Ford describes their funky little EcoSport powerhouse as “Designed for the urban jungle. Built to escape it.” And escape the city was exactly what we did when we took this stylish but compact SUV to the bush last weekend…

Ford EcoSports are lined up at every shopping mall in the country, and in every school parking lot. They’re the quintessential mom’s taxi – after all they can hold everything from golf clubs to hockey sticks, art projects, and even the family dog – for families with three children or fewer.

The EcoSport has fabulous ground clearance too (206mm), so the kids can type on their phones without noticing that you’re going over a speed bump or pothole (amazing what becomes important to families with tweens and teens).

 

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Not-so-incidentally, there are two USB ports in the front of the car as well as car charger ports on the sides of the rear seats so everyone can charge their phones and play their music.

Speaking of music, Apple Car Play was the feature that sold this SUV

“CarPlay is a safe way to use your iPhone in the car. It takes the things you want to do with your iPhone while driving and puts them on your car’s built-in display. You can get directions, make calls, send and receive messages, and listen to music, all in a way that allows you to stay focused on the road” – apple.com

If you don’t have an iPhone, don’t despair: Ford’s SYNC®3 system is available on all EcoSports for hands-free control of your favourite apps via Android Auto4 or Applink too.

The 1.0 litre Trend 6 we tested offers a 6.5” colour Touchscreen, Bluetooth®, Voice Control, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, and x2 USB ports with iPod functionality. (The Titanium model has a slightly bigger 8-inch screen and also features turn-by-turn navigation.)

 

But back to the vehicle itself…

We wanted to find out if the Ford EcoSport is as good on the open road and in the bush as it is on the school route.

We drove the EcoBoost 1.0 litre Trend 6 Automatic from Durban to Hluhluwe and into the bush to get to our destination: Bayala Private Safari Lodge and Camp.

We REALLY got to test the ground clearance that Ford brags about when we had to navigate relentless rain and a turn-off onto gravel that was so drenched by the flash flood on the KZN north coast that water reached bonnet height on some of the smaller cars we passed!

The EcoSport sailed through the test (almost literally) and emerged unscathed. And when we turned off the tar and onto the 10kms of gravel road to reach our destination, there was no difference in the comfort of the off-road drive compared to the highway.

In fact the wide design of the vehicle and solid feel of the doors provided sturdy road holding and reassurance in the face of possible elephant encounters (a frustrated bull elephant in musth caused one of the other visitors to refuse to venture further than the gate in their mid-sized sedan and they had to be collected by a ranger in a game vehicle).

Our metallic grey (Smoke) EcoBoost was so cute to look at that my daughter was convinced that the elephants would mistake it for a baby ellie – and we’d be safe.

Cute AND capable – that’s our verdict!

We put the EcoSport through flash floods, gravel road and the threat of wild animals and it coped with it all, proving that this SUV is capable of being so much more than an urban mom’s taxi.

The 6-speed automatic gearbox didn’t make it guzzle gas – we got about 600kms from the 52 litre tank and fuel consumption averaged about 8 litres per 100kms.

About the EcoBoost petrol engine

Ford’s 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine has won International Engine of the Year “Best Engine Under 1.0-litre” for six years in a row, and the new 1.0-litre EcoBoost features innovative cylinder deactivation technology for further reduced CO2 emissions and improved fuel-efficiency

Standard features that we loved  on our EcoBoost 1.0 litre Trend 6 Automatic

  • Airbags – dual front, side, curtain and driver’s knee
  • Drive away locking
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Front and rear fog lamps
  • Cooled glove box

But test one for yourself – we’re sure you’ll fall in love too: Find your nearest Ford dealer here

Sasha Wyatt-Minter drove the Ford EcoSport for four days for the purpose of a motoring review.