Test all limits in the Nissan Navara
Test all limits in the Nissan Navara

Some black magic for the Ford Eco Sport

The South African automotive industry is currently being invaded by the crossover SUV segment, clocking up record sales for the segment every month. It seems that every month there is a new addition to the segment claiming it’s the best thing since sliced bread. And having tested most of these contenders in recent months, I can attest to the fact that they are mostly pretty good. I have been wanting to get behind the wheel of the segment “OG” and now, with the special “Black” edition, I had the opportunity.  

The Ford EcoSport has been around for years, having been launched 2012 as a B-segment crossover for global markets. It was the first of its kind to gain major success and notoriety in South Africa and as a result, it has been one of Ford’s most successful SUV offerings to date. In fact, it laid the foundation for the current cross-over success.

The Black Edition – undoubtedly designed to counter the barrage of newcomers – is based on the Ambiente 1.5 Auto. The Ambiente is the entry-level spec, but the Black edition received a few cosmetic upgrades. The front grille and skid plate are finished in black, with black decals on the flanks and bonnet. There’s a painted black roof, integrated black roof rails and 16-inch – yes,  you guessed it – black alloy wheels that replace the basic 15-inch steel rims on the standard model.

Continuing the black theme, you will find black mirror caps and a black spare wheel cover. And it does what it needs to – the black finish pops nicely and makes an ordinary car stand out a bit. The interior remains untouched – it is a replica of the entry-level Ambiente with cloth seats and functional dash. While it boasts For’ds Sync infotainment system, it all feels a bit dated and lacks Apple Carplay/Andriod Auto functionality.  

The upgrade doesn’t offer anything with regards to performance – it really is just a better looking Ambiente, powered by a 1.5-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine. It procures a decent 91kW of power and 151Nm and is mated to a 6-speed automatic gearbox.  While it offers nothing out of the ordinary, it makes for a solid urban commute and is easy to park, with enough power to zip through city traffic. The direct steering and tiny turning circle made navigating narrow city roads a breeze and fuel consumption at between 6 and 7 litres/100km makes it one of the more frugal options out there. On the open road, it offered a fairly comfortable drive but at times you did realise it was bit out of its comfort zone.

When driving at highway speeds it felt fine, but when you’re looking for that boost of power, especially while overtaking, the auto box was left seeking and not always finding the right gear. It tends to over-rev, and the engine noise is quite harsh when this happens. After about an hour on the open road, the lack of cruise control becomes an issue.

The EcoSport is available with a 1,5 litre 3-cylinder petrol engine producing 91 kW of power and 151 Nm. It’s paired with a 6-speed automatic gearbox. The gearbox and engine are optimized for city commuting. This became very clear once I took on the open road. It was comfortable, but at times y

All in all, the EcoSport is not a bad option, but it does feel dated (which is to be expected, considering it has been around for close to a decade). The current shape was updated with a facelift back in 2016, and the “grand dad” of the compact cross-over segment is starting to look it. While the black accents in this special edition does make it a bit more current, the interior fails to impress compared to other segment players. It is certainly lacing in the modern tech departments but makes up for it in other departments like power output and fuel consumption.

Pricing wise, it is competitive at R336 900 for the Black edition. The Ambiente 1.5 6AT is available for R322 700. All EcoSports are available with Ford Protect, comprising a 4-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty, 3-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and 5-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. Additionally, a 4-year/60 000km service plan is included, with 15 000km service intervals.

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