Driven: Ford EcoSport Black

Kelly is a longtime fan of Ford’s compact SUV  so was the natural choice to review the latest installment. This is what she had to say

The Ford EcoSport has long been a top seller for the blue oval brand. It’s been a top competitor in its segment, but in all honesty faces stiff competition from newer additions such as the Suzuki Brezza and its brother-from-another-mother Toyota Urban Cruiser. To add a little bit more appeal to the mix, Ford recently added a new model in the form of the EcoSport Black. Can some cosmetic changes sway people’s buying decisions though? Let’s take a look.

What’s new about it?

The EcoSport Black is based on the entry-level Ambiente model, but gains a number of additions. This includes, well, a black treatment for the grille, front skid plate, roof, integrated roof rails, bonnet and side decals, 16-inch alloy wheels and spare wheel cover.

While a bluntly sportier look isn’t something I’d opt for on my personal vehicle, I’m not going to deny that I like this look on the EcoSport. As did many others. It turned heads more than “plain” BMWs and the like and people genuinely commented on how much they like the vehicle based on the new looks alone. It’s a base model, but it doesn’t look like a base model at all.

What standard features do you get? 

Well, we mentioned that this is based on the Ambiente, so don’t get too excited about standard specifications. That being said though, the EcoSport Black comes with power steering, electric windows, aircon, rear parking sensors, an infotainment system with USB and Bluetooth connectivity and, for safety, six airbags,  ABS and electronic traction and stability control.

When you climb inside, you might think that it looks sparse. The entertainment/infotainment system is not the touch screen that we’ve become accustomed to. It’s rather plain. And I liked it. It was easy to find everything I needed without having to flip through screens and menus. Is this what old age feels like?

What’s under the bonnet and how does it go? 

Hmm, ok. So here’s where things fall apart a bit. Under the bonnet of this EcoSport is a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine. That would have been adequate had it had a manual transmission, I think. But with the 6-speed auto box that it comes fitted with, the unit drones a bit. It’s not very punchy and while I don’t expect my compact SUVs to be punchy, I do appreciate a little bit more fire. In city driving, however, it was acceptable and with 91kW, I wouldn’t call it underpowered.

Would I buy it? 

Let me just say here – I genuinely liked this car. Droning engine and all. It’s one of those vehicles that you can drive with no fuss. There are no gears to change, no menus to scroll through and nothing much to get acquainted with before you feel completely comfortable. However – it’s expensive. I cannot tell people to buy this when the top-of-the-range Suzuki Brezza or Nissan Magnite is cheaper than this entity-level Ambiente specced EcoSport. If you have your heart set on an EcoSport though, then the Black would be an option to consider.

Pricing: EcoSport Black 1.5 6AT: R336 900

All EcoSport models come standard with Ford Protect, comprising a four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty, three-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. A four-year/60 000km service plan is included, with 15 000km service intervals.

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