EcoSport still some months away
Ford's Indian-built EcoSport, a delightful looking little mini SUV - designed to compete with the Holden Trax, Nissan Juke and Peugeot 2008 - won't be in New Zealand showrooms until well into next year.
That's only half the bad news. The other half is that we will only have a single powertrain choice and it won't be the World engine of the Year title winner, the EcoBoost one-litre triple.
This is in the face of a choice in Australia of six models, with the extra twist of the sword being that the car is already in the lucky country.
Australian EcoSport front up with a 1.5-litre model in base Ambiente trim with five-speed manual or six-speed dual-clutch automatic choices. The EcoBoost 1-litre triple powered car is a manual-only model, but can be had in mid-way Trend specification or top-grade Titanium trim. Those same two specifications also feature for the 1.5-litre model, this time with dual-clutch only.
Across the ditch, the EcoSport range will start from A$20,790 (NZ$22,870) topping-out at just A$27,790.
With the manual only 1.0-litre turbo triple "not being quite the right fit" according to Ford New Zealand, we'll have an automatic 1.5-litre powertrain only, which like the Australian line-up, will have front-drive only.
It is possible, however, that Ford might match Holden's Trax offering by offering the EcoSport in two trim levels.
It is unlikely that any EcoSport choice in New Zealand would deliver much change, if any, from NZ$30,000.
Some compensation will be that while the EcoSport might well be the first vehicle in Australia to offer the EcoBoost triple, we are enjoying that unit - which is both 2012 and 2013 World Engine of the Year - in the Fiesta long before the Ockers do.
Meanwhile the EcoBoost-powered cars which start from A$22,490 will be available first with the most compellingly-priced 1.5-litre naturally aspirated models arriving, like ours, in 2014.
In the EcoSport, the 1.0-litre EcoBoost develops 92kW of power at 6000rpm and 170Nm of torque at 1400-4500rpm while the 1.5-litre Ti-VCT develops 82kW of power at 6300rpm and 140Nm of torque at 4400rpm.
The units' efficiency levels are good, with the 1.0 EcoBoost engine delivering a fuel economy cycle of 5.7-litre/100km while the 1.5-litre Ti-VCT unit manages a useful but hardly ground-breaking 6.5-litres/100km.
With just front-wheel-drive on offer the EcoSport is not meant to be a mud-plugging, stream crosser however, though with a 200mm clearance it offers a panoramic driving position and the ability to do some gentle wading in water up to 550mm deep.
The EcoSport would probably be a good choice for customers on a budget close to that of a Fiesta who want more room for children and the family dog along with the view and the rugged profile of SUV styling. "Rugged" is stretching things a bit to be honest, but it does have more presence than the Fiesta and its short front and rear overhangs deliver a 25-degree approach angle and 35-degree departure angle so there will definitely be places an EcoSport can go to that a Fiesta can't.
While the Indian-built junior SUV shares its platform with the new Fiesta, Ford has made changes to better suit the character of the vehicle. Damper and spring rates have been specifically tuned to achieve an optimal balance of steering, handling and ride on less than top-grade surfaces. So it should suit New Zealand well.
Ford Australia's vice president marketing, sales and service, former Ford New Zealand man, Graeme Whickman, describes the Ford EcoSport as: "A practical SUV equipped with abundant versatility and ‘can do' ability for an exciting and diverse urban lifestyle."
He adds, "EcoSport is a smart, connected and intuitive SUV that provides Ford customers with the right tools for their everyday lives like SYNC connectivity and Bluetooth2."
The SUV's SYNC connectivity system has Emergency Assistance standard across the range in Australia, though the exact specification for New Zealand is unknown.
SYNC offers hands-free, voice-activated in-car connectivity with mobile phones and media players including Bluetooth hands-free and music streaming.
Other standard connectivity features include USB/iPod3 ports and steering wheel mounted audio controls.
Other standard features across the EcoSport range include seven airbags including driver's knee airbag, alarm, rear swing tailgate with chrome finish, full-size spare wheel with locking wheel nut.
The EcoSport also features electric power-assisted steering, sports front seats, slide-out drawer under the front passenger seat, 60/40 split rear seats with "fold and tumble" function, ice blue illumination for the instrument cluster, steering wheel mounted audio controls, air conditioning, trip computer, front and rear power windows and 6-speaker CD/MP3 audio system.
Apart from a safe body structure designed with state-of-the-art tech to absorb crash energy efficiently, the car also has ABS with Brake Assist (BA) and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), as well as Hill Launch Assist (HLA).
The Ford EcoSport has front McPherson strut suspension with coil spring and anti-roll bar while the rear has a semi-independent twist beam with twin gas and oil-filled shock absorbers.
When the EcoSport arrives in New Zealand, it will be offered in a range of eight colours, including: Bright Yellow, Diamond White, Chill Panther Black, Mars Red, Moondust Silver, Kinetic and Sea Grey. We'll tell you more about pricing and specification as soon as it comes to hand.