The EcoSport is Ford’s new small SUV; its way of stepping up to the plate and taking on the many new compact off-roaders that have popped up in recent years.
Following the explosion in small SUV sales in Europe, Ford is finally bringing the EcoSport to the UK, 11 years after the previous model was originally released in Brazil.
With contenders such as the Peugeot 2008, Vauxhall Mokka and the Nissan Juke, Ford already has some stiff competition. The Mokka for example gives buyers the option of four-wheel drive – something Ford isn’t offering on the EcoSport – but starts at £18,264 compared to just £14,995 for the EcoSport.
What is it?
The EcoSport is Ford’s attempt at a small SUV which slots in between the Fiesta hatchback and the B-Max compact people carrier. With a boot-mounted spare wheel (a hangover from its design for the Brazilian market) and inflated height, the EcoSport has a bold off-roader look, though it isn’t available with four-wheel drive currently.
Measuring just over 4m long, the EcoSport is one of the smallest SUVs available, though the externally mounted spare wheel takes the length up to 4.27m. However, with no spare wheel taking up space in the boot, you do get a usefully spacious boot with load space of 375 litres of space on offer.
This new model is available with three engines; two petrols and a diesel. The most affordable model is the 1.5-litre 111bhp petrol which is available from £14,995 and returns 44.8mpg and 149g/km of CO2. It’s offered with a choice of manual and automatic gearboxes.
Despite measuring just 1.0-litre in size the EcoBoost petrol model develops 123bhp and is greener than the 1.5-litre petrol, returning 53.3mpg and 125g/km of CO2. Prices for this model start at £15,995.
Topping the range, is the 1.5-litre 90bhp diesel which returns 61.4mpg and 120g/km of CO2 and is available from £16,495.
Equipment levels are good with front fog lights, keyless entry and climate control fitted as standard on all models. Also included is a multifunction steering wheel, electric front and rear windows and a trip computer.
Range-topping Titanium X models add 17-inch wheels, full leather trim and automatic headlights and wipers. Cruise control is also standard.
What is it like to drive?
We were impressed with how both the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol and 1.5-litre diesel versions performed on the road. The ride in both cars is quite stiff for a family car, however this made for a more engaging drive than rivals such as the Peugeot 2008.
The Ford also coped reasonably well on some of the roughest roads we encountered but is by no means a replacement for a proper off-roader. The diesel version had the edge for us, feeling incredibly refined with great steering and engine response.
The EcoSport’s high seating position also made for fantastic forward visibility and the view out of the back isn’t bad too, even with that hatchback-mounted rear wheel.
What is it like inside?
Available only in top-spec Titanium and Titanium X trim, the EcoSport’s interior features the same dashboard layout as the Fiesta but it does feel much cheaper inside with the materials used lacking the same quality.
The list of standard equipment is long though and you will find 20 useful storage spaces dotted around the cabin too, including a cooled glovebox.
The steering wheel is rake and reach adjustable, while the driver’s seat adjusts for height, meaning that most drivers should be able to get comfortable.
Is it practical?
The EcoSport is barely longer than the Fiesta but offers a reasonable amount of space for four passengers, plus a large, deep boot.
The split rear seats also fold forward to offer up more loading space. The exterior-mounted spare wheel may free up space in the boot, but with it mounted below the window line you’ll have to be careful to avoid bumping it when reversing.
Should I buy one?
The EcoSport is a fantastic option if you are looking for a small SUV. It has respectable emissions and running costs coupled with a very good drive on-road.
Unfortunately though it is let down by its interior. Yes it is very similar to its sister-model, the Fiesta, but it just doesn’t have the same quality plus there is no sat nav available.
However, if we were in the market for a small SUV the EcoBoost would be toward the top of our list. We would definitely choose the diesel version though, even above the award-winning 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine.
Ford EcoSport 1.5 TDCi 91PS Titanium
List price: £16,495
Engine: 1.5-litre, four cylinder diesel
Top speed: 99mph
Fuel economy: 57.7 (urban), 64.2 (extra-urban), 61.4mpg (combined)
Euro NCAP rating: Four-stars