THE Ford EcoSport has come in for a makeover, with the most significant change also its most visual – the old-school tailgate-mounted spare wheel has gone.
The repackaging has allowed Ford to make subtle styling changes to the compact SUV, which in Australia goes toe-to-toe with the Holden Trax, Peugeot 2008 and Nissan Juke in one of the fastest-growing parts of the Australian market.
However, the makeover has also allowed Ford to address one of the other shortcomings in the Indian-made EcoSport’s armoury – it’s rolley-poley on-road dynamics.
The revised soft-roader has dropped 10mm in ride height, beefed up its suspension with revised spring and damper rates, changed the rear twist beam, and had its electronic brain and electric power steering retuned to suit the new-found on-road prowess.
The drive experience is also changing, Ford says, with “reduced gearbox torque truncation in lower gears” for the turbo petrol models – in other words, the engine should feel as though it has more poke from a standing start.
The European version of the EcoSport will also be more richly equipped, adding a heated windscreen, mirrors and front seats – not so much of a want in hot-climate Australia – and more sound-deadening material in the doors, dash, and around the pedals.
Ford Europe has also flagged that satellite navigation and a reversing camera – two significant omissions from the Australian line-up from launch – will be available later in the year.
The car maker is talking up the omission of the spare wheel as a plus for owners, saying they can option for one if they feel the need, or else be happy with a “tyre mobility kit” – Ford-speak for a can of sealant goo and a 12-volt tyre pump that can at least allow you to limp to the nearest tyre shop.
Those who say no to the spare hanging off the back will also benefit from a tailgate that opens better in tight spaces.
Ford Australia says there will be no changes made to EcoSport locally.
Who do you think deserves to win the 2017 COTY title? Cast your vote for a chance to win $1,000.
Sign up here to receive the latest round-up of Wheels news, reviews and video highlights straight to your inbox each week.