Ford's new Ecosport small SUV will play a pivotal role in the carmaker's target to achieve 2m sales a year worldwide of its small car platform.
The Ecosport will account for almost a quarter of these when it completes its global roll out by entering the fast growing B SUV segment in Europe next year. Sharing its underpinnings are the Fiesta, B-Max, Transit Courier and the recently shown Ka concept.
The car was developed in Brazil, where it is also assembled, as well as in other plants in China, India and, within the next six to eight months, Russia and Thailand.
In the UK, launch next May will be preceded a month earlier by the release of 120 Facebook limited edition models. Connectivity is also behind the Sync voice control system for audio and phone functions which is an add on package for the Ecosport.
Initial sales plan is for just 4,000 Ecosports in the UK next year, restricted by availability from the factories. This is expected to ease once production is increased. Unlike other markets, the UK will not get four wheel drive to keep weight and cost down according to Ford of Britain marketing chief Anthony Ireson, who added that two wheel drive models will have some off road capability thanks to a good wading height and sharp departure angles. Buyers are not expected to be keen off roaders but city dwellers.
Two engines will be available, Ford's one-litre three-cylinder Ecotech engine and the 1.5-litre TDCi diesel, mated to five speed manual or 6-speed Powershift (twin clutch automated) transmissions. Initially there will be just one trim level, Titanium, with prices starting at GBP14,995 and ranging up to GBP16,495, undercutting rivals such as the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur.