Let me start it off with a conclusion: the Ford EcoSport media drive was an experience only for the brave heart, literally. Here's why.
Ford Philippines wanted a bit of adrenaline running down our veins, and went beyond "entertainment". However, they didn't do it just for that reason. Rather, each activity was designed to mirror and explain all the good traits of the new Ford EcoSport. In short, we got to know its features while we worked on balance, learned to overcome our fears, and competed against other groups.
First, we had to make it out from Ford Global City on a 9:00 a.m. rush hour and all the way to the south, ending at Batangas. The drive on the way to our destination was divided by three stopovers. Each stopovers were assigned for a driver change, where I happened to be the one who took the wheel from SLEX to Cintai Coritos Garden for lunch.
From the moment I got my hands on the wheel of the EcoSport 1.0 Titanium EcoBoost variant, I knew the experience was going to be different. It surprised me in every aspect there was during that very day. The riding experience from the new Ford EcoSport was amped up to a point where it felt like it's an almost entirely different car. The interior felt fresh and the highlight was the eight-inch capacitive touchscreen with SYNC 3, which replaced the old-fashioned TFT display screen oriented as if it’s inside a cave mounted on top of the old dashboard design. But, that wasn't it.
Aside from the fairly-changed exterior design, the new EcoSport has tons of surprising stuff to amuse you. Initially, it became obvious that the ride was smooth because of the refined transmission. It felt better as it ran smoothly. And, remember when I reviewed the EcoSport and it felt short in overtaking maneuvers, then I’d tell you to forget that now. The response on the 1.0 Titanium EcoBoost is a lot better as the new mill offer a lot more power compared to the predecessor model.
Mind you, what I am talking about is a 3-cylinder engine, which was originally thought off as an unbalanced engine in nature, having two piston going up and down on one side, and one doing the job in the other. This usually creates vibration but not when it's the EcoSport we're talking about. Surprisingly, the engine resulted to less vibrations, less noise, and therefore less distractions inside the cabin - a pure driving experience.
Another feature available on the Titanium EcoBoost is the automatic start/stop engine function, which is a toy upgrade if we are to compare it with the old model. And, oh, the crossover now has sunroof, which we used to obtain Instagram-worthy photos on the road.
A few hours of drive from the lunch venue got us to Laiya Adventure Park, where everything has gotten a bit more intense to begin with. Remember when I told you Ford Philippines wanted some adrenaline clipped to the driving experience? This was the place where they perfectly did that. The park was composed of daring activities such as aerial walk, giant swing, rappelling, freefall, and zipline. Yup, we did those things and all was inclined to highlight the new Ford EcoSport's key features.
The pack of motoring journalists was divided into four groups with designated team color bandanas: green, blue, orange, and lavender. I was with green team, which, by the way, was the champion team. Anyway, the first activity we had was the aerial walk, where one member had to go through suspended cables and wooden planks, while a ground player had to complete a hula hoop relay blindfolded. The activity relied on hearing and following instructions from the voice of your team mates. The EcoSport, kind of, does the same as it follows instructions through voice activated command with the SYNC 3 system.
The next activity was the zipline which was simply a 600-meter cruise in the air. It was the most relaxing one, as all the other activities were physically challenging. With that, the participants will have to bring the most amount of ping-pong balls back and forth inside their clothes. Kind of like the improved luggage space on the new EcoSport, which now topped at 1,178 liters with rear seats toppled flat.
After the scenic zipline ride, we headed next to the giant swing, where two individuals get slingshot to the air, with swing cables suspended from a giant pole. Just think of a giant swing which launches you approximately 30 to 40 feet to the air. The activity came with a challenge where three participants would relay backwards with balloons squeezed in between one's chest and the other person's back. This was to highlight the new EcoSport's back-up camera, which is now projected on the now-colored and touchscreen dashboard console. This makes reverse parking way easier and less strenuous.
The fourth activity, on the other hand, was rather the most challenging of all. A member had to rappel down a 40-feet tower while holding an untied balloon on one of his/her hand. After rappelling down, the balloon is then passed to the next person who will blow 10 red cups using the air inside the balloon. The idea of the activity was to imitate the power of the blue oval crossover, which, at the same time, is fuel efficient. The idea of the balloon air tuckering the red cups suggested that the engine packs a punch despite it being smaller compared to midsize SUVs.
The last task that was given to us was the free fall. A member would jump from the same tower while being suspended from a metal cable. However, before the jump, we had to push a wooden plank carrying a full-size toolbox on a three-meter straight course. This, we had to do using volleyballs as the wheels, where one had to transfer the balls to the front end. The activity was designed to highlight the ground clearance of the new EcoSport. That's because there is now more ground clearance in the 2019 model, which now measures 209mm.
Through these activities, we got up-close and personal with the Ford EcoSport's added features. We just had the bonus of a refined front end but the real excitement lies underneath the hood and inside the cabin. With this update, I truly am impressed to see how Ford Philippines gave what its customers wanted. I have to admit it, the old EcoSport lacks something in spirit and this 2019 upgrade fills it all in.
The introduction of the 1.0 turbocharged EcoBoost engine was, in-fact, groundbreaking for the EcoSport nameplate. The three-cylinder engine was surprisingly harmonious as there were less vibrations, contrary to what is expected. In addition, it packs in horses and torque despite its smaller size, which is its selling point. However, common mentality states that if an engine is small, it’s less likely to be powerful enough to do the job. That I say is not true. I thought I couldn’t handle rappelling down 40-feet with a balloon in my hand - I was wrong and our team actually did it the fastest.