Ford EcoSport

What is it?

Ford tell us that their EcoSport is designed for the urban jungle and built to escape it, so I set myself the goal to find out how true that is.

However, after chatting to others about the EcoSport’s on-road prowess, it’s fair to say that I wasn’t really looking forward to our time together - some said it was ‘ok’, others just shook their lowered head, patted me on the shoulder and uttered, “Never mind, you only have it for a week.”

At this point I was expecting to be underwhelmed.

From what I've read about the previous generation EcoSport, all the above comments are justified, but this is new and updated, have Ford listened to their critics? 

On the road

Around town the EcoSport’s 138bhp 3-cylinder petrol engine seemed right at home, it was relaxing, but if I’m honest, a little bit dull. For the first 5 days that was perfectly acceptable as it was simply used for commuting and shopping.  Maybe I was expecting to be underwhelmed, and consequently anything would be better than I expected?  No, that wasn’t it at all, because I was actually enjoying driving it.

However, what was lurking around the corner was a 6 hour, 290 mile trip up to Kirriemuir in Scotland. This could be a game changer, its demise, the little car's nemesis, and so on...

When we planned this trip I’d organised for us to have a V8 Mustang, but a confusion in the booking procedure meant, well, I couldn’t have one, hence the EcoSport.

With bags and cases loaded into the hatch, I set the cruise control to 70ish mph and set forth up north on the M6, and for the next 6 or so hours the Ecosport did us proud.  We averaged 40.4mpg, according to the computer, and it was actually a very comfortable ride.  The seats aren’t at all supportive in a bucket seat sense, more like a squishy slim armchair, but after our long jaunt I was as relaxed as I had been when we first set off.

As a motorway basher I found the EcoSport both comfortable and relaxing, but if you want umph to overtake something in a hurry - nah, that ain’t going to happen, you can only ask the 3-cylinder engine to do so much.

Visibility all around is great, though I couldn’t see the point of the little windows at the bottom of the ‘A’ pillar.  The distance from the drivers seat to the base of the windscreen is quite lengthy which gives the illusion of you being in a much larger car, as does the tall ride height.  

Driving around Scotland with four adults wasn’t as bad as I’d been expecting either, the ride was good, as was the gearing.

Despite its lack of outright grunt, I really couldn't complain about the EcoSport's performance, it isn't exactly what I'd call sprightly, but at motorway speeds it performed admirably.

Off road

I read somewhere that the EcoSport has a better wading depth than a Land Rover Defender, which just makes me smile.

As you can see it has a fantastic amount of ground clearance for such a short car, with great approach and departure angles too.  On my usual wheel up session, where I drive the front wheel into a gully until the rear wheel is in the air, get out and take photos, then get back in and drive off, it managed it without any hesitation or wheel spin. The intelligent AWD system uses witchcraft, and other stuff I don’t understand, so it works very well.

On our way up to Scotland we had a slight detour along a dry and rutted lane which has a ford running through the centre.  It waded through the ford, and up the slightly dusty corrugated incline, on which it only scrambled for grip once, it soon gained its composure and carried on to the top.

I didn’t want to take the EcoSport too far off-the-beaten-track as the press car didn’t have a spare tyre, not even a space saver, so I really didn’t want to run the risk of having a puncture.  I’ll get to that later.

After quite a downpour the previous evening the ground was quite muddy, but the little EcoSport managed the steepish incline without a fuss.  I have to admit that I had my doubts, especially on its tyres, but it proved me wrong, again.

The EcoSport has an approach angle of 21˚ (834mm) and departure of 33.3˚ (742mm) and ramp break over angle 23.3˚.  Ground clearance 190mm for the petrol and 160mm for diesel.

Interior

Apart from the silly, stuck on, afterthought looking media screen, I didn’t mind the EcoSport’s interior.  The seats are a tad narrow, but very comfortable for our 6-hour blast to Scotland.

As a passenger though there was a problem in that the passenger seat was fixed height, and both Muddy Madam and young Keiran moaned that the nearside windscreen wiper wasn’t cleaning their field of view; more so Muddy Madam as she’s taller, and of course moans the loudest.

Whilst I’m moaning, rear passenger legroom is pretty much non-existent, which to be fair is normal for a car this size. Having said that, comments from the rear when loaded with 3 back seat drivers were positive for comfort, shoulder and head room.

The Ecosport has a side-opening tailgate which I quite liked, though it was a bit of a nuisance when trying to access the rear whilst in car parks, especially if you’re, like me, the type of person who prefers to reverse into spots.  Plus, as the top of the tailgate curves inwards, on the corner where the hinges are there’s a super pointy bit that’s a perfect height for catching your head. I had a couple of bruises, because apparently I don’t learn my lesson.

I was pleasantly surprised by the rest of the interior, all the dash and surrounding panels are covered in soft touch materials, which is a nice touch - nice touch, see what I did there?

Engine ‘n’ transmissions

The EcoSport is available with either a 1.0ltr 3-cylinder petrol with 125ps and 140ps outputs and a 1.5ltr diesel with 100ps.  I was going to write all the specs down, then I realised I could just copy and paste them. Don’t judge me.

Conclusion

Although the EcoSport won’t set pulses racing for the typical motoring enthusiast, around town and on interminable motorway journeys when you can just leave it in cruise it will happily take you where you want in comfort.

If you’re buying an AWD EcoSport because you want its AWD capability, please make sure that it has either a space-saver or the full size spare.  In standard form you get a pump and some gunk, which we all acknowledge is both pretty much useless in most cases and a terrible cost saving exercise for manufacturers.  You can order a space-saver if you want, but there’s actually nowhere to store it, therefore for an extra £150 which you’re better off ordering the full size spare that sits on the tailgate like a proper 4x4.  You may or may not like the look of it, but personally I think it’s essential.

The EcoSport certainly has the ground clearance, as well as the approach and departure angles, to cope with more rugged terrain, and judging by the options list it’s aimed at the adventurist - sturdy roof rails for bikes, canoes and a roof box. I can see how it will fit someone’s active lifestyle and I have no doubt that it’ll perform. 

Overall I enjoyed my week with the new EcoSport and I reckon that Ford have done a great job with this version as by all accounts the original was a bit of a damp squib. If I had another jaunt planned up to Scotland, or even further afield, I wouldn’t be disappointed if I was handed its keys again.

Website: www.Ford.co.uk
Prices from £17,295 Zetec - £20,095 ST-Line