News of the week:
- Mazda has revealed the first images of the fourth generation MX-5.
- The MX-5 has a reputation for the best-selling sports cars in the world.
- Since its launch in 1989, the model has sold around 1 million vehicles.
- Unveiled at synchronized events in Spain, Japan and North America, the new MX-5 has been penned using the same Kodo design language as both the Mazda 3 and Mazda 6.
- Unlike the saloons, which have softer lines, the MX-5 has an added depth of aggression, with sharp cascading lines and flared panels.
- Engines options remain unconfirmed at this stage but we understand 1.5L and 2.0L petrol engines featuring the latest SKYACTIV technology will be offered – developing around 100 and 120kW.
- We do know a six-speed manual gearbox will fitted as standard, with an auto available as an option.
- Expect pricing from around R400 000. It will go on sale in about a year from now in SA.
Road Test: Ford EcoSport 1.5 TDCi
In an attempt to capitalise on its share of the market, Ford’s is throwing a lot of new product at the markets it serves. It’s paying particular attention to SUVs because this sector is going through a substantial growth spurt.
You may think our roads are not exactly short of them at the moment, but industry experts believe this is peanuts compared with what you’ll be seeing by 2017.
And this is why the Brazilian-developed Ford EcoSport, a car you probably weren’t aware of in its previous form, is being brought to your attention in this one. Ford did not think, a few years ago, that it was worth trying to sell a small SUV to South Africans, but it does now.
How enthusiastic South Africans have been is another matter. I think it’s reasonable to suggest that different cars make different amounts of sense in different countries. Ford’s huge F250 pickup, for example, is extraordinarily popular in the USA but sold poorly in South Africa.
I have never been to Brazil so I’m in no position to make a definitive statement, but for all I know the EcoSport suits that market absolutely perfectly. Locally, it feels substantially inferior to the best vehicles in its class.
You may be mildly interested to know that it’s built on the same platform used for the Fiesta. If you’re expecting Fiesta-like quality, though, you can forget it. The interior plastics are similar to those used in the van-based Tourneo, and a long way below the standard you can expect in the Ford Fiesta, for example.
The driving experience isn’t up to much either. On an admittedly short drive – but one conducted on a wide variety of roads – there were times when I thought the body of the car was trying to go in a different direction from the way the wheels were pointing, which was less than encouraging.
The test car’s 1.5L engine produced 66kW and 205Nm, which isn’t a lot for a car of this height, but in return for performance which is unlikely ever to be more than stately you get a low 120g/km CO2 rating which makes this EcoSport low on an emission tax. It’s not that quite either… you’ll get from 0-100kph in 14.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 160kph.
Fuel economy is brilliant and that’s what matters importantly. During our test period, I managed a low combined comsumption of 5.2-litres per 100km. It comes equipped with a 52 litre fuel tank, so you can expect over 1000km on a single tank of fuel.
Whoever designed the windows seemed not to be interested in whether or not anyone would be able to see out, and for local customers there’s a problem with the rear door. It’s hinged on the left, so if you’re parked on the correct side of the road you have to walk round it before you can put anything in the luggage compartment.
The spare wheel (full-sized, as they should all be) is mounted on that door, a very sensible place to put it because it’s always going to be within easy reach. Keeping it out of the luggage compartment is also handy because there isn’t a lot of room in there.
The volume with the rear seats in place is 362 litres, which sounds okay, but most of it is created by height. The actual floor area isn’t generous. However, with the seats folded, it extends to a full 705 litres.
You’ll be aware by now that I don’t think much of the EcoSport as a car, but it’s pretty well-equipped. Titanium is the high spec trim level for the 1.5 TDCi, and it includes 16″ alloy wheels, automatic air-conditioning, roof rails, Hill Start Assist, keyless entry and start, all-round electric windows, leather seats, rain sensing wipers, auto lights and a cooled glovebox.
Rear parking sensors come at a cost (a wise investment given the lack of glass area) and for a more you can have the SYNC system which gives you six audio speakers, Bluetooth connectivity, emergency assistance and voice control of apps on your linked smartphone.
These things make the EcoSport more appealing, and brand loyalty to Ford will no doubt help sales too. But this is far from being the best small SUV on the market, and I wish I didn’t sense quite so much desperation behind the decision to sell it in this part of the world.
Pricing is key and at R258 900, I would rather have the less attractive, yet very functional Renault Duster 1.5 dCi. That model comes with AWD, while the EcoSport still remains a FWD.
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