been around, in some form or another, for the last nine years. This is evident every time you go leave your house. You’re bound to see at least two on the road. Since its launch, in 2013, the Blue Oval has sold around 75,000 vehicles to eager South African buyers. There’s no denying that it filled a gap or ticked the boxes South Africans want ticked.
Things have slowed down a bit in 2022. That could be because the EcoSport is starting to get a bit long in the tooth. Or maybe it’s that the EcoSport faces a lot more competition from other brands.
Ford sent us a 2022 model of its fully-specced, top-of-the-range Titanium derivative to drive around for a week so that we could answer the question: is it still worth considering the EcoSport when there are plenty of other options available?
Need to overtake? Say please
The Ford Titanium, together with the Trend and the new Active, uses a 1.0-litre 3-cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost petrol engine. This will produce 92kW of power and 170Nm of torque. Some critics have described this as a “multi-award winning” engine but it doesn’t feel (or sound) like it when you put your foot down.
At low speeds around the city, you’re in for a smooth, comfortable ride. Steering is fairly accurate and responsive which makes the EcoSport feel nimble despite being a front-wheel-drive CUV. Ours came with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The gear changes feel seamless… until you need to overtake someone on the highway.
Revs shoot all the way to the red, like you’ve just seen green in Need for Speed. Gear changes become laboured as the 1.0-litre attempts to provide the power you’re demanding. It delivers it in the end, it just seems like a gargantuan task every time. You almost feel sorry for asking.
Another thing that nagged in the back of our minds was the ‘eco’ in ‘EcoSport’. In our week with it, we found that a little misleading. We managed average consumption of 8.8 litres per 100km. This was mostly city driving with a weekend trip out to Hartebeespoort for some fresh farm produce. That’s a little too high for us to consider economical. We suppose we could’ve employed more economical driving techniques to bring that down. But isn’t the vehicle supposed to do that for you, and not the other way around?
Open the doors, climb in
Inside the cabin, things improve. Slightly. The EcoSport received a facelift in 2018. That’s probably one of the reasons it has managed to last this long. But that was four years ago. It’s nearly time for another one if Ford plans on keeping the EcoSport around any longer.
The cabin is smaller than it looks from the outside. If it’s just the driver and a passenger then it can be quite spacious. But when you’ve got someone in the back, things start to feel cramped. Either the driver and front passenger are comfortable and the back folks have to fold up their legs, or everyone makes some sacrifices. Vertically challenged folks will have their feet swinging on the back seat but longer people won’t have to bend at the neck thanks to the increased body height.
Ford has included an 8in centre-mounted touchscreen in its Trend and Titanium models. This uses Ford’s Sync 3 OS and… well it’s not the worst infotainment system we’ve seen. It’s intuitive enough that you won’t pull out your hair after setting up for the first time and then never using it again because there’s Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support.
Car manufacturers all over the world are constantly underserving when it comes to the infotainment system. They’ll list support for Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, as if they’re doing you a favour. It’s 2022. If you’re going to market your vehicle as something new, these features should be standard. And they should work. Thankfully, they did in the EcoSport.
One of the features that set the Titanium apart from the other derivatives (and which you pay extra for) is onboard navigation. With Android Auto support, we didn’t use this once. What’s the point when we can use Google Maps or Waze, which already know where we want to go?
Other features exclusive to the Titanium are keyless entry and start, folding mirrors, partial leather seats, and 17in wheels. These, along with the white elephant navigation make the Titanium option difficult to recommend over cheaper models. If (partial) leather seats and 17in wheels are important to you, you’re better off with the new Active model, which has the same engine, is available in automatic, and has better-looking 17in rims.
There’s an app for that?
Then there’s the FordPass app. We were looking forward to seeing what Ford had to offer and if it had improved things since the last time we tested it. It hasn’t. That’s not to say that it’s bad. It’s just a one-trick pony.
For starters, it doesn’t work on every phone. We had the Honor Magic 4 Pro at the same time as the EcoSport. When we tried loading the app on there, it crashed before we could log in. We didn’t have any problems with our older Samsung flagship, but it’s just something to keep in mind.
Within the app, you can unlock, lock and start your vehicle remotely from anywhere in the world, provided you and your car have signal. You can also schedule it to start at a set time. This lets you start it early to warm up the interior on cold mornings, or climb into an already cool car on hot days. Well, that’s the idea anyway.
Unfortunately, you don’t have any control over the climate in the app. It’ll take your last used settings or default to ‘auto’. Adding this feature will make Ford’s app more than just a cool party trick. The app also provides up-to-date fuel levels and odometer readings, if you need those and aren’t in the car.
Ford EcoSport Titanium verdict
The Ford EcoSport continues to hold its ground in the CUV segment but, as it ages, it’s becoming difficult to see why. At R417,000, the additional features are tough to justify. If you’re willing to go without partial leather seats and foldy mirrors, you can save yourself R40k and get the Trend. You save another R17k by choosing the manual option which will give you more control over all that ‘power’ from the 1.0-litre turbo engine.