Next-gen Ford EcoSport testing continues, electrification looks certain

The 2021 EcoSport has been spied on test in Brazil again, this time by Instagram handle CarrosCamuflados. Ford is still testing the third-gen EcoSport using the shell of the Mk2 Figo, which indicates that development is in the early stages. The launch is closer when full-body prototypes appear on the testing circuit.

Ford has an engineering centre within its manufacturing plant in Camacari and this facility looks to have taken the lead in testing the prototypes. The first generation EcoSport was a model exclusive to Brazil and combined sales of the two generations of the compact SUV have passed well over a million copies in that country.

From Brazilian journalist Henrique Rodrigues’s report on Quatro Rodas that appeared in late-2019, we had shared early details about the next-gen EcoSport previously. Reader Fernando Calza had photographed one of the compact SUV test mules driving on the highway that leads to the Ford test track in TatuĂ­ (Sao Paulo).

Ford Aspire BLU
The next-gen EcoSport, as per the Brazilian report, rides on a well-modified platform of the Ford Aspire. It is set to release in Brazil, likely to be its launch market, in 2021, offering more space for passengers and luggage.

‘Mules’ are prototypes that borrow the bodywork of other cars adapted to the dimensions (at least length and width) of the new vehicle until the body and the interior of the actual vehicle is ready for testing.

This is the first appearance of the third generation of the model anywhere in the world. The spotted prototype uses the Ford Ka (Ford Aspire) body but has higher height and considerably taller and wider wheel arches compared to the Ka/Aspire.

And using the Ford Ka for this role makes perfect sense. The BX755 project (local codename), which will give rise to the new EcoSport, is being run using the same B2E platform (global Ford B platform) as the current generation EcoSport as well as the Ka/Aspire.

Ford Puma
The design of the 2022 Ford EcoSport could witness more dynamic and flowing design lines like the Puma, and may nix the exposed spare tire.

As per Quatro Rodas, the new EcoSport will ride on a well-modified version of Ka’s B2E base, and is speculated with a longer wheelbase and lower height. The goal is to expand interior space and ensure more dynamic design lines for the compact SUV. And not having an exposed spare tire helps with this mission, as per the Brazilian report.

While no further information is reported, one feature that is a certainty is a digital instrument panel as seen on the European Ford Puma. Quatro Rodas concludes that the next generation Ford EcoSport will be released in 2021 followed by the next-gen Ka in 2022, both delivered by the Camacari factory. Note that the timetable could have changed as Brazil is among the worst hit nations during the pandemic.

Ford Puma digital instrument cluster
One of the expected features of the new EcoSport is the digital instrument cluster (at least on Titanium and above variants) as provided on the Ford Puma.

Next-gen Ford EcoSport in India

If the Mahindra-Ford joint venture in India decides to launch this particular next-gen EcoSport, it may have to do so with a a mild-hybrid system. CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency) norms in India require automakers to have their CO2 emissions reduced to 113 g/km after 2022. That and the implementation of RDE (Real Driving Emissions) testing procedure, is expected to push partial electrification in all class of ICE vehicles.

Mahindra already has a license to the SsangYong-developed X100 platform, which is BEV-ready. The company has localised it in India to use it for its XUV300 sub-4 metre SUV and this platform could be a base option if the EcoSport new model is a regional program.

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