A pot of black and some trim shop magic help keep Ford’s SUV relevant
It is no secret that the South African bakkie-based ladder chassis sport utility vehicle market is super-competitive. Toyota recently upped the ante with its uprated Fortuner to support its upmarket Prado and Land Cruiser range. Mitsubishi’s Pajero Sport is a compelling option. And the Isuzu MU-X is a high value offering too. Never mind the Land Rovers on the hard side and myriad smaller but softer rivals too.
GOOD REASON FOR SOMETHING SPORTY
Of course right in the middle of all that (and more) is Ford’s Everest. And it seems that the Silverton carmaker has good reason to do something special with its player in this vital segment. Enter Everest Sport.
Based on the popular Everest XLT, Sport takes to that giant pot of black that’s proven so popular right across the South African car industry of late. It seems everyone is pandering to Darth Vader these days and Ford is no stranger to the dark side, either. Not least of all our new Everest Sport. Which in its ‘Frozen White’ hue reminds us a bit more of Vader’s Strom Troopers than the old bugger himself.
That black treatment stretches to a unique (and quite attractive, may we add) black mesh grille, ebony roof rails and a darkened front bumper chin and rear valance. Add blackened mirror caps, door handles and the rest of what were once chrome finishes on the XLT. There’s also unique Everest lettering across its nose. You know, like Defender or Range Rover on those cars? And the necessary Sport decals, too.
‘PREMIUM’ CABIN ENHANCED
Step inside and the Sport’s the ‘premium’ Everest cabin gains blue stitched and Sport embossed leather seats and soft-touch leather on the dash. The driver also enjoys an eight-way power adjustable pew.
Powered by Ford’s Gqebehra-built 132kW 420Nm 2-litre single turbodiesel turning its ten-speed automatic, it may not be as sophisticated as its biturbo twin, but performance on the road is still more than ample. And in some respects, perhaps even an advantage.
This single turbo version is not long way off and seemingly closer to its flagship twin turbo kin than its price discount suggests. So much so that it makes us wonder what all the fuss is about the Raptor engine – especially considering little brother does a brilliant job. Far better than the discount suggests, in like specced models.
A CREAMY DOLLOPSPREAD OVER TEN COGS
The ten-speed autobox conspires to spread Sport’s creamy dollop of power wide, but it can be frustrating as it continually searches that plum cog for what you’re up to at the moment. Still, floor it and as that stout turbo lump pulls hard, the autobox skips a few cogs down to precisely the right ratio. And then it will quietly shift back up as the road levels or drops away, always in effortless comfort.
The gearbox also makes our Sport far much quicker. It rushes to 100 km/h in just ten seconds – a second and a half quicker than the venerable 3.2 six-hooker down our test strip. Never mind a good second quicker and 5 km/h faster over the quarter mile. With significantly improved overtaking acceleration too. And it sips in the sevens per hundred, where the old 3.2 would struggle to find the nines.
Ride quality, while benefiting the improvement of that raft of chassis and suspension tweaks a couple of years ago, is still agricultural. It’s a bakkie after all. And you tend to feel that through the chassis. Like you do in all this car’s direct rivals. Steering is a tad tight on the open road, but you soon put that in the back of your mind as Everest’s positive handling comes to the fore. Ride and feel is quiet. And plush enough, too.
EFFORTLESS OFF ROAD CRAWLING
That newfound suppleness of ride comes most to the fore on dirt roads, aided and abetted by Sport’s 10-speed box. Armed with a low range, a rear diff lock and throttle and brake responsive hill descent control, Everest Sport is effortless to take way off road and indulge in 4×4 crawling. This Ford also boasts an impressively tight turning circle for a large SUV.
Sport also packs standard HID LED head and daytime running lights, cruise control and front and rear park sensors with a rear-view camera. There’s also Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Collision and Lane-Keeping Alerts, Auto High Beam and a comprehensive Electronic Stability Control. It packs Traction, Trailer Sway, Hill Descent and Adaptive Load Controls; Hill Start Assist and Roll Over Mitigation. Add Passive Entry and Start, a Category 1 alarm and even a spare wheel lock.
And Sport of course comes with Ford’s latest Apple CarPlay Android Auto, Waze traffic and navigation, Bluetooth and USB-rich SYNC infotainment comes with gesture, voice or touch control for its while Semi-Automatic Parallel Park Assist allows the big Ford to easily park itself.
SPORT ENHANCEMENTS KEEP EVEREST SHARP
Indeed, the Ford Everest may indeed be long in its lifecycle tooth. But courtesy of a pot of black and a little trim shop magic, this Sport enhancement keeps those looks and aesthetics, and comfort on the sharp side. Where this still most compelling SUV option still deserves to be… – Michele Lupini
Images – Michele Lupini
ROAD TESTED: Ford Everest 2.0ST 4WD XLT Sport Engine: 132kW 420Nm 2-litre turbodiesel I4 Drive: 10-speed automatic 4x4 TESTED: 0-60 km/h: 4.18 sec 0-100 km/h: 10.08 sec 0-160 km/h: 28.84 sec 400m: 17.1sec @ 124 km/h 80-120 km/h: 7.94 sec 120-160 km/h: 14.31 sec CLAIMED: VMax: 180 km/h Fuel: 7.1 l/100km CO2: 187 g/km Warranty/Service: 4y 120K/6y 90K km LIST PRICE: R718K RATED: 7