Ford EcoSport 1.0 EcoBoost UK first drive review

Ford’s Fiesta-on-stilts compact SUV has some appeal, although it is less interesting to drive than it is to look at


What is it?

A startled blowfish. A cartoon character. A cheerful balloon. The look of the new Ford EcoSport has been likened to many things, but it is certainly distinctive.
The EcoSport augments the Blue Oval’s SUV range and will sit below the existing Kuga, with the larger Edge completing the three-vehicle line-up when it arrives next year.
Based on the B-class vehicle platform that also underpins the Fiesta, and built at the Chennai plant in India, Ford is anticipating that the EcoSport will mop up sales in this fast-growing segment, where buyers traditionally put more emphasis on appealing design than on price or dynamic ability. Hence the dramatically bluff front-end styling and aggressive stance.
Its looks alone could lose the EcoSport as many admirers as it wins, but in a market segment ruled by funky designs such as the Nissan Juke andRenault Captur, Ford has little room for conservatism.
Ford’s strategy with the EcoSport is to keep it simple. A limited range of engines is offered, and at present the only gearbox option is a five-speed manual, but a six-speed Powershift dual-clutch automatic transmission is due early next year on the more powerful 1.5-litre petrol variant.
There isn’t much scope for overloading the EcoSport with extras either; Ford offers all cars in Titanium trim, with the option of upgrading with a Titanium X pack which costs £1000 and adds full leather, cruise control and 17in alloys in place of the standard 16in items. Ford expects half of EcoSport buyers to choose the package.
Beyond that, there are few cost options, among them Ford’s Sync connectivity package (costing £250), metallic paint (£495) and rear parking sensors (£210).
The EcoSport is on its second generation in South America, where it was first introduced back in 2003, but this is the first version to reach Europe. It is still a rare sight on UK roads, and this was our first opportunity to drive one in this country.

What is it like?


The high-riding driving position, and the clear frontal view it affords, are the most novel aspects of the interior. The rest of the EcoSport – recognisable from other Ford products – is far less adventurous than you might expect given the car’s strong exterior lines, and lacks the pizzazz of rivals such as the Captur.
Still, it majors on practical considerations. Both headroom and legroom are very good, boot space is 310 litres and you can free up a not-inconsiderable 1238 litres by folding and tumbling both elements of the 60:40 split rear bench.
Although mounting the spare wheel on the rear door is a clever way to liberate more boot space, it does feel more like a design-led gimmick. From a practical perspective, it makes the side-hinging door rather heavy and awkward, which could be an issue if you’re grappling with luggage or shopping bags.
It’s clear from the outset that heady performance isn’t the EcoSport’s forte. In the Fiesta, this engine can sprint to 62mph in 9.4sec, while installed in this baby SUV takes a rather more sedate 12.7sec. 
On more twisting roads, though, the EcoSport shows little sign of body roll, cornering with a precision that’s quite pleasing for a supermini-on-stilts. It could even feel like a deft performer were it not for light and not particularly engaging steering that’s presumably set-up to focus on town centre manouvering. 
The ride is composed, with only the most significant of road ruts communicating to the driver. The EcoBoost engine emits its now-familiar three-pot thrum, noticeable but not overbearing during acceleration and at motorway speeds. Those used to the Fiesta might notice a touch more road and wind noise, but it’s not intrusive.
Ford says the EcoSport has some genuine off-roading capability, with 180mm of ground clearance. We did not have the opportunity to test the claim, although the lack of a four-wheel-drive variant in the UK model range suggests the only jungle this model will be seen in is an urban one.
Our short test route in the 1.0-litre EcoBoost returned fuel economy in the low 40mpg region. Although a subsequent drive in the 1.5-litre diesel version returned 45mpg over the same varied roads, the oilburner costs an extra £500.

Should I buy one?


The cost of the EcoSport is competitive in relation to its main rivals, bar the budget-conscious Dacia Duster, although as Ford itself points out, buyers in this segment tend to be attracted more by design appeal than a cheap sticker price.
And whether the EcoSport’s looks appeal compared to, say, the Juke orMokka will be a purely subjective decision for the prospective buyer.
In such a competitive market sector, though, Ford has made the EcoSport stand out in key areas, particularly with its agreeable (but not dynamic) driving experience, pleasant urban manners and above-par interior space.
Ford EcoSport 1.0 Ecoboost
Price £15,995 0-62mph 12.7sec Top speed 112mph Economy 53.3mpgCO2 125g/km Kerb weight 1350kg Engine 3-cyls, 999cc, turbocharged, petrol Power 123bhp at 6000rpm Torque 125lb ft at 1400-4500rpmGearbox 5-spd manual

Source: Autocar
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