DRIVEN: 2021 Ford EcoSport Black offers loads of character and capability
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JOHANNESBURG - To ensure that its best-selling EcoSport compact crossover remains top-of-mind amongst Mzansi’s consumers, Ford has launched a fresh EcoSport Black variant. The Ford Ecosport Black comes to town with black-out 16-inch alloy wheels, black mirror caps, a black grille, black roof rails and roof, and black skid inserts with black decal kit. It seems to be the right thing to do, as there's this growing trend to add darker grilles, mirrors and badges to vehicles. Just take a look at the premium segment, where manufacturers will gladly charge you more money for a couple of black badges and some darker mirrors caps...
The Ford EcoSport Black is fitted with a 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated TiVCT (twin-cam) petrol engine which is good for 91kW and 151Nm. Peak power hits home at 6500rpm and peak torque comes in around 4500rpm, which means you have to rev it out if you plan on making haste, but it's a nicely refined engine (for a three-cylinder) and it doesn't sound too strained when revving out during overtaking or under hard acceleration. With two adults and a kid, and a trunk full of luggage, I had no challenges keeping up with traffic on the M1, N1 and N4 highways to the Pilanesberg. I did find, however, that the six-speed autobox hunted too much at times, trying to find the right gear for the incline or descent. The car would be much nicer if it were fitted with paddle shifters on the steering wheel, not for sportiness, but for usability to enable you as the driver to pre-select the gear you need in particular instances.
Ford claims that the EcoSport Black sips unleaded at a rate of 6.9l/100km while emitting 159g/km of carbon dioxide in a combined cycle. On the highway, I was able to achieve this figure, but the moment speeds increased the vehicle sucked a little more juice. I ended my near 1000km test drive in the EcoSport Black with an overall fuel consumption figure of 7.9l/100km, which is respectable considering some of the dirt roads we had to traverse which saw a lot of time in the lower gears, accelerating and braking, which really doesn't help in the fuel economy stakes. Nevertheless, when it comes to the impact on your pocket, you will be pleased with the EcoSport Black's fuel consumption figures if you drive with a sensible right foot.
The EcoSport Black proved to be comfortable enough for our journey, thanks to ample interior space, decent air-conditioning and the built-in Ford Sync Bluetooth and Voice-Controlled Multimedia system. I would have liked a more prominent touch screen type set-up here, particularly in the EcoSport Black as it's kind of a special model in the line-up, but it all worked well enough and the speakers fitted to the car are actually decent enough to enjoy your favourite Apple Music or Spotify playlists loud and without distortion. I find that too many of the imported models, vehicles from all brands, that come from India offer shoddy speaker packages. Not so in the EcoSport Black as the thumping quality from the speaker system really makes the cabin a nice place for long journeys. The EcoSport Black's seats are comfortable too, the view from the driver's seat is respectable and there aren't glaring blind spots to get used to. Overall, it's a genuinely fun car to drive and if you don't mind a vehicle that enjoys revs to get going, this is certainly something you should explore when you're out tyre-kicking.
It's important to note that Ford hasn't skimped on the safety front with the EcoSport Black as it's fitted with dual front airbags, side airbags and curtain airbags. It also comes as standard with anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control and brake assist functionality. I was really pleased that I could secure my child's seat in the rear using the easy-to-use ISOFIX anchor points. I could also move the front passenger seat forward enough to give him enough legroom, without compromising the front seat passenger's comfort too much. Child-proof rear door locks also came in handy and they are standard in this model. Other features, such as remote central locking and follow me home headlamps are standard too, which is really nice, but I would have appreciated a full-LED light package on the EcoSport Black. The halogen units work well enough, but they are dated and they were a challenge to use at night for me. At least, Ford has included LED daytime running lights, which look very cool and add to the safety credential of the vehicle.
With 333 litres of boot space on offer, enough space for five adults or two adults and two kids in child seats, the EcoSport Black really is a compelling vehicle in the highly popular compact crossover segment. It has been with us for a while now, but Ford has been constantly refining it to ensure it keeps up with the likes of the KIA Sonets of this world. I found the EcoSport Black to offer decent ground clearance for driving on dirt roads in game parks and on plots, and getting in and out of the car is also a cinch thanks to wide door apertures. The side-hinged tailgate took some getting used to for me, and it might be a slight challenge for you depending on your garage or parking situation but it isn't a deal breaker. If I were in the market for something in the compact crossover segment I would rate the EcoSport Black very high on my 'want' list, but there is tough competition from that aforementioned KIA Sonet and other vehicles from Hyundai and Suzuki and Toyota.
Currently priced at around R340 000 the Ford Ecosport Black comes with a four-year/120 000km warranty, a four-year/60 000km Service Plan, three year's worth of Road Side Assistance and a five-year anti-corrosion warranty. The only option that you can get from the factory on an EcoSport Black is Metallic Paint. Contact your nearest Ford dealer for pricing and availability.