Ford will launch its entry into the burgeoning compact SUV segment from December 1, with the Indian-built EcoSport flying the Blue Oval in the face of fresh competition from Holden, Nissan, Peugeot and Fiat, with Renault and Honda also readying their challengers.
Launching in top-spec Titanium trim for now, the EcoSport will carry a $27,790 entry price until the lesser Ambiente and Trend variants join the lineup in February 2014. Like the Holden Trax and Peugeot 2008, the EcoSport will be offered in front-wheel drive only, and will offer the choice of the 82kW/140Nm 1.5-litre petrol four from the Fiesta hatch range, or the widely-acclaimed 92kW/170Nm 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol three-cylinder unit that’s set to join the Fiesta lineup shortly.
From February, the EcoSport Ambiente will be available with the 1.5-litre only, at $20,790 with a five-speed manual, or $22,790 with the six-speed PowerShift dual-clutch auto. The also-delayed mid-spec Trend will command $22,290 in 1.0-litre manual guise, or $24,790 for a 1.5-litre auto version.
The top-tier Titanium model arriving next week will also be available with either engine, at $25,790 for the 1.0-litre manual and $27,790 in 1.5-litre auto.
Ambiente models will be identified by 15 inch steel wheels, and come equipped with a flexible interior with 20 storage cavities, manual aircon, an overhead console with sunglasses holder, dual 12V power sockets, a 3.5 inch multimedia screen and Ford’s SYNC smartphone connectivity and voice control system.
Trend models will step up to 16 inch alloys with front fog lamps, cruise control, unique cloth interior trim, adjustable lumbar support for the driver, silver dash detailing, extra map lights and a chilled glovebox that can hold six cans.
Titanium models wear unique 16 inch alloys, chrome exterior detailing and score a standard spare wheel cover ($265 option on Ambiente and Trend), while the inside gets leather trim on the seats and steering wheel, climate control and an auto-dimming rearview mirror, proximity keys, auto wipers and headlamps, and rear parking sensors.
Cargo space for all models is a tall 346L area with the seats up, which expands to a 705L flat-floor area with the 60/40 split seats folded, with a full-size spare wheel fitted to a side-hinged tailgate.
On the safety front, Ford expects a five-star safety rating with dual front and side, curtain and knee airbags for a total count of seven, plus ABS and stability control.
Ford EcoSport Ambiente 1.5 5sp manual – $20,790
Ford EcoSport Ambiente 1.5 6sp auto – $22,790
Ford EcoSport Trend 1.0 5sp manual - $22,290
Ford EcoSport Trend 1.5 6sp auto - $24,790
Ford EcoSport Titanium 1.0 5sp manual - $25,790
Ford EcoSport Titanium 1.5 6sp auto – $27,790
Watch the desktop version of the Ford EcoSport Titanium first drive video here.
This reporter is on Twitter: @Mal_Flynn