It’s a mini SUV that looks like a full-blooded 4WD and it’s great fun to drive too. Kate Ginn is truly, madly deeply enamoured with the Ford EcoSport
They say: ‘Where imagination becomes reality.’ We say: ‘Fabulous little SUV, which will capture your heart.’
I guess you could call it love at first sight. At least, on my side it was. I think the Ford EcoSport may have taken a little longer to warm up to me but that’s understandable, given the fact this baby SUV can pick and choose its drivers at the moment such is the demand for this dinky dynamo.
In India, where the EcoSport has quite a fan club, people are on a waiting list of up to a year to get their hands on one.
So I felt lucky to be spending time with one of these mythical vehicles, even if it was only for one day.
We met in the car park at the Ford dealer in Wattayah. The moment I clapped eyes on the cutie, I was a goner, swept up in a vision of alloy wheels, colour coded bumpers and twinkling headlights.
With a chunky body, roof rack and spare wheel on the back of the side-opening rear door, first impressions are that it’s a four-wheel drive. Looks, however, can be deceiving. This squat little sweetie is a two-wheel drive.
It comes with lots of big-boy SUV attributes, though, such as a high ground clearance (good for crossing speed bumps and going over potholes), excellent water wading capacity (handy for those flooded Oman roads when it rains) and a solid feel.
We only had a few hours together, so I didn’t want to waste a minute. It was straight out onto the open road, just the two of us.
I loved the raised ride-height, which makes for an imperious driving position, giving a sense of more road control.
Inside it’s surprisingly spacious with plenty of head and legroom, belying its diminutive size. On the highway, the 1.5 litre engine felt a little laboured at times, though once it got going, we more than held our own among the slightly chaotic stream of traffic. At speed, the EcoSport is very well mannered, with hardly any wind noise.
Beyoncé was blaring out on the four-speaker stereo, the sun was shimmering in the sky above and the EcoSport and I were getting on very well indeed.
Where this bundle of joy really comes into its own is on side roads, where the lightest of steering and small stature allows you to navigate through narrow spots and park in the tightest of spaces without breaking sweat.
It’s such fun to drive. A smile kept unconsciously spreading across my face and I even waved cheerfully at a big bully 4×4, which tailgated me in the fast line despite the fact I was doing 120 and then overtook angrily.
I loved the dashboard (instrument panel) with a central section and info display. Steering wheel controls for the stereo make life easy and the voice-activated Ford Sync system can pair with your smartphone allowing your own music to fill the cabin.
Apparently, there are 20 different storage spaces to keep things neatly tucked away. The sunglasses holder above the driving mirror is a nice touch, as is the cooled glove box, which can keep up to six beverage cans nicely chilled for those day trips out to wadis or beaches.
The boot space is very generous too and fuel efficiency, at 16.5km per litre, scores well. The 1.5 litres comes in two trims, Ambiente Value and Trend, which I drove.
What has made this car such a big hit is the features, wrapped up in a great-looking body at a price, which quite frankly is a bit of a steal in my view.
My brief flirtation with the EcoSport was enough to convince me that this could be a match made in heaven, if only I could get my hands on one that is. All the units in Oman have sold out, so you may have to wait a little while. It’ll be worth it.