THINK of Tom Cruise—that suave, spunky, lean action-packed slinging Hollywood movie star who’s unusually elfin for an American. Now, compare this downright debonaire to the new Ford EcoSport with its captivating size, phenomenal functionality and performance, thriving popularity and you can’t hardly tell the difference—at least for the Philippine market wherein over 34,000 units of its kind had already been sold and had, in fact, set ablaze a unique local segment for “Mini-SUVs” since it was introduced in our shores four years ago.
Bertrand Lessard, Ford Philippines’ managing director actually once best said it in an interview:
“The Ford EcoSport is an SUV in a league of its own combining quality design, rugged capability, best-in-class features, superior economy and great value for money, all into a single and fun vehicle.”
With this, the sensational star’s blockbuster Mission: Impossible—Fallout wherein it had him running, jumping, flying, saving the world while almost dying all for our own entertainment was—in a way similar to when the American carmaker recently staged the “New EcoSport Media Drive” for us local motoring journalists. They literally had us jump, slide, zip, swing, rappel and even walk in the air—all for their enjoyment—er, or rather, all for the sake of proving that their newest sprightly stunner is capable of merely anything—almost to the point of defying gravity.
Hence, the two-day test-drive event to Batangas was made to make us realize how to push the right buttons on the new beasts in the stable and what eventually made these best-sellers tick.
The affair started with fireworks as the select members from the media were already up and about early in the morning. From the Ford dealership in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, the fleet of six Ford EcoSport vehicles composed of four top-of-the-line Titanium specs and two mid-grade Trend variants embarked on a journey down south.
The phenomenal 1.0 Ecoboost Mill
This writer was particularly impressed with the top-spec version of the Ford EcoSport. Hands down. Churning out 123 hp at 6,000 rpm and 170 N-m of torque at 1,400-4,500 rpm was a bliss at every push of the pedal, and nobody would even think that this kind of power would come from such a tiny engine—more simply like Tom in his 5-foot-7 frame is surprisingly today’s biggest action star.
From Ford’s home in Taguig, we headed on to C5 before stretching the legs of this petite but potent critter in the straights of SLExand the Star Tollway. One need not rev in higher ranges, as peak torque was already made available at 1,400 rpm. Not to mention we squeezed in about 16 km/l on highway driving while playing “catch-up” with the more burly and bigger Ford Everest 3.2 Titanium Premium 4WD as our lead vehicle.
This simply showed how the powertrain skillfully juggles its cooling system, direct injection, turbo charger and variable cam-shaft timing to bring out the best in the vehicle. Even paired with a more conventional six-speed automatic transmission as Ford dropped the clunky PowerShift dual-clutch transmission, and we’re off to ride into the sunset.
And so, when we switched later on in the day from the Ecoboost to the heftier 1.5 mid-grade variant that logs out 121 hp at 6,500 rpm and 150 N-m of torque at 4,500 rpm (without turbo), the lower spec felt more like wandless Harry Potter on wheels.
Suave looks; spunky tech
The Ford EcoSport has been around the block since the early-2000s but has only been made available locally just four years ago. And like the Top Gun luminary, it has aged gracefully, particularly the Titanium variant. This writer was able to take a closer look at the model at the Laiya Adventure Park in Batangas— right before all hell broke loose.
This refreshed big shot gets a bolder and chiseled appearance that now comes with large hexagonal-style grill matched with HID headlights.
At its rear, a fresh spare tire cover highlights its panache while keeping the same taillights and foglight design. Putting icing to its swagger are 17-inch alloy wheels, which, sadly, lower variants don’t get to enjoy.
Inside, it now features softer plush materials and leather dashboard for a more comfortable cabin. The SYNC infotainment system is a plus, as it’s now on its third iteration, which provides convenience for both driver and passenger alike.
It also comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
No mission is impossible
Now that we had a better picture of this Westernised top dog, from gentle pen pushers we put on a more aggressive hat as adrenaline junkies taking on the challenge the event organisers laid out for us in the renowned adventure park—with reckless abandon. Like IMF agents in action, we painstakingly performed activities such as: rappelling, zip line, free fall and rock climbing, to name a few—all while racing against time. The said activities served as sheer analogies of the vehicle’s “street-smart” features, which send out a clear message that it is the perfect urban “can-do” vehicle and that with it, no mission is ever impossible.