New Ford EcoSport ST-Line 2018 review

Does the addition of ST-Line trim and a more powerful EcoBoost engine turn the Ford EcoSport into a dynamic crossover? We find out...

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

A much improved interior, acceptable performance from Ford’s strong EcoBoost engine and tweaked styling are all welcome attributes and improve the package, but it still feels like Ford is playing catch-up to the rest of the compact crossover pack with the EcoSport. An unsettled ride and so-so driving dynamics hamper it, along with some packaging flaws and unusual quirks. At least this new ST-Line trim gets a good level of kit, but it’s not the sporty small SUV you might think.

Where Ford’s rivals have triumphed with their compact crossovers, the Blue Oval’s offering – the EcoSport – hasn’t exactly been a success. This is the second facelift since it was launched in the UK in 2014 and it’s a more comprehensive round of updates as we’ve already seen from the 1.5 TDCi EcoSport

However, that car didn’t fare much better than its predecessors, so now we’re turning our attention to this new ST-Line trim – a first for the EcoSport – which is powered here by a 138bhp version of Ford’s 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost engine. 

Best crossvers on sale

Confusing nomenclature aside (it’s ‘echo sport’ and ‘ee-co boost’) Ford is trying to reinvent the car once more, so does it cut it as a sporty compact crossover? 

Not quite. The styling revisions give it more appeal, especially in sporty ST-Line spec, but the car doesn’t drive with the sharpness or willingness you might expect. A Mazda CX-3 feels tauter and more responsive, yet it doesn’t sacrifice comfort or ride quality either. 

At least you get plenty of kit on this £21,145 1.0 EcoBoost 140 ST-Line model, with parking sensors, a reversing camera, climate and cruise control, sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and the option to add extra safety kit such as blindspot assist. However, a lack of AEB, even as an option, won’t help it compete against rival compact crossovers. Neither will the harsh plastics throughout the cabin, even if the new dash layout is much improved. 

The EcoSport is based on Ford’s global B-car small platform, the same architecture that underpins the fantastic-to-drive Fiesta. You get hints of this bloodline, but they’re very mild and, combined with its heavier body, the EcoSport’s origin as a vehicle for emerging markets is still apparent.

The steering is sweet enough and with 180Nm of torque produced relatively low down from just 1,500rpm, it pulls acceptably, but it never feels quite as potent as the power output suggests. The 0-62mph sprint takes 11.8 seconds. 

We know how refined the EcoBoost triple is, and even stretching it in more powerful form tested here hasn’t corrupted its composed performance. However, the quiet powertrain only highlights the lack of refinement in other areas. 

There’s an audible whoosh from around the door mirrors and seals, while the ride is on the choppy side. At motorway speeds the EcoSport hops and bobbles around inconsistently, which means it’s not the most relaxing car for cruising.

At least the driving position seats you high up for a good view out, while there’s more room in the rear than, say, that Mazda CX-3 or a Nissan Juke. It’s helped by the high, upright seats, which allow passengers to tuck their feet underneath the chair in front. It’s still not as roomy as the best in the class though.

The 356-litre boot is decent enough and gives a good degree of flexibility thanks to the boxy rear bodywork and uniform shape, but the EcoSport still features the flawed side-hinged tailgate, which doesn’t open on the correct kerb side for UK buyers. 

With claimed efficiency of 54.3mpg and 119g/km CO2 it should be relatively cost effective to run even this most potent turbo petrol model, but this isn’t reason enough to buy one in a crowded class of more talented rivals.

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power
Vauxhall Astra render
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power

The new Vauxhall Astra will get a plug-in hybrid powertrain and a more premium image - here’s how it could look
17 Jun 2021
Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services
Tesla Model 3 police car - front
News

Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services

Tesla hopes to offer UK police forces a new zero-emission emergency responder option with the Model 3 police car
17 Jun 2021
Motorists think they can get away with driving offences due to lack of road police
police speed gun
News

Motorists think they can get away with driving offences due to lack of road police

Lack of road traffic police officers in the UK is making it easy for drivers to break the law, according to a survey of 15,500 British motorists
16 Jun 2021
New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review
Audi Q4 e-tron 2021  front
Audi Q4 e-tron

New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review

We get involved with the new all-electric Audi Q4 e-tron SUV on UK roads for the first time
17 Jun 2021
Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review
Ineos Grenadier prototype
Ineos Grenadier 4x4

Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review

Can the Ineos Grenadier really fill the mud-splattered void left by the old Land Rover Defender? We take a first drive in a prototype to find out...
15 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition revealed
Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition
Ford Puma

Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition revealed

Ford unveils a special edition Puma ST, with a black and gold colour scheme chosen by Ford fans over social media
18 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review
Nissan Qashqai 2021
Nissan Qashqai

New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review

We get behind the wheel of the larger, more comfortable and higher-tech Nissan Qashqai SUV in the UK
16 Jun 2021
New 2021 Hyundai Tucson N-Line hybrid and PHEV on sale now
Hyundai Tuscon N Line - front
Hyundai Tucson

New 2021 Hyundai Tucson N-Line hybrid and PHEV on sale now

Hyundai names price for new Tucson N-Line hybrid duo with plug-in offering 38 miles of electric running
18 Jun 2021
New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review
Skoda Enyaq iV 80 Sportline - front
Skoda Enyaq

New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review

The new Skoda Enyaq iV is the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car and we've tested the full range on UK roads
10 Jun 2021
New Mercedes-AMG S 63 spied in minimal camouflage
Mercedes-AMG S 63
Mercedes S-Class

New Mercedes-AMG S 63 spied in minimal camouflage

AMG will soon launch a tuned version of Mercedes’s flagship limousine, probably powered by a 603bhp twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine
18 Jun 2021
Dacia unveils new badge design
Dacia badge
Dacia

Dacia unveils new badge design

The new Dacia branding will feature on the company’s cars from 2022, with the Bigster being the first candidate
17 Jun 2021
Porsche unveils next-generation PCM infotainment system with Android Auto 
Porsche Communication Management 6.0 911
Porsche

Porsche unveils next-generation PCM infotainment system with Android Auto 

Porsche’s sixth-generation touchscreen will be rolled out across the firm’s line-up, adding new connectivity features and natural voice control
17 Jun 2021