We drove the new Ford EcoSport diesel recently and were underwhelmed by Ford’s new baby SUV. Can the award-winning 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine help improve on our initial verdict on this Nissan Juke rival?
On paper, it definitely seems like the pick of the three engines in the line-up. It has by far the most power (123bhp) and only slightly less torque (170Nm) than the 1.5-litre TDCi.
In town that extra performance soon makes its presence felt. The turbo improves throttle response at lower revs, and it feels more eager off the line, with the 0-62mph sprint taking just 12.7 seconds, rather than the sluggish 14 seconds recorded by the diesel.
Combine that extra flexibility with the weighty steering, a precise five-speed manual gearbox and well-judged ride and the EcoSport will engage keen drivers more than the majority of cars in this class.
However, some of the handling magic that makes the Fiesta so good has definitely been lost. The soft-edged suspension allows you to tackle speed bumps with ease, but there’s plenty of body roll, too.
On the motorway and when accelerating hard, the loud thrum of the EcoBoost unit is fairly intrusive, and you can feel vibrations coming through the pedals and steering wheel. It’s no worse than the Fiat Panda TwinAir, but it is noisier than a 0.9TCe equipped Renault Captur, and the lack of refinement can become tiring.
Despite being heavily reworked for European buyers, the cabin materials are hard and scratchy, and although final production cars will get smarter gloss black trim for the centre console, the dashboard is pretty old-fashioned.
Buyers have just two trim levels to choose from and both come with good specification, with all cars getting 16-inch alloys, silver roof rails, a multi-function wheel and SYNC Bluetooth and voice control.
Titanium X models cost an additional £1,000 but benefit from a full leather interior, bigger wheels, auto lights and wipers and cruise control – so a fully kitted EcoSport with the 1.0-litre engine costs £16,995.
The ungainly spare wheel cover makes parking tricky, and if you don’t leave at least a metre of space behind you then opening the swing-door to access the boot is almost impossible – something we can see being a real irritation when parallel parking or reversing into tight multi-storey spaces.