Of Fords and Fathers

Father’s Day is a precious celebration for me. The bond I have with my dad takes on different levels. He is my father, first and foremost. He is also my best friend, role model, influencer, boss, business partner, and teacher. Father’s Day day is precious to me because I celebrate the person I look up to and who has been the greatest influence in my life. My father has taught me values more than anyone or any institution; he has taught me how to be kind and patient; to be a man of my own word, to be a gentleman and most importantly, to be God-fearing and prayerful.

If there’s one word I could describe my dad, it’s ‘provider.’ He has provided me with all the things I needed to mold me into who I am now—a still-young adult ready to face life with a maturity that, I’d like to think, belies my years.

Most importantly, I wouldn’t be writing this now if it weren’t for my dad. He has influenced my love and appreciation of cars at a very young age. I learned how to “drive” a car when I was just four years young. I remember sitting on my dad’s lap as I held on to the steering wheel as my dad parked the car in our garage. Twelve years later, armed with a student driver’s permit, I was confident enough to drive with my dad beside me. As soon as I was of legal age, I got my non-professional driver’s license and drove myself to school.

In my later college years, I started driving some of the test cars my dad brought home, kick-starting my stint as a budding motoring journalist. I started working part-time for my dad as an automotive writer while continuing my studies in U.P.

Last month’s Father’s Day celebration gave me the opportunity to surprise and treat my dad. It was all part of Ford Philippines’ very thoughtful Father’s Day treat for some fathers in the media, which consisted of a weekend with a Ford (a full-featured top-of-the-line Ecosport 1.0L EcoBoost Titanium AT for me and my dad) plus a surprise lunch at a resto of our choice.

My dad and I have always been fond of the Ecosport’s jaunty and perky styling. It’s the only crossover that still has its spare tire mounted on the tailgate, like the true 4×4’s of old. It’s tiny without looking puny, thanks to an assertively large grille and handsome HID projector headlights (with LED DRLs). It’s also managed to remain fresh-looking despite its years thanks to a clean and gimmick-free design marked by a rising windowline and the sharply angled C-pillar and backlight. 

As the surprise unfurled (my dad didn’t even know we had an Ecosport parked outside), I drove my dad to go to a surprise destination—a golf driving range. It was a big surprise as my dad hadn’t played golf in 20 years (although he said he was a pretty decent player then). It was also the first time we both played together, which made the experience all the more special. We both used his old golf clubs that was handed down to him by his older brother, but which was first used by their father who is now 87 years old. The irons that we used even had a sticker label of my lolo’s name. My dad and I had an amazing time at the driving range—even as we sliced, hooked, and shanked half the strokes we took.

Palms sore and arms tired after four buckets, we rode in the Ecosport for a quick snack at a nearby resto. We both appreciated the Ecosport’s firm yet supportive leather seats that hugged the body in all the right places, the powerful AC that blasted cold air in the cabin, and of course, the good vibes from the music that emanated from the Titanium’s fine 7-speaker audio system with 8-inch touchscreen and Ford’s easy-to-use SYNC 3 connectivity system (with Applink and voice control).

Snacks were followed by a fun drive home, where my dad and I took the long route and swapped places behind the steering wheel. My dad has always enjoyed (and preferred) the nimbleness and agility of small cars compared to midsize and large ones. We would still have time to rest in the afternoon before dinner with the rest of the family.

On the way home, we traversed some long empty stretches where we could enjoy the delightful acceleration courtesy of 170Nm of torque from the tiny yet award-winning EcoBoost turbo engine. The engine may displace only one liter, but the torque is available from as low as 1,500 rpm and stays constant all the way to 4,500 rpm, giving it the grunt equaling that of much bigger engines. The 6-speed automatic helped, too, ensuring that the tiny Ford was always in the ideal gear for maximum power and efficiency.   

We took a detour after the long stretches so we could enjoy the Ecosport’s handling along some winding roads that connect Commonwealth Avenue to Rizal province. The Ecosport may be no Mini Cooper, but its diminutive size and grippy 205/50R17 tires allowed it to corner and zip around slow traffic like none of the tall SUVs can.

Closer to our village, we encountered several humps and a few potholes, all of which the Ecosport’s pliant suspension effortlessly soaked up. Braking was easy to modulate, allowing strong and effortless control of deceleration whether you’re crawling in traffic or slowing down from high speed.

The nice part about the Ecosport is that it starts at a surprisingly low P750,000 (for the Trend MT) and tops out at our EcoBoost Titanium test unit’s P1,190,000—eminently reasonable for a crossover that boasts satellite navigation, a fully digital instrument cluster, steering wheel audio controls, two USB ports and two 12V outlets, auto start/stop technology, automatic headlamps, an airconditioned glove box, auto-dimming rearview mirror, automatic climate control, follow-me-home lighting, sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, tilt-and-telescope leather steering wheel, and an extra-long suite of safety systems (front/side/curtain airbags, ABS, EBD, ESP, HDC, HAS, ETC, Rear Park Assist, and rearview camera). That’s true bang for your back.

But ultimately, our drive with the Ford Ecosport wasn’t just one of those straightforward test drives. Sharing the wheel with my dad, who is an accomplished driver and amateur racer, will always be an honor and a privilege for me. I always want to make him proud and I feel I honor him by taking the wheel and driving him around the city—just as he has driven me since I was a baby.

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