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Ford confirms refreshed EcoSport for Australia

Face up: Ford’s European version of the facelifted EcoSport gets a variant with sporty ST-Line treatment that is yet to be confirmed as part of the revamped range due in Australia late this year.

Late 2017 launch planned for facelifted Ford EcoSport, but details under wraps

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Ford logo6 Sep 2017

By RON HAMMERTON

FORD’S slow-selling EcoSport small SUV is set to get a major makeover that includes a fresh Ford family look, improved connectivity and – potentially – new more powerful and more economical petrol engine.

Revealed in its European guise overnight, the 2017 EcoSport is due to touch down in Australia from Ford’s Indian factory late this year, giving Ford Australia a chance to reinvigorate its compact SUV sales that are down 22.5 per cent this year.

The facelift is the first significant change for the Fiesta-based EcoSport in Australia since it was launched here in November 2013 as a competitor for the likes of the Mazda CX-3, Mitsubishi ASX, Honda HR-V, Subaru XV and Holden Trax.

So far, Ford is yet to confirm details of the changes for this market, but the exterior and interior design revamp is a lock.

The re-design brings the styling of EcoSport into line with the recently updated Escape mid-sized SUV and upcoming Edge large SUV that is due to replace the locally made Territory in Australia in the first half of 2018.

The EcoSport loses the exposed rear-mounted spare wheel in favour of an internal unit. Other external changes include a new-look trapezoidal grille and revamped headlights in a cluster that includes LED daytime running lights.

The rear end has also been tidied up with a revised rear bumper and re-designed tail-lights.

One of the biggest changes is the dash where the old Fiesta unit has been scrapped for an all-new set-up that, for the first time, can handle the latest 8.0-inch touchscreen with Ford’s SYNC3 connectivity including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A digital display is also included in the instrument binnacle.

A rear-view camera, automatic headlights and rain-sensitive wipers are also now available on some specifications, in the European version at least.

Safety has been improved with blind spot warning and new side airbags that provide more body protection.

The European version of EcoSport that is sourced from Romania gets an advanced all-wheel-drive system and Ford’s new 1.5-litre EcoBlue diesel engine, but the Australian offering will likely stick with front-wheel drive and a pair of petrol powerplants.

It is unclear if Australia will get the rumoured new Indian-made 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine – codenamed Dragon – that replaces the ageing Duratech 82kW/140Nm 1.5-litre petrol engine in the sub-continent.

In that market, this engine will be paired with a choice of manual or automatic transmissions.

The alternative petrol engine – the acclaimed 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost – is currently offered only with a five-speed manual gearbox. However, an automatic transmission for the 92kW/170Nm 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine is now available overseas and could be added to the Australian line-up to improve its appeal.

In the United States, where the EcoSport is going on sale for the first time this year, a 2.0-litre petrol four-cylinder engine is being offered as an alternative to the three-pot turbo engine.

This is also a possibility for Australia, but either way, we are betting the Duratech engine will be replaced with a newer engine, at least in one or two variants.

Less certain is Ford of Europe’s new sporty ST-Line EcoSport variant that adds a bodykit, black trim on items such as the roof, grille and mirrors, and 17-inch dark-finished alloy wheels.

Sales wise, the EcoSport has been bumping along at about 100 units a month, relegating it to 10th place behind segment leaders such as the Mitsubishi ASX and Mazda CX-3 which so far this year have sold 12,259 and 11,931 units respectively.

The current three-specification range starts with the Ambiente at $20,790 plus-on-road costs, but Ford dealers are offering it at $19,990 drive away.

The flagship 1.5-litre Titanium automatic – usually $27,790 plus on-roads – is $26,490 driveaway.

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