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Ford fishes for fresh, baby SUV

2012-01-04 23:57

SPORTY AND ECONOMICAL: Ford's EcoSport was mobbed at its reveal ahead of the 2012 Auto Expo in New Delhi, India. The new compact SUV will be sold in South Africa.

HAILEY PHILANDER

NEW DELHI, India - Ford has revealed the design study for its striking EcoSport model to thumping audiovisuals here ahead of its global show debut at the Auto India Expo, starting January 5, 2012.

The all-new EcoSport compact SUV (or high-riding hatchback, similar to as Suzuki's SX4 or Daihatsu's dinky Terios 4x4) rides on the current Ford Fiesta platform but it definitely looks more imposing than its roots would suggest.

Ford’s global design chief, J Mays, describes the EcoSport as “not your typical SUV".

“It’s an urban SUV designed especially for developing markets. A large focus of the EcoSport will be its value-for-money,” May added.

Since the EcoSport makes use of the regular Fiesta platform it will be front-wheel drive only - no 4x4 option. It features an SUV-like high ride height and off-roader design cues with its more rugged appearance and a spare wheel attached to the rear swing hatch.

COMING TO SA - SOMETIME...

This new Ford will be made available in South Africa when it goes on sale but, according to Ford SA, there’s no news yet of when that will happen.

The car will be assembled in India, Brazil and Thailand, although two additional assembly facilities will be announced in due course.

The EcoSport is, however, designed to be more robust with a stiffer chassis, reinforced body and higher torsional rigidity to deal with less-than-perfect roads in the growing markets where the car has been earmarked for sale. 

One EcoSport feature that will prove particularly interesting is its debut of an innovativem all-new, three-cylinder Ford EcoBoost engine.

ECOBOOST COMING


The smallest EcoBoost engine yet is a one-litre, three-cylinder, turbocharged petrol unit with direct fuel-injection. According to Joe Hinrichs, the engine will produce 90kW and 170Nm (from 1300-4500rpm) while emitting less than 140g/km of CO2. 

The EcoSport is not new to the Ford portfolio; the first generation model went on sale in South America in 2003 although the all-new version is in line with the automaker’s One Ford global identity. Since the original trailblazer was spawned in Brazil – roughly 700 000 units were sold there in the past nine years – the latest project was again led by Ford Brazil's development centre using input gained from markets around the world. 

The compact B-segment car is expected to provide the bulk of Ford's growth through 2015; it is expected to sell more than two-million by then. According to Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford Asia Pacific and Africa, the automaker also plans to release 50 new vehicles and powertrains to the region during that time.

Leading the wave, Ford’s all-new EcoSport small SUV will have its global show debut at India’s Auto Expo in New Delhi on January 5, 2012.
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