Ford EcoSport review

Our Rating: 
2
2.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

Ford EcoSport small SUV takes on Nissan Juke and Peugeot 2008, with EcoBoost engines

For: 
Decent standard kit, high seating position
Against: 
Awkward styling, compromised practicality, low economy and poor quality

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The EcoSport is Ford’s first entry into the supermini-SUV market, and is a rival to cars such as the Nissan Juke, Peugeot 2008, Renault Captur and Vauxhall Mokka.

It uses the same platform as the Ford Fiesta, but its design and development were carried out by Ford Brazil. However, that’s not the end of the EcoSport’s global credentials, because it’s being built in Thailand and India for emerging markets. 

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.

The car does get 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

Styling

2.5

While the EcoSport is based on the same platform as the Fiesta, the supermini’s dynamic shape is lost on the awkward SUV.

It has the usual 4x4 styling touches, including black plastic cladding low on the doors, a silver front skid plate and silver roof rails, but the boxy lines look a bit odd when compared to the rounded Renault Captur and Nissan Juke.

The EcoSport’s nose gets some chrome trim, but the large grille is more like the pre-facelift Fiesta’s, so looks a bit dated, while the high-set headlights appear a little out of place. On the plus side, the standard LED daytime running lights look distinctive, while the chrome-ringed foglamps give the nose a lift.

Another odd addition is the tailgate-mounted spare wheel. It’s a little bit of a throwback, and the only other recent cars with this set-up are the Suzuki Jimny and Mitsubishi Shogun. One neat touch at the rear is the boot release that’s integrated into the right-hand tail-light, but the chrome-trimmed, flimsy plastic handle will pick up scratches easily.

Inside, the EcoSport gets a dashboard inspired by the Fiesta, so there’s a centre console keypad, blue LCD displays and angular air vents. The cabin is well built, but plastic quality is on the hard side, and the design isn’t as dynamic as the Renault’s touchscreen-based layout. You get cloth seats as standard, and while they’re relatively comfortable, they lack support.

Driving

2.8

Ford has a strong reputation for building cars that are fun to drive, so it’s a real shame that the EcoSport is so disappointing. Things start quite well, because the 1.0-litre turbo three-cylinder EcoBoost engine is an absolute gem. It’s not too noisy, and the 123bhp version offered in the EcoSport range has a decent turn of speed.

While it’s not setting the world alight, the engine’s torquey power delivery and a sweet-shifting, five-speed gearbox mean it’s no hardship to make the most of the power on offer.

The EcoSport has decent steering, too. The wheel is well weighted, and initial turn-in is positive, but things quickly unravel if you try to explore the EcoSport’s handling. While it shares its underpinnings with the Fiesta, the raised ride height and longer-travel suspension mean the car feels soggy through bends. There’s plenty of body roll thanks to the high centre of gravity, and the EcoSport is easily unsettled by bumps.

Push harder, and the tyres soon start to squeal in protest, while the standard electronic stability control cuts in early and abruptly to keep the Ford in check.

Ford EcoSport rear

Unfortunately, the long-travel suspension isn’t soft enough to deliver cruising comfort. Instead, the EcoSport bounces along as it hits one bump after another, and the Renault feels a lot more stable in comparison.

At least the tall and narrow shape means you have a good view out, although it’s front-wheel drive only, so you won’t be able to head very far off road. It’s easy to weave through narrow streets, although we’d highly recommend adding the £210 rear parking sensors if you want to avoid any reversing shunts with that unappealing, door-mounted spare wheel.

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.

Reliability

2.6

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.

It's a product of the ‘One Ford’ strategy, where cars are sold globally and components are shared between models. Under the skin, the basic platform is sourced from the Fiesta, while the EcoBoost engine is also of European origin, and both of these are tried and tested.

UK EcoSports are made in India, though, and while our car seemed relatively well put together, it wasn’t up to the same standard as European-built Fords. Time will tell whether the newcomer can be as reliable as other models in the range - it was too new for the 2014 Driver Power survey.

Practicality

2.5

Space inside the Ford EcoSport is reasonable, with lots of headroom and decent elbow space, although legroom in the back is tighter than you’ll find in rivals like the Renault Captur. One plus point is that the 60:40 split seatbacks recline to offer a more relaxing seating position.

The glovebox up front is decent for storage, but a shallow tray ahead of the gearlever and equally shallow cup-holders behind let it down.

The back seats fold flat with the pull of a lever by the seatbase, but there is a big step down to the boot floor. You can tumble the seats forward to increase load length slightly, but the EcoSport is well behind the Renault for space. The 333-litre boot has a high floor, and the bodywork underneath means there’s no extra storage to be had. The large, heavy side-hinged door also restricts access in tight spaces.

Ford EcoSport capacity

Running Costs

3.3

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.

Disqus - noscript

Hmmmm. Built in India. So that's why we don't have any Ford workers in the UK buiding cars. Remember that!

So. This is Ford without Mazda.

Having read many reports on this New Ford its interior is so bad its like Citroen 20 years ago. How come Ford think we can accept such rubbish Ford management what you all been up to .. And has been said built in India Oh dear bad news

Such a shame that Ford have missed an opportunity with this car. It looks quite good from the front and on the face of it appears to be a good choice as a good driver, but the poor quality interior and that rear side-hinged door (and hinged on the wrong side for the UK !) just shows that Ford don't really want to sell it over here. What are management thinking - small SUV style cars are one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK ? They have compounded their error by not offering a 4x4 version in Europe - do they think it doesn't get cold, snowy and slippery in Europe ?

I was really hoping this would be a car that would make my shortlist for a new car in 2014 but I'm sorry to say that this has been a big disappointment - hey, I don't even mind the spare wheel being on the rear door, at least it marks the car out from all its competitors - but Ford have blown it by their sheer "couldn't care less, that'll do" attitude.

Surely Ford realise their cars interios have to be half decent these days so why have a crap interior AND a crap drive?

My God! what a face! Who designed this? Surely someone under the influence of butane. This is pig ugly, comparable to the Fiesta mk4,which was equally hideous. Car designers need to get a grip! Talk about a skip on wheels!, whatever happened to beauty in design?????

I can only assume that Ford told their designers to take their minds back 40 yrs and to come up with the worst looking car (externally) that they could, but they got carried away and took the same ethos to the interior. I have been a Ford fan since my dad went to work for them back in the 1960's, but as long as there is something as bad to look at as the ecosport I will be to ashamed to admit it.
Ford I know this car is part of your 'one world' strategy but the entire world does not consist of Brazil.

Last updated: 29 Sep, 2014
Issue 1346
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