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Can the updated Ford Ecosport improve its reputation and become the small SUV of choice, or is it another misguided effort from the Blue Oval?

Our Verdict

Ford Ecosport

The 'One Ford' project child may not of got off to an auspicious start, but is this Fiesta-based Ecosport up to the task of rivalling the best crossovers on the market?

18 January 2018

What is it?

This is the updated version of Ford’s troubled Ecosport, a compact SUV that was given a rather rough time when first reviewed by us back in 2013.

We’ve already sampled the 2018 model in Portugal, but now we’re putting it under the microscope on home turf for the first time.

Ford will no doubt expect to see the Ecosport's popularity increase. SUV sales in Europe continue to grow, and the manufacturer predicts that one in every three new cars sold by 2020 will come from this segment, with compact models accounting for a generous portion of that figure.

Rival firms haven’t been lazy when it comes to launching their own contenders, either, which only makes the Ecosport’s job of standing out even tougher.

Ford is keen to point out that the revised Ecosport features 2300 new parts, although the basic layout remains largely the same.

For the suspension, that means independent MacPherson struts up front with a torsion beam at the rear. However, Ford says that it has now tuned the Ecosport’s chassis specifically with European drivers in mind.

A familiar engine line-up is also present. Kicking things off is the 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol, which is available in both 123bhp and 138bhp guises, while a 98bhp 1.5-litre TDCI is the sole diesel offering. A four-wheel-drive 1.5-litre Ecoblue diesel model will join the range mid-year.

The most noticeable change, however, is the revised exterior. Where the original Ecosport looked overly cutesy and cartoonish, this new model looks far more purposeful. The trapezoidal grille has been enlarged, while angular foglight housings help complete a front three-quarter profile that Ford claims was inspired by rucksack straps. Supposedly these hint at the Ecosport’s “adventurous character”. Make of that what you will.

What's it like?

Petrol variants, particularly the 123bhp Ecoboost, will make up the vast majority of Ecosport sales in the UK, so that’s what we’re driving here.

Our test car was in entry-level Zetec trim, which will set you back from £17,495 and includes standard features such as 16in alloys, a 6.5in infotainment touchscreen, a DAB radio and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring.

While we didn’t have too much cause for complaint so far as equipment is concerned, the same can’t quite be said of the way the Ecosport drives – European tuning and all.

Now, Ford can make a good car - just look at the excellent new Fiesta - but the Ecosport apple seems to have fallen rather far from the proverbial tree.

There’s no real environment in which this car truly feels in its element. Around town, the ride is noticeably firm - even on the 16in alloys of our test car - while on faster country roads, there's a worrying sense of skittishness that meant you can never feel properly confident in the car’s dynamic abilities.

The uneven surfaces that are so prevalent here in Britain only serve to further upset the Ecosport, while undulations create noticeable vertical movement. Sudden directional changes expose considerable amounts of lateral roll and cause the Ecosport to feel decidedly top-heavy.

This body roll is mitigated ever so slightly by the sports suspension fitted to the ST-Line model, but this has the adverse effect of making the car feel even more nervous over pockmarked roads. The Ecosport is by no means dangerous in its set-up, but next to rivals such as the Seat Arona, it's left wanting dynamically.

Out on the motorway, the Ecosport settles down considerably. The only real complaint here is a good deal of wind noise around the door mirrors. This is drowned out by road noise if you go for the ST-Line model with optional 18in alloys.

The Ecosport isn’t without its merits, though. The steering, for instance, is consistent and well-weighted, while the pedals are sensibly spaced and easy to operate. Adult passengers won’t feel uncomfortable when sitting in the back either, with decent head and leg room.

Ford's Ecoboost engines are also impressive. We sampled both 123bhp and 138bhp variants, and neither feel like they aren't up to the task of getting the Ecosport up to speed.

And the six-speed manual gearbox, while a bit long in the throw, feels direct and purposeful in its action.

Should I buy one?

The Ecosport remains a tough car to recommend. Sure, it’s relatively spacious and well equipped, but so is a Volkswagen Polo, which not only costs more than £1500 less on a like-for-like basis but also offers a far better drive – if a little less power.

If you’re really set on the idea of a compact SUV, Seat’s class-leading Arona is the current go-to model, owing to its composed ride and more attractive looks.  And even if you’re absolutely adamant you want a small, high-riding Ford, it's probably worth waiting for the forthcoming Fiesta Active, which will arrive later this year.

Simon Davis

Ford Ecosport 1.0 Ecoboost 125 Zetec

Where London On sale Now Price £17,495 Engine 3cyls, 999cc, turbocharged petrol Power 123bhp at 6000rpm Torque 125lb ft at 1400-4500rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual Kerbweight 1280kg Top speed 111mph 0-62mph 12.7sec Fuel economy 54.3mpg CO2 rating 119g/km Rivals Seat Arona, Renault Captur, Kia Stonic, Citroën C3 Aircross

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Comments
18

18 January 2018

Ford should do the decent thing and put the Ecosport to bed. This revised version looks better, and appears better than the original, but it's still not what you call even half decent. It's looks are questionable, the quality is naff, dynamics are poor and refinement isn't great. It's a safe bet to say that it is by far the worse car on sale in the UK. Come on Ford you can do much better than this so here's hoping that if you do replace it with an all-new model, it'll be terrific.

18 January 2018

So Ford sprinkled it with glitter instead.

It is still a turd.

Steam cars are due a revival.

18 January 2018

This is one of the global cars it seems shouldn’t of come over.

I can’t see how it can by so naff to drive when the basics underneath it are very good in the Fiesta.

I think Ford need to go back to the drawing board with this one... 

18 January 2018

That is a steaming turd, no doubt. the redesign 'X-factor' front-end is a disaster, and for 123hp those performance figures are woeful. It's quite a little porky thing at 1300kg. At least the fiesta interior is an improvement. 

18 January 2018

...and it will be (I guess) the second missed model made by Ford after the late B-Max in Romania (Craiova, ex-Daewoo plant and also older Citroen-licensed Axel production place in the eighties - remember it?... what a mess.)

While being myself a romanian (and involved in the local motoring press), I d love to be a commercial success, but the hopes are extremely slim -- although the current SUV-crossover-mania should have influenced the Blue Oval marketeers. 

 

 

-- Old fart with petrol in veins, so off the e-cars grid literally --

18 January 2018
BeamMeUpScotty wrote:

...and it will be (I guess) the second missed model made by Ford after the late B-Max in Romania (Craiova, ex-Daewoo plant and also older Citroen-licensed Axel production place in the eighties - remember it?... what a mess.)

So what exactly has this car to do with the Citroen licenced cars produced there in the '80s??

18 January 2018
autocar wrote:

Ford is keen to point out that the revised Ecosport features 2300 new parts

For all the car's flaws, no mention of the worst - rear door opening, which ford haven't changed.

Why go to all the trouble of designing a small SUV when you need a car parking space the length of a Mondeo estate to open the rear door? Perhaps OK out on an African safari but not in Sainsburys car park.

 

18 January 2018

Still not a brilliant car...but it's made in India so no doubt Ford make a good margin when they sell it in the UK

18 January 2018

...mentioning the old Citroen Axel production in the actual romanian plant owned by Ford; anyway, such historical data might even be interesting for some neophytes (see some other s convinction that the *new* EcoSport is made in India !!)

More than that -- in a more subtle approach -- I am a little bit disppointed by your lack of... british humor. ;-) Because I ve also suggested some kind of a... local bad spell bound to  Craiova, since here seems to be made now the 3rd ill-fated car...

-- Old fart with petrol in veins, so off the e-cars grid literally --

18 January 2018

Still far too expensive an entry price of £12500 might be a bit more realistic,why after Ford have invested all this money in the plant in Romania the best that Ford can do is transfer production of this second rate product from India. Something tells me that it won't be long before Ford of Europe goes the same way as Opel being sold off by it's US parent

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