When it comes to cars, the young professionals have always been a slippery demographic companies have tried to capture by any means possible—they will soon be in the market for pricier midlife-crisis vehicles, after all. Some brands became best-selling cars by adopting the youthful “free love” kids. Other brands launched an irreverent marketing campaign with dancing hamsters. And one brand poured good money into esports. (What’s that? Ask a teen.) And now Ford hopes to grab a slice of the emoji pie with its hip new EcoSport compact crossover.
Ever since the model came out in 2013, I was never a fan. Everyone has a car or truck they hate – the EcoSport was mine.
I admit, my perception was irrational and a little on the weird side, but I live in Johannesburg, where most of these cars are the same look and colour like a herd of zebras with no personality. To me, it came across as a bland city car with no hope of making it in the wild plains of Africa.
But a few day ago, the opportunity came to challenge my prejudices, and spend some time with this crossover. What better way to test out a car, than the nooks and crannies of Cape Town, South Africa.
On the drive to the hotel, I was struck by how nice the EcoSport’s interior is. Everything felt well put together. I love the incredibly shallow dash, which puts the driver close enough to the windshield for a great view out. Because, why not right? It’s a refreshing change of pace from the wide dashboards so many modern cars have been churning out.
The driving experience is everything I expected. Smooth handling, with a seamless power-steering for those insufferably tight car parks. It’s what you’d expect from an SUV that retains the miniature look. It’s part of the charm.
And that’s the word I kept coming back to—charm. Many modern cars and crossovers are so competent, they tend to feel homogenous. The driving experience with this one however, was uniquely surprising. The EcoSport is different. It won’t let you forget that you’re driving something that, at its core, is a specialized piece of equipment. After that first drive, I was starting to get it. There’s a real appeal in using one of these things as if it’s a normal car.
Like most humans, I’m a sucker for upgrades and cool features. Compared to previous versions, the tweaked front bumper now houses a restyled grille with the Ford logo at the center, bigger headlamps and fog lamps and a hump on the bonnet that gradually spreads in width towards the front windshield. The bonnet-mounted windscreen washers have been tucked away neatly. All these changes give the updated EcoSport a much more aggressive stance than before. It’s the definition of handsome.
Over the course of my week with this car, I stopped caring about its drawbacks. It was liberating in the city and out of it, with tyres and suspension that seemed to handle virtually anything I threw at it. In an EcoSport, you don’t need to worry about potholes (found a few during our endeavours), and you can hit speed bumps on throttle, confident the tyres and suspension will shrug them off like nothing. I’m an introvert, but by day four of EcoSporting in Cape Town, I wanted to hang out the window and wave at people like a true hippie.
All in all, I understand why normal people buy the EcoSport even if they never intend on tackling the Table Mountain with it.
My recommendation: Get it!