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?