What is it?
A startled blowfish. A cartoon character. A cheerful balloon. The look of the new Ford EcoSport has been likened to many things, but it is certainly distinctive.
Based on the B-class vehicle platform that also underpins the Fiesta, and built at the Chennai plant in India, Ford is anticipating that the EcoSport will mop up sales in this fast-growing segment, where buyers traditionally put more emphasis on appealing design than on price or dynamic ability. Hence the dramatically bluff front-end styling and aggressive stance.
Ford’s strategy with the EcoSport is to keep it simple. A limited range of engines is offered, and at present the only gearbox option is a five-speed manual, but a six-speed Powershift dual-clutch automatic transmission is due early next year on the more powerful 1.5-litre petrol variant.
There isn’t much scope for overloading the EcoSport with extras either; Ford offers all cars in Titanium trim, with the option of upgrading with a Titanium X pack which costs £1000 and adds full leather, cruise control and 17in alloys in place of the standard 16in items. Ford expects half of EcoSport buyers to choose the package.
Beyond that, there are few cost options, among them Ford’s Sync connectivity package (costing £250), metallic paint (£495) and rear parking sensors (£210).
The EcoSport is on its second generation in South America, where it was first introduced back in 2003, but this is the first version to reach Europe. It is still a rare sight on UK roads, and this was our first opportunity to drive one in this country.