DRIVING the 2014 Ford EcoSport 1.5 Titanium: Good Things Come In Small Packages

Over the years, we’ve seen Ford Group Philippines announce month after month a new sales record. Considered as one of the fastest growing car brands in our market, Ford, it seems, doesn’t want that streak to end by releasing this, the Ford EcoSport. The Ford EcoSport is the first mini crossover SUV in the Philippine market. A first generation model was released in 2003 exclusively for the South American market, and proved to be very popular, but it seems Nissan started the global trend for the mini SUV with their Juke. This changed the public’s interests in car ownership and has pushed car manufacturers to create a car that fits in a congested urban environment, yet has the ground clearance, tall ride height, water wading capability, and flexibility of an SUV. This rendered other manufacturers to come up with a mini SUV to satisfy that growing demand, and ultimately, eat out the sales of each other. Being the first mini crossover SUV in the Philippines, does the Ford EcoSport have the guts to be a trendsetter and a benchmark in our market?

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Exterior

The Ford EcoSport, like all mini crossover SUVs, is based on a subcompact platform. In this case, it uses the Ford Fiesta’s platform. It has a 200mm. ground clearance and a water wading depth of 550mm. As a result, it has a body that can be easily described as tall and short. Dimensions that a Japanese domestic market kei car would normally posses. Styling elements include a character line that sweeps from the front wheel arch, up to the rear, discrete LED Daytime Running Lights in the headlamps, plastic cladding to further strengthen its rugged character, and an in-your-face grille that begs to be seen by passer-bys. Its front fascia will certainly split opinions, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I am one with the crowd that thinks this is a good-looking front fascia. Go through the rear, and you will immediately notice its exterior spare tire. I am not a fan of rear spare tires, as this will render the trunk almost useless when a car or wall is behind you, since the doors on cars with door-mounted spare tires are hinged at the sides. It reminds me of the first generation Toyota RAV4, back when it used to be really small. Go figure.

Interior

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People who are familiar with the Fiesta will adapt easily to its interior. Even the mobile phone inspired center console seems to be lifted from the said subcompact. It is a cabin that is stylish to look at, with creases and lines that keep the environment lively. Blue accent lighting in the LCD between the gauges, climate control, some of the buttons, and the central display for the multimedia controls create a modern feel in the cockpit of the EcoSport. The sunroof is a welcome feature in this category, and this feature, I certainly dig, as I am a fan of sunroofs.

Space and Practicality

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There are plenty of adjustments in the seat and the steering wheel to suit almost any body style. Thankfully, full-size adults will fit comfortably in the rear, because unlike the Ford Fiesta, where the EcoSport is based, legroom and headroom are both good. The ceiling height is a bit low in the forward end of the second row because this top spec Titanium model has a sunroof, so do take note of that. When designing the EcoSport, Ford has thoughtfully placed a lot of cubby spaces in the cabin, with a generous glove box, cupholders in the doors, a place to put your glasses, and a cleverly designed underseat storage bin. Be sure not to forget where you last placed your items alright?

Features

If there is one thing we can all immediately agree on every vehicle that Ford is selling here in the Philippines, it is their generous equipment levels. All models come with ISOFIX Child Seat Fixings, Courtesy Lights, Multi-Function Display, Heated Rear Windows, Welcome Home/Leaving Home Lights, Halogen Headlamps with LED Daytime Accent Lights, and Dual Airbags. This top-spec Titanium variant gets more sophisticated kit, including a Smart Key Access System with Push Button Start, Sunrooof, Auto Dimming Rear View Mirror, Rain Sensing Wipers, Automatic Headlamps, ABS with EDB and Hill Launch Assist, Lumbar Support for the seats, Automatic Climate Control, and Ford’s SYNC with Bluetooth and Voice Command. It also comes with leather seats, giving it a more upmarket and luxurious feel.

Powertrain

Powering the Ford EcoSport is the same 1.5 liter Ti-VCT engine from the 2013 Ford Fiesta, producing 108 hp at 6,300 rpm, and 142 Nm of torque at 4,500 rpm. Power is delivered exclusively through the front wheels via Ford’s Powershift 6-Speed Dual-Clutch Transmission.

How It Drives

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The Alabang landscape is congested today, supposedly the perfect place to test the EcoSport since the city is its intended environment. I’m assuming the traffic is really bad because the EcoSport, upon handing over the car to me by the previous driver, registered a fuel consumption of only *4.5 km/l. Thankfully, in order to escape from the horrible traffic, I was permitted to drive at locations in Alabang where there were less to no vehicles at all, and as I searched for an open road, fuel consumption improved significantly at 7-8.5 km/l in mixed stop and go traffic and short open road driving.

Being based from the Ford Fiesta would mean that the EcoSport is fun to drive, and it is. Don’t let its dimensions fool you. Despite the tall body, the EcoSport is very agile and has a plenty of grip. It stays planted in the corners, even if there is more body roll compared to the Fiesta, but that is a given, since the chassis now carries a bigger body. Steering is really precise, and you really notice the nose of the car following each of the driver’s commands. The Ford EcoSport then, can be considered a driver’s car. It begs to be driven hard on winding country roads. Too bad I can’t take this to Tagaytay, because this car is really a hoot to drive. The engine is responsive, but the 1.5 liter engine does run out a bit of steam at higher speeds and at higher rpms. With many international reviews citing a 0-100 km/h acceleration  of 12-13 seconds for this 1.5 liter EcoSport, drag racing isn’t the EcoSport’s strong point, but it shouldn’t be, as this car is designed for the urban environment.

Calm your foot down, and the car, despite the sporty credentials, cruises really well. The whole car is very refined, with a compliant ride, and a cabin that is well insulated from road and wind noise. The cabin is so quiet and refined, it almost feels like driving a car from a class above. Passengers will easily fall asleep on long journeys. The EcoSport then, is a fun to drive car, that can easily eat up the miles of highway driving in relative comfort and serenity. Also, because of the tall ride height, the EcoSport does have an advantage when it comes to visibility and how it handles rougher terrain and speed bumps. Perfect for our city streets that are ridden with potholes, and the occasional flooding brought by rains.

On The Downside

My amount of enjoyment when driving the EcoSport in an open road is inversely proportional with my amount of enjoyment when driving the EcoSport in the city. I just can’t help but think if the Ford EcoSport would be better off with a conventional torque-converter automatic transmission. While driving in the city, it keeps on changing from 1st to 2nd at random times, and don’t get me started with the amount of jerks I experienced while it was doing that in the city. The transmission is so dimwittedly confused, it even jerks when you simply want to make the car crawl like how a conventional torque-converter automatic would do in situations like, looking for a parking spot. To be fair though, dual-clutch transmissions, especially the ones in supercars almost have a similar feel while in the city, and Ford’s Powershift could be easily forgiven if it also does what a dual-clutch transmission is good at. Lightning-fast shifts, but then, it doesn’t shift that fast. The dual-clutch Transmissions from Volkswagen are a bit smoother, if not as jerky, yet upshifts and downshifts are really quick.

There are also a few points to talk about the EcoSport’s interior. It is similar from the Fiesta, so whatever downsides I had with the Fiesta’s interior remained in the EcoSport. The quality of the plastics are fine, but at some places, there are plastics that feel really cheap. Build quality isn’t consistent either, with some switchgear that feels flimsy and may easily break off. There are also areas that have really noticeable and inconsistent panel gaps too.

Interior space is another aspect of the EcoSport to talk about. Though I did say that even tall people will be comfortable in the rear, having a third person sit in the middle may be a bit of a squeeze. Trunk space is also small at 346 liters, easily dwarfed by the even smaller Honda Jazz. Fold the rear seats down, and that increases to 705 liters, which is still smaller than what the Honda Jazz can offer.

Verdict

Get onto the driver’s seat, and all these negatives are immediately thrown out of the window. The EcoSport will beg you to drive the car. It is very fun to drive and has the refinement to match larger vehicles. Combine it with the generous loads of equipment for the price, and the small EcoSport will definitely be the next big Ford. Oh! I did forget to mention the price. Starting at P775,000 for the base 1.5 Ambiente MT, the Ford EcoSport, like all other Fords, is excellent value for money. This top-of-the-range Titanium tops out at P975,000, and when I conducted a survey to some of my friends, they actually thought it costs more than what the actual price suggests, with most of them guessing that it costs around P1,000,000. Ford Group Philippines then, I think you accomplished your mission. Creating a car that is perfect for the modern day urban dweller. A small car that leaves a huge footprint. It is a car in a class of its own, for now.

More Photos

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Rating

Exterior Design: ★★★★☆

Interior Design: ★★★★☆

Interior Quality: ★★☆☆☆

Features: ★★★★★

Acceleration: ★★★☆☆

Handling: ★★★★☆

Comfort: ★★★★☆

Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★☆

Value For Money: ★★★★★

OVERALL: 3.88 / 5

See Also:

2012 Honda Civic 1.8 EXI

2012 Hyundai Elantra 1.6 GL AT

2013 Mitsubishi Montero Sport GLS-V 4×2 AT

2013 Chevrolet Trailblazer LTZ 4×4 AT

2013 Mazda 6 AT

2014 Mazda CX-5 2.5 AWD Sport

2014 Toyota Vios 1.5 G AT

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25 thoughts on “DRIVING the 2014 Ford EcoSport 1.5 Titanium: Good Things Come In Small Packages”

    1. The EcoSport and Alterra aren’t actually in the same category. This is a mini SUV, even smaller than the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester, and the like. Its only 4 meters long, just as long as the Ford Fiesta, the car it is based on.

  1. “The Ford EcoSport is the first mini crossover SUV in the Philippine market, and the second in the world after the Nissan Juke. ”
    This is actually the 2nd generation EcoSport, the 1st generation EcoSport was launched in 2003, way before the 1st Juke concept.
    The 1st gen EcoSport was displayed here when Ford Philippines held their Ford Centennial Motorshow in Makati back in 2003, other Ford cars on display was the previous generation Fiesta, Ford Lynx Centennial Edition (black RS) and the 1st gen Everest.

  2. Hi, I don’t know if my question makes sense, pero ano ang mas fuel efficient? Trend MT or the AT versions? I am torn between Chevy Spin and this Ecosport. Can you also give me advise on why choose or not to choose Ecosport over Spin? As of this day, You were the only that drove this car and gave a review. Thanks!

    1. The Trend AT does not use a typical torque-converter automatic transmission. Rather, it uses a dual-clutch semi-automatic transmission. Its more of a self-shifting manual transmission, since it does not possess the “crawl” feature found on conventional automatics. On paper, the “AT” is more fuel-efficient, because of the millisecond shifts, but I still haven’t verified the difference in fuel consumption in real world tests. If I were to pick between the EcoSport vs. the Spin, I’d rather go for the EcoSport, because of the added equipment and refinement. The Spin has 7 seats, but since I don’t need 7 seats in the first place, then the EcoSport is my choice. It all actually depends on your needs.

  3. Hi, am really torn between the EcoSport Titanium or the Fiesta EcoBoost. I’m favoring the EcoSport because of the higher clearance and water wading plus the better leg room at the backseat but I just can’t help but think twice because of the EcoBoost’s fuel efficiency and power (plus it’s almost a 100K cheaper). Any thoughts? Do the difference in numbers really count in terms of “real-life” situations? I haven’t actually test-driven any of the two although I hope I can try them one of these days. Thanks.

    1. To tell you the truth, the EcoBoost isn’t really very fuel efficient. Real-world fuel economy figures are almost on par with the standard 1.5 Ti-VCT engine, albeit more powerful. Think of it as the Fiesta’s performance variant rather than a fuel-efficient one, and with the Fiesta EcoBoost priced at P898k, the EcoSport starts to make much more sense. If space and versatility matters to you, then the EcoSport is the better choice, but if you’ll be driving alone most of the time, and don’t need the high ground clearance and flood wading capacity of the EcoSport, then you can at least save some money by getting the Fiesta EcoBoost, and yet have a car that is also faster to drive.

  4. Hi sir im interested to buy ecosport but my main concern is
    The fuel consumption…city driving lang kse ako and i know consumes
    More fuel…traffic situation here in davao is not that heavy or
    Should i say medium…im also considering The new Honda
    city..by the way, ford says fuel consumption for AT
    Is 12-14km/lt

    1. Overall, the fuel consumption of the EcoSport is good, if not as fuel efficient as the Fiesta, since they both have the same engine, yet this engine carries more weight because of the bigger body. 12-14 km/l in city seems too optimistic. 8-10 km/l is a more more realistic figure, but then, it could be my driving habits. My best advice is to test drive the EcoSport as well, since we may have different driving habits that affect fuel consumption. Hope this helps. :)

    1. If you don’t need the tall ride height and the bigger body of a small SUV, then I heavily recommend the new Mazda 3 1.5V. It may carry a small engine, but it is surprisingly more exciting to drive than the 2.0R. My review of both the 2.0R and 1.5V will be written soon, so you might want to check that out as well. :)

    1. The Titanium has more equipment than the Trend. These features include a smart proximity key with smart entry and push button start, sunroof, automatic climate control, leather seats with lumbar support, 12 V rear power outlets, electrochromic auto dimming rear-view mirror, and Hill Start Assist.

  5. Hello,
    My name is Stevie and I recently got married. My wife and I plan to get a car next year. We want to have a car before she gets pregnant. This early, i have been doing my research already (which my wife thinks im “OA” because i even have an excel file for it – since this is a big purchase i dont think its OA). I have trimmed it to 3 cars: Fiesta Ecoboost, Ecosport Trend or Honda City VX. We value fuel efficiency, safety, comfort and resale value. Can you recommend the best car that will suit our needs? Appreciate your help on this one. Thanks and have a good one!

    1. Sorry for the late reply on this one. I would like to ask, is this going to be your only car, or do you have another one? If this will be your second car, then the Ford Fiesta EcoBoost will be perfect, since it has the least interior space among your three choices.

      If you are looking for your first/only car, the City or EcoSport is a better choice since I presume you’d be having a child in the near future. The new City, along with the Almera, has the best legroom in its segment, which is almost as big as the Corolla’s, a vehicle on a bigger class bracket. The Ford EcoSport, while having more passenger space compared to the Fiesta, which it is based on, suffers from a really small boot, if boot space will be your priority. However, the EcoSport’s jacked up suspension means that it won’t easily throw in the towel when floods occur on our roads.

      In terms of safety, the previous City, along w/ the Fiesta, earned a maximum 5-stars in our ASEAN NCAP crash tests. Meanwhile, in the Euro NCAP, the Fiesta earned a maximum 5-stars, while the EcoSport earned only 4-stars, because of low scores when the EcoSport hits a pedestrian.

      In terms of fuel efficiency, the EcoSport is the least fuel efficient among your three choices, since it uses the Fiesta’s 1.5 liter engine, therefore it needs more work in carrying the added bulk of the EcoSport. However, for the kind of vehicle the EcoSport is, its fuel consumption isn’t terrible.

      My best bet overall would be the Honda City VX, since it offers the best combination of fuel efficiency, space, comfort, and will hold its value really well, but if you need a taller (not bigger) vehicle, I can also recommend the Ford EcoSport Trend. Consider the Ford Fiesta EcoBoost as a higher performance option among your choices. Hope this helps, and happy shopping. :)

    2. I guess you need to try the “Car Buyer’s Guide” of Autoindustriya.com. It lets you compare 3 different cars. This way you can get rid of the excel. I’ve been using it to compare chevrolet spin and ford ecosport.

    1. It would mostly depend on your needs. Overall, the Ford EcoSport is the better choice because for something similarly priced to a Toyota Yaris 1.5G AT, you essentially get a bigger car that even has the capability to traverse waters of up to 500 mm deep.

      1. Thank you. :) problem with the EcoSport is the long line.. :( people reserved last January are still waiting :( hoping to get one in Makati though :) thank you again :)

  6. just want to ask, “why cant you take it to tagaytay becuasue its hoot to drive” just dont uderstanrd the statement hehe.

  7. nice. thought i cant handle the steepness of tagaytay haha. i bought my wife a ecopsport. will release today. :) nice review though.

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