Ford EcoSport Black: small crossover gets some limited edition flair

Ford’s EcoSport is the reigning king of the small crossover segment here in South Africa. Sales volumes have been exceptionally strong since it first hit our shores in 2013, having consistently appeared in the top 10 selling passenger cars, and continued through the major revision to the model that took place in 2018.

I recently had the opportunity to get reacquainted with Ford’s stalwart, only this time in limited edition form known as the EcoSport Black.

In an effort to stand out from the crowd, Ford has added some trinkets to the exterior of its little crossover. These include a front grille and skid plate being finished in black, a theme which continues on the bonnet too with a bold black decal insert on the upper section of the hood that matches the painted black roof. Integrated black roof rails adds practicality to the package. A set of black, 16 inch alloy wheels is complemented by black side decals and mirror caps, while the rear of the vehicle features a black spare wheel cover as standard. I found the above enhancements give the EcoSport a more rugged appearance, enhancing its crossover credentials.

Black side decals and alloy wheels differentiate the Black from other EcoSport models.

The interior is largely unchanged when compared with the standard model. Four adults can sit comfortably in what is a spacious cabin. Fit and finish is acceptable, as is the boot space on offer at 333 litres (or 705 litres with the rear seats folded). Note this is on the lower end when compared with others in the segment but will still accept four overnight suitcases. An oddity of the EcoSport is a rear tailgate that opens horizontally, due to placement of the spare wheel which is attached to said tailgate. This is something to bear in mind when reverse parking up to a wall as it limits your ability to fully open the rear for access to the boot itself.

Ford’s Sync infotainment system does enough when it comes to in-car connectivity, offering Bluetooth, select apps with Ford AppLink and voice commands, all displayed on a four-inch screen. Otherwise, park distance control is about the only notable feature offered with the EcoSport Black. Competitors tend to offer a higher level of standard equipment, boasting reverse cameras, automatic headlights and rain sensing wipers.

The special edition EcoSport receives manual air-conditioning, rear parking sensors and electric windows as standard, among other features.

Powering the EcoSport Black is a 1.5-litre petrol engine which, in my test unit, is mated to an automatic gearbox. It’s a willing engine, capable of sprightly performance in and around town, as well as on the highway. There is an unpleasantness to the drivetrain combination, however, highlighted when applying around 40% throttle at which point a buzzing noise fills the cabin. Back off the throttle slightly and this noise disappears. I found I had to adjust my natural throttle application when pulling off from any standstill to avoid the issue.

I enjoyed a few days using the vehicle around town but also did a more lengthy journey from Gauteng to Limpopo, including a stint on gravel roads. Across all uses the EcoSport Black boasts a comfortable and compliant ride quality that puts it amongst the best in the class. Fuel consumption was equally impressive at 7.1 L/100km over my time with the vehicle.

Boot offers up 333 L of luggage space. Folding the rear bench down offers up a commodious 705 L of utility.

On the safety front, the EcoSport Black is equipped with six airbags and dual ISOFIX child-seat mounting points in the rear seats – a crucial consideration for families. Active safety features include ABS brakes, Emergency Brake Assist and Electronic Stability Control with traction control.

The EcoSport Black presents something of a conundrum. At R336,900 it’s competitively priced and I like how it looks and rides however the drivetrain noise leaves me conflicted. A manual gearbox would solve the problem but one isn’t available in the Black edition and these days an automatic is most desirable to the buyer of a small crossover.

Fast facts:

Ford EcoSport Black 1.5 6AT

Price: R336,900

Power: 91 kW/151 Nm

Fuel consumption: 6.9L/100km (claimed)

Rivals: Hyundai Venue, Suzuki Vitara Brezza, Nissan Magnite

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