Ford EcoSport review
Ford EcoSport small SUV takes on Nissan Juke and Peugeot 2008, with EcoBoost engines
The Ford Ecosport comes as part of a run of small SUVs - the Nissan Juke led the way for this new type of car, with a blend of funky style, low running costs and supermini space. The Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008 have joined the battle and now, at last, Ford has entered the fray with the new Ford EcoSport.
The Ecosport is part of Ford’s global One Ford philosophy: developed primarily for the South American market, but tweaked for global appeal and with UK cars built in India. It’s based on Ford Fiesta underpinnings featuring the excellent 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine, but sadly it lacks the charm of the Fiesta. Awkward styling, compromised practicality, not especially good economy and poor quality let the Ecosport down badly.
Our choice: EcoSport Titanium 1.5 diesel
In the Ecosport’s biggest market, Brazil, quick and easy access to the spare wheel is essential for safety reasons. That’s why the Ecosport has its spare wheel mounted on the back of the boot door, eighties-style. In Europe, it spoils what is otherwise a smart and sleek look, making the car look rear heavy.
When the Juke, Captur and 2008 are such striking and stylish cars, that’s a big own goal for Ford – we’d rather see the wheel removed and a can of tyre weld offered instead.
Otherwise the Ecosport looks very much like a Ford Fiesta in a hall of mirrors: stretched upwards. The new family grille is present and correct, and inside the dashboard comes straight from the Fiesta, too – but without the quality that you’ll find in Britain’s best supermini or the Ecosport’s rivals.
The Ford EcoSport is a big disappointment to drive, especially when you consider it's based on the agile and fun Fiesta. Grip is reasonable and the steering is responsive – if overly heavy and lacking feel – but you can’t hide the fact that this is a tall car, and there's significant lean in the corners. The longer travel suspension should smooth out the EcoSport's ride, but it bumps ad fidgets over rough surfaces that rivals are able to smooth over easily. A high seating position and, chunky front pillars aside, good front visibility help make the EcoSport fairly easy to drive, as well as instilling confidence in the Ford's mild off-road ability (even though there are no Peugeot-style electronic aids to help off road).
The multi-award-winning 1.0-litre, three-cylinder Ecoboost engine is available in 123bhp form, and seems the logical choice if you put driving dynamics ahead of efficiency, even if in the EcoSport this unit lacks some of its usual verve. A better bet generally is the 1.5-litre 90bhp diesel, which combines improved refinement, handling balance and, more importantly, economy – not that the diesel, EcoBoost or entry-level 1.5-litre petrol engines stand out as particularly frugal in a class where high mpg and low CO2 are the norm. None of the three engines offer especially sparkling performance, either.
The Ford EcoSport only managed four stars in its EuroNCAP crash test, in spite of having a full roster of airbags on board. An adult occupant score of 93% is good enough, but with 77% for child occupants, 58% for pedestrian safety and 55% for safety assistance features, the Ecosport trails some rivals.
Ford doesn’t have the greatest history on customer satisfaction, either, finishing in 23rd place in our Driver Power survey in 2013. The Fiesta, with which the Ecosport shares many of its components, didn’t fare too well either – it failed to break into the top 100 in 2013’s Driver Power survey, charting at a lowly 117th position.
SUVs like the Juke, Captur, 2008 and now EcoSport may be small, but practicality is an important part of their talent. Once inside the Ford, you’re not too badly off. The extra height means you could comfortably wear a top hat, while there’s decent legroom in the back, too, if not a great deal of space for when three adults are sat side-by-side. Getting into the rear isn’t especially easy either – the door openings are quite narrow and the doors don’t open very wide. Fitting a little one in a child seat won’t be easy, although the seating position is higher than in rivals.
The biggest problem though is boot access, which relies on a wide, side-opening rear door that opens up away from the kerb side. If you back into a space, you’ll have to leave plenty of room to be able to open the door, too. The arrangement will put many people off the EcoSport altogether. That spare wheel on the back prevents the rear glass from opening. The 333-litre boot is smaller than rivals and only 43 litres ahead of the Fiesta, while there's no under-floor storage. One highlight is the boot release itself, which is concealed within the right rear light configuration, helping keep the rear fairly tidy all things considered.
The Ford Ecosport is only available in top-spec Titanium trim with the option of a £1,000 X pack for a few additional goodies. That makes the car quite pricey to start with, but at least you get plenty of goodies for your money - including Ford’s much vaunted Sync with AppLink smartphone connectivity - so it works out at a similar price to equivalent models from rivals.
Ford tends to peg its running costs low with servicing costs that err on the affordable side. But the economy figures for the EcoSport are nothing to write home about. The diesel model is our pick of the range, not least because of its claims of 61.4mpg and CO2 of 120g/km. That’s not especially outstanding in the modern world, but the Ecoboost engine only offers 53.3mpg and CO2 figures of 125g/km – they’re not award winning stats.