Friday, March 29, 2013
UPDATED: Ford Unveils Segment-Busting EcoSport for ASEAN Markets
UPDATE: We have now included more launch pictures of the Ford EcoSport after the break.
Designed and built to marry the agility, affordability, and fuel efficiency of a compact car with the flexibility and spaciousness of a sport utility vehicle, the Ford EcoSport is touted as the aspirational alternative to a typical sedan. Though it rides on top of Ford’s B-segment platform (which also happens to underpin the award-winning Fiesta), the EcoSport certainly looks the part: it’s rugged and muscular while remaining dynamic and young at the same time. Upfront, it conveys an energetic look with its slim headlamps framing a high-mounted trapezoidal grille. At the side, the raised belt line and hard character crease lend a macho look; while at the back, the wrap-around rear window and oblique tail lamps lend a sleek profile. The spare tire was intentionally mounted at the back as a classic SUV design cue while giving a larger, more usable cargo space with a lower loading height.
Inside, the EcoSport borrows heavily from the Fiesta’s cabin, which isn’t a bad thing. It features a highly ergonomic cockpit layout with large controls and knobs. This is then complimented by a top-notch fit and finish with soft-touch fabrics, tight panel gaps, and Ice Blue dashboard illumination. The EcoSport fits 5 comfortably with its larger than expected interior space (up to 705 liters with the rear seats folded down) and supportive seats. The Driver gets the added bonus of a high seating position for a commanding view around the vehicle making it highly maneuverable in tight city streets.
Sharing roughly 30 percent of its components with the Fiesta, the greatest engineering challenge of the EcoSport is how it can successfully combine the attributes of a compact car with that of an SUV. First, the EcoSport uses an advanced 1.5-liter gasoline engine with Ti-VCT or Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing technology. Based on the same engine family as the Fiesta’s 1.6, the EcoSport’s engine produces a commendable 108 horsepower and 138 Nm of torque. Making sure that power is efficiently transferred onto the road, the EcoSport comes with either a 5-speed manual or with the trademark 6-speed PowerShift dual clutch automatic transmission. Second, the EcoSport features an aerodynamically honed body and electric power assist steering (EPAS) for better real world fuel efficiency. Third, though the EcoSport features a rear Torsion Beam Axle, it does have relatively thick sway bars and 16-inch alloy wheels with V-rated 205/60 R 16 rubber for agile and capable handling. And lastly, through clever engineering, Ford raised the EcoSport’s wading depth to 550-mm of water: higher than some “hardcore” SUVs.
As sophisticated as the EcoSport is underneath, it’s even more surprising with its level of creature comfort features. First, with Ford Power Start, drivers no longer need their keys to either unlock the SUV or start its engine. All it takes is the push of a button. Second, the EcoSport comes with Ford SYNC, an unparalleled in-car connectivity system that combines hands-free phone calling and music selection through intuitive menus or voice commands. Third, the EcoSport features a chilled glove box that can keep a six pack cool, a perfect must-have for long drives. And in the higher Titanium trim, the EcoSport actually has sunroof and leather seating as standard equipment.
“The all-new Ford EcoSport is yet another milestone in our product-led transformation across the region,” said Matt Bradley, President, Ford ASEAN. “It marries the best of both worlds—fusing the maneuverability and fuel efficiency of a compact car with the practicality and robustness of an SUV in a contemporary package.”
Once designed and built solely for Ford’s South American operations, the EcoSport is now truly a One Ford global vehicle which leverages the design and engineering know-how of the entire Ford worldwide team. The EcoSport will be marketed to more than 100 countries including Europe, which was just announced at the Geneva Motor Show early March. For ASEAN markets, the EcoSport will be built at the state-of-the-art Ford Thailand Manufacturing (FTM) plant in Rayong, Thailand joining the Focus as the company’s second vehicle to be built at the facility. This will also be the fourth plant to assemble the EcoSport joining Brazil, India, and China. The EcoSport is expected to roll off the production line around fourth quarter of this year with sales following soon thereafter.
Although market-specific plans have yet to be announced, Ford’s continued roll out of fresh products as well as a genuine push into untapped market segments would undoubtedly catapult the brand to new heights, building on the already strong retail sales. In 2012 alone, Ford has seen a 27-percent year-on-year sales rise to 87,623 units regionally. The arrival of the Ford EcoSport is expected to further ratchet up the sales momentum in the region even further.
“Ford has been going from strength to strength in ASEAN with our segment-leading One Ford vehicles,” said Bradley. “We are confident that the all-new EcoSport will draw even more new customers into our Ford showrooms.”