Future Models - Ford 2012 EcoSport
Ford’s Aussie-Indian Fiesta crossover surfaces
Red high-rider: The locally-developed Ford EcoSport budget crossover SUV looks set for Australian showrooms. Image credit: Car and Driver Brazil, Joćo Kleber Amaral.
Fiesta-based ‘EcoSport’ SUV to become one of four Ford SUVs in local Oz showrooms
6 December 2011
FORD’S Australian-developed baby SUV looks to have broken cover in India, where it will be built, ahead of its global debut at next month’s New Delhi motor show.
Official teaser images of the all-new Fiesta-based mini-crossover inadvertently published on Ford’s Indian public website and published by IndianCarsBikes.in appear to confirm as legitimate images previously seen in India, China, Brazil and the United States.
Ford’s budget high-rider – which reports say will be called the EcoSport in India and China – will join a growing list of SUVs in Australian showrooms, where it will be positioned below the compact Focus-based Kuga that finally joins the Australian-made Territory here in March.
Ultimately, these three vehicles are expected to be joined by another SUV developed by Ford Australia, the rugged T6 Ranger-based, Thai-built off-roader that will reportedly be called the Endeavor, at least in some markets.
The new entry-level crossover – codename B515 – will give Ford a weapon against the new breed of compact SUVs such as Subaru’s upcoming XV, the Skoda Yeti, Mitsubishi ASX, Nissan Dualis and Suzuki SX4, as well as the Chinese-made Chery J11.
From top: Ford Endeavor, Figo, Fiesta and B-Max.
Indian reports say the new EcoSport – a nameplate used since 2003 for a mid-size SUV based on the Fusion and built in Brazil for South American markets, in which it has been a regular top-five seller overall – will be built on the global Fiesta platform when it goes into production in Chennai in 2012.
China’s auto.sohu.com – which has published images of a red EcoSport that are identical to those seen on CarAndDriver.com, as well as a silver version on AutoCarIndia.com and a white model on Brazil’s Autoesporte.com.br – says several EcoSport prototypes have been spied in China, where it will make its national debut at the 2012 Beijing motor show in April. Brazil’s version is also expected to be revealed publicly within months.
As GoAuto reported in October, Ford has confirmed that a new compact vehicle to be revealed at the 2012 New Delhi Auto Expo on January 5 will be sold in Australia.
Ford Australia has declined to disclose details of the vehicle, but GoAuto understands a large part of the development has been done in Ford Australia’s Victorian engineering centres at Campbellfield and Geelong – the “go-to guys” of Ford global engineering.
As we have also reported, Ford Australia – which also designed the all-new Ranger ute built in Thailand and Ford of India’s top-selling Figo – is leading the development of a still-secret light car for China and it now appears likely that Ford’s Australian arm is engineering volume-selling small cars for the world’s two most populous nations.
The EcoSport should be more sophisticated than the five-door Figo hatchback based on the previous fifth-generation Fiesta that debuted in Europe in 2002.
Unlike the recycled, dumbed-down Figo, which has been a red-hot hit in India and about 20 other developing countries, the new vehicle is based on the Fiesta’s latest B2E B-segment platform, which was co-developed with Mazda, and has been designed and engineered to cater for more demanding markets, such as Australia where five-star safety is a given and Euro 4 emissions mandatory.
The images show the EcoSport will share a number of styling features with the Fiesta – a move that would give the little SUV a family resemblance with the Thai-built Fiesta sedan and five-door hatchback already on sale in Australia.
And in keeping with its SUV identity, the sub-four-metre wagon gets a higher stance, bigger wheels, flared wheelarches and – in its final production guise – a spare wheel mounted on the tailgate, but there is no mention of all-wheel drive.
The Ford of India images show the EcoSport will be powered by a new EcoBoost direct-injection turbo-petrol engine of an unknown capacity. This could be the just-released three-cylinder 1.0-litre version that stumps up at least 75kW and 200Nm of torque, or perhaps the 110kW/240Nm 1.6-litre four-cylinder variant.
The EcoSport, or whatever it is called here, will be the first Indian-made Ford sold in Australia, where Suzuki and Hyundai pioneered the route with the Alto and i20 city cars.
While the Ford EcoSport is set to be revealed in New Delhi within a month, the Ranger-based SUV is likely to lob at the Bangkok motor show in late March ahead of a late-2012 rollout in Australia, where it will go head to head with the new Thai-made Holden Colorado 7, Nissan Pathfinder, Mitsubishi Challenger and Toyota Prado.