Ford Brazil has unveiled a more aggressive looking, all-wheel-drive version of the Fusion with much stronger ‘mini-SUV’ styling than the model recently launched in Europe, writes Rogério Louro.

The new model, billed as the EcoSport SUV, is the second model in the Ford Brazil Amazon Project, a complete range of models based in the new Fiesta .

The EcoSport is about the same size as the European Fusion, but styled to look like a little brother for Ford North America’s comparatively giant Explorer, Escape and Expedition SUVs.

The Fusion is a vehicle with more urban characteristics while the EcoSport is more robust and versatile, because of the option of all-wheel-drive, said Ford do Brasil president Antonio Maciel Neto.

The EcoSport will be produced in the new Ford Camaçari plant, in Bahia state built specially to produce Amazon Project models and already building a redesigned Fiesta hatchback which also differs in detail from its European cousin.

The EcoSport will be sold in Brazil from mid-2003 and also will be exported to other Latin America countries and probably to the United States and Canada (but only with all-wheel drive).

Ford Brazil has not yet confirmed expectations the EcoSport will have two familiar engines – the Duratec 2.0-litre and South African-made Zetec Rocam 1.6-litre fours.

According to Ford the name EcoSport was choose after research in South America that showed that the name was easily associated with sports and nature. It is also is consider easy to pronounce in different languages.

Next, the Amazon Project will spawn a sedan, minivan and pick-up models, again based on the latest Fiesta.