by Deriq T. Bernard
PAINTING is therapeutic for many. For some, like my parent and siblings, it is a regular creative outlet.
I grew up in a family that encouraged drawing on walls. Well specific walls. Also color was a regular part of life, except for my dad who almost always wore black (except at funerals where he wore white). Crayons, water colors, acrylics, pencils, charcoal, eraser and paper was plentiful. We loved museums and art exhibits. And when we travel here or abroad, an art museum was always in the agenda.
When Ford said the Ecosport lend out would come with an art training for my siblings, I almost jeered.
“Give them art training?” I asked my dad, who connived with Ford for this weekend escape.
“One can always learn new things,” my dad replied.
“One can always teach new things,” I jested referring to the skill set my sister Laura, a calligraphist and painter and my brother Darrel, an amateur programmer and digital animator with serious Photoshop and Premiere skills since age 10.
Father knows best, I guess. Or I just didn’t have a choice. Driving for family trumps weekends in front of the laptop. So off we went to glitzy Alabang from the grassy San Pablo.
The trip to Alabang is an easy one from our small-town San Pablo City. The Ecosport was a really easy drive. The automatic transmission responded the way it should, defeating all previous rumors or a raggedy gearbox. The smallish engine only had three cylinders to bang out power from. I had tested the previous Ecosport with another kind of transmission and I felt that was a laggard, constantly out of breath for my kind of driving.
The 1.5-liter lump on this, the Titanium variant we tested was more than sufficient for the intended duty. The naturally aspirated engine configuration may not compare apples-to-appled to the 1.0-liter EcoBoost that topped at 170 Nm of torque due to a tiny turbocharger. It was presented to me at a Ford dealer test drive event in BGC and now I am itching to get my hands on the EcoBoost’d variant to see how flawless it will perform on the hilly terrains of Lipa where newly opened roads are found.
I’ve always loved the idea of its SUV-like look, and height, which was well appreciated traversing the asphalt scraped sections of the SLEX just as the construction of the Skyway extension is underway. Rolling on 17s with low profile tires added to that SUV feel, which is queerly more secure now than before. Did Ford makes changes in the suspension or the rigidity of the body?
Now I’ve read reviews that rank the EcoSport as a middle of the range car. My own impressions say it is not true. It may have had its faults previously, but the recovery play, like engaging the enemy in CounterStrike always proved to be more successful.
Inside the car, the aura is strangely bigger—the vibe is that of an Everest, not the tininess of what the EcoSport wanted to be. The large tablet like information console, can be a digital canvas. The materials used inside the cabin are all new—but the combinations of colors rather dark and drab! Why not spruce it up with color and different fabrics? That was not my suggestion, it came from my youngest brother who said that why should the interior be always black and gray when it could be color. He started to Photoshop a few examples of his idea.
Since the dashboard, elbow rests and center consoled is covered in soft leather, why not use designs embossed on it. The whole car is a piece of canvas waiting to be worked on.
Nevertheless, as I mentioned earlier, this engine is not a sloth. It outputs 123 hp and 150 Nm, just 30 short of the boosted version. The new conventional six-speed automatic transmission worked better now though it needed more footwork for the torque converter to shift faster than it electronically anticipates, to avoid staying too long at high revs and consume more fuel.
On that point, we did about 8 kilometers per liter in the city, and 17.2 kilometers per liter on the highway. At the 3 days back and forth through the nasty Skyway Extension construction in Alabang it still delivered 14.8 kilometers per liter, as it crawled for about an hour and a half from Southwoods to the Skyway entry. The start-stop system saved maybe 3 to 4 liters of fuel, but the congestion was a true test to the system’s resiliency—in the duration of the traffic is started and stopped an average of 8 times.
Positioned as a tiny in the middle of two segment, this subcompact-crossover has proven that it bigness is a state of existence. Back to the idea of an art car. The Ecosport deserves a more colorful life. Ford must consider colorizing it. They can hire kids to complete the idea.