By on July 18, 2012

Pressured by the Franco-Romanian Renault-Dacia Duster, Ford is using a pre-launch marketing gimmick to dust drum up interest in their newest offering in Brazil. The cute-ute is called EcoSport. Due to my duty to TTAC readers everywhere, I pledged to pay a deposit of US$2,500 in order to get a crack at the first 2,500 cars that will grace our streets.

Of course, I don’t intend to give them my hard-earned money. (They may count me as a hand-raiser.)

However, I went along in order to find out the price. At R$53,490 (roughly US$27,000), the new Ford is aimed squarely at the Duster. The higher initial asking price could have some prefer the Renault, but I’m pretty sure the car’s modernly handsome looks will give Ford some of the market (and quite possibly the lead) they lost to Renault. It will remain to be seen how many Brazilians will put up with the limitations inherent in this kind of car in order to get a jeepsy look. I’ll bet there will be many!

The car will come with Ford’s new Sigma line of engines. The cars you can buy now come with the Sigma 1.6 16v present in the American Fiesta (and built in Brazil), that produces 110 or 115 hp depending on whether you fill it up with the concoction known as Brazilian gasoline or ethanol. However, in a cruel twist in which Ford acknowledges our still emerging market and thus not-so-worthy status, for Brazil the engine is not fitted with variable valve lifting.

Initially, there will be two trim levels available, the S and the Freestyle. According to Brazilian enthusiast site bestcars.com.br, a 2.0 Titanium EcoSport will be added to the mix later.

So, what do you get by paying what Ford is asking for? For the S you get headlights with LEDs, bumpers painted the same color as the car (yes, the e-mail Ford sent me confirming my participation proudly announced this feature!), electric steering, A/C, power locks, (front) windows and side mirrors, voice-activated Sync system with Bluetooth, frontal airbags and ABS brakes. That’s it. The Freestyle adds for 3 thousand more dollars a visual Freestyle package (whatever that is, but that is how Ford is calling it), 16 inch alloy wheels, and a so-called technology package that includes: trip computer, parking sensors, 4 electric windows with one-touch, hill-holder, ESC and traction control. For a cool US$32,000 you get the Freestyle in its most advanced trim that includes 6 airbags, leather seats and not much else.

So, in stark contrast to the proclaimed One Ford global strategy, Ford is manning up to the reality of the world and offering the Escape/Kuga in Western Europe and the northernmost parts of North America, and the EcoSport pretty much everywhere else. Is this an early sign that the One Ford principle is already passé?

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26 Comments on “Ford EcoSport Pre-Launch: New Fiesta-Based Cute-Ute Is Out In The Third World Wild, But Will It Be The End Of The One World?...”


  • avatar
    roadscholar

    What is it with current Ford dashboards? My wife said it best after renting Fiestas and Focii, “I feel like I’m being attacked by the dash.”

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      The Focus dashboard is ridiculous. It ruins legroom and kneeroom on the passenger side especially. Our Focus has more front legroom than our GTI on paper (41.9 to 41.6), but in reality, the GTI has a ton more front legroom.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      The non-MFT radio is hideous, and Ford deserves to be punished for it.

      But back tot he article: I don’t see this as a failure of the One-Ford strategy any more than having both the Escape & the Edge (and the Explorer, …). Different cars for different segments. Having just spent some time in Brazil, I feel confident in saying that a vehicle as large (and expensive) as the Escape is not ideal for that market, and a smaller SUV would do much better, but an SUV based on the Fiesta wouldn’t do well in the US.

      Now, if they decided the US needed a tiny SUV and developed an all-new one just for the US and not based on the EcoSport, then they fail.

      • 0 avatar

        Well, yes and no. I get what you’re saying, but cars like these prove that a truly global car is almost impossible. Global that is if global includes lands other than those in North America, Western Europe and a few select others. By saying global Ford is just disappointing their fans in lands out if what Ford call global.

      • 0 avatar

        the Escape/Kuga could slot above the Ecosport and take some sales from current favorites of the Brazilian middle-class such as the ix35, Sportage and Captiva. there’s market for both SUV classes in Brazil so the Escape/Kuga it would sell like hot cakes as well.

      • 0 avatar

        @palandi,
        Rumors have abounded for years on the Kuga coming. I’m not holding my breath. For some reason the Kuga/Escape are reserved for first world. And I know the Kuga is on sale in Argentina and the Escape in Colombia, but why? Probably ’cause Ford wants to force the EcoSport on us and others like the Indians.

      • 0 avatar

        @Marcelo

        fully agreed. they’ll certainly have bigger profit margins, and the same explains the adoption of the same 2-liter powertrain for the next-gen Focus here, probably mated to the same 4-speed auto gearbox.

        I’d understand Ford’s strategy if they were still in charge of Land Rover, in order to avoid competition with the Freelander, but they’re not.

        on the flipside, Renault did the same with the Duster. they sell the Koleos in Argentina and Colombia but not here, and even the Nissan counterpart does not sell a midsized SUV in Brazil since they stopped bringing the unloved X-Trail a couple of years ago.

      • 0 avatar

        @palandi

        Watch for a Duster branded Nissan. Keep hearing rumors they’ll be here soon.

    • 0 avatar
      darex

      Therein is the number 1 reason why I’m now a Hyundai man, and NOT a Ford man. Ford’s dashboards are just plain silly. They’re weird for weird’s sake and they take up too much room, creating an overall feeling of claustrophobia. Furthermore, many of the controls and control stocks feel flimsy. Not so with Hyundai, whose dashes are tasteful, ergonomic, roomy and have a rock-solid build quality to them.

  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    So, basically, they’re now evolving toward a Two Fords strategy.

    Ford One: CANZUK + EU + USA
    Ford Two: everywhere else

    I guess that’s global enough, for now anyway. Still more efficient than where they started.

    • 0 avatar

      I think so and it puts Ford in a better postion to get the most sales they can in markets all over. The Kuga/Escape is probably too expensive to sell in any great number in Brazil. The EcoSport fits the bill fine. But by waiving the One Ford thing, I for one know people who won’t buy an EcoSport ’cause they’re waiting on the Kuga. This kind of customer does not usually settle on an EcoSport ’cause he tires of waiting, rather he moves on to another brand. If the Kuga was not dangled in his face, he might well settle on an EcoSport.

    • 0 avatar
      charly

      They could be doing a One-World VW strategy.

      Ford One: CANZ + EU + USA +JPZK
      Ford One(the old model): rest of the world

    • 0 avatar
      darex

      CANZUK. I like that. Very clever.

  • avatar
    moedaman

    Are you sure they’re not going to sell this vehicle in NA? Because I work in Sterling Heights, MI and see a couple of them (painted in b&w camo) parked at a nearbye office complex (n. of 15 Mile Rd on Mound Rd). They’ve been here since spring. They have to be this vehicle because when they are parked next to Fiesta’s they are the same length.

    • 0 avatar

      No, I’m not sure, but if I were a betting man I wouldn’t put my money on it. The previous EcoSport was seen more than a couple of times in America, which led to the same kind of speculation. I think they’re probably there for internal, developmental, engineering reasons. If they do make it though, the One Ford thing would be validated.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I see the B-Max rolling around Livonia, that could be what they have over there too.

    • 0 avatar
      faygo

      there are all manner of non-native, not-ever-gonna-be-sold-here, what-the-f*ck-is-that-doing-here vehicles in the Detroit area. some are just here for giggles, others have active portions of their development done here but will never be sold here. it might be for reasons as simple as the native market not having testing facilities or the critical mass of a particular engineering discipline available to execute the program.

      the Ecosport isn’t sold in the US or Europe, but being based on the Fiesta and sharing powertrains, it would not be impossible to federalize if there was demand. it’s a product specifically targeted at certain markets and just like not selling Taurus or F-series in Europe, Ecosport and B-max are not sold in the US. almost all brands sell selected vehicles in selected markets, no matter how “global” they are. as long as there are not redundant vehicles developed for different markets where the same product should be sold, there is no “failure” of One Ford or any other global product plan.

      the camo you’ve seen isn’t paint btw, it’s a vinyl wrap. it’s a PITA to remove and sometimes stays on vehicles long after they have been revealed officially. old prototypes get scrapped when their useful life is complete, but there’s no reason to spend time making them look good.

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        Whether a car is easy to federalize or not, it’s never an inexpensive process. I seriously doubt there’s enough market for a B-segment crossover in the US to justify it. Heck, when they brought over the Fiesta, they weren’t sure there was enough of a B-segment to justify that…

  • avatar

    Oi Marcelo
    In the outside it looks much better than the boxier Mini SUV previous version,now it looks more like a CUV, on the interiors, I totally agree on the dashboard, looks like designed by a videogame designer, and those silver plastics aren’t really classy at all, looks like the steering wheel has a mix of Plastic-Leather, or is it fake stitched leather?
    What a shame that they don’t offer the VVT-VVL engine, I guess it will be the same for Mexico, I beleive the 115HP will be just on the line of being underpowered, the key will be the Transmission.
    Let us know how it drives when you try it.
    Forte abraço!

  • avatar

    Hola J Mendez!

    Thanks for reading!

    The wheel does probably have some leather. Though if it’s real leather, who knows? :)

    The dashboard is not classy, agreed. But I guess it’s modern!

    As to design, it’s modern, I’ll give it that, and it looks like some mini Hyundai. With all the good and bad it entails. Saw it quickly in person, was not really convinced at first glance. The Duster, though simpler, looked wider and roomier. Do you get the Duster? As a Renault or as a Nissan?

    As to the drive, it probably drives a little worse than a new Fiesta. Afterall, miracles are hard to come by and it’s just a Fiesta on stilts.

    As to engine, that’s the onus we pay for living in our not-quite-worthy-yet developing nations.

    BTW, did the EcoSport make it to Mexico, or do you get the Escape?

    Abração!

  • avatar

    Oi de novo Marcelo!
    We have the Duster as Renault, and both the Escape and EcoSport, also we had the Tribute if you want the Escape with Mazda Badge.
    I saw the Duster and yes, it feels roomy on interiors, but the equipment and lacks safety features on the base model.
    The magazine Automóvil Panamericano made a test on compact SUVs and the Duster failed on several tests, all involving stability…(what a surprise huh). Renault is advertising it as “Tu primera camioneta” (Your first truck) well it is not really a truck, as with the EcoSport it is a jacked up car.
    http://www.ford.com.mx/home.asp#
    You can check here the complete lineup for Mexico, mouse over Todos and will see.
    As for the engine, I think it is because of the low and not very homogeneus quality of our Latin American Gasolines.
    Abraço!

    • 0 avatar

      In Brazil they market the Duster as ‘welcome to the real SUV-world’! Ridiculous! BTW, the Duster is the same here.

      As to VVT, sorry! It’s cost cutting and greed. The Hondas and Toyotas have it here, as does Fiat (after a fashion). So it’s not an insurmountable hurdle to jump.

      BTW, the Mexican Nissan March and Versa are all sold here. No more imports though as quotas have been reached. Nissan is building a facotry here to circumvent this situation. Ford is also adapting the Bahia Brazil plant to not only produce the new EcoSport and also the New Fiesta. Seems Brazil is circuling the wagons against Mexican imports. So sad!

      Grande abraço!

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I doubt we’ll get the ecosport in the US. I can see a Ford executive shouting no, no,no, a thousand times no! It would cut into Escape sales. Another guy down the hall won’t let the new Ranger into the US. It might cut into F-150 sales you see.

  • avatar
    outback_ute

    It is rumoured that the Ecosport will be sold in Australia, which is interesting as there aren’t really any sub CRV/X-Trail/ix35 CUV’s sold here although we did get the Daihatsu Terios years ago.


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