From £15,1207
Ford’s Fiesta-on-stilts compact SUV has some appeal, although it is less interesting to drive than it is to look at

Our Verdict

The first-generation Ford EcoSport
The EcoSport is a front-engined, front-wheel-drive compact crossover

Fiesta-based crossover faces stiff competition. Is it up to the task?

  • First Drive

    2016 Ford Ecosport 1.0 140 Titanium S review

    Ford is steadily improving it's much maligned baby SUV. This 138bhp Titanium S model will complete the revamp when it arrives next June
  • First Drive

    2015 Ford Ecosport 1.0 Ecoboost

    Sharper handling, more refined and better-looking. Still a bit rough around the edges, mind, but now good enough to be a class contender
Matt Burt
28 July 2014

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.

The EcoSport augments the Blue Oval’s SUV range and will sit below the existing Kuga, with the larger Edge completing the three-vehicle line-up when it arrives next year.

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.

Its looks alone could lose the EcoSport as many admirers as it wins, but in a market segment ruled by funky designs such as the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur, Ford has little room for conservatism.

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.

What's it like?

The high-riding driving position, and the clear frontal view it affords, are the most novel aspects of the interior. The rest of the EcoSport – recognisable from other Ford products – is far less adventurous than you might expect given the car’s strong exterior lines, and lacks the pizzazz of rivals such as the Captur.

Still, it majors on practical considerations. Both headroom and legroom are very good, boot space is 310 litres and you can free up a not-inconsiderable 1238 litres by folding and tumbling both elements of the 60:40 split rear bench.

Although mounting the spare wheel on the rear door is a clever way to liberate more boot space, it does feel more like a design-led gimmick. From a practical perspective, it makes the side-hinging door rather heavy and awkward, which could be an issue if you’re grappling with luggage or shopping bags.

It’s clear from the outset that heady performance isn’t the EcoSport’s forte. In the Fiesta, this engine can sprint to 62mph in 9.4sec, while installed in this baby SUV takes a rather more sedate 12.7sec. 

On more twisting roads, though, the EcoSport shows little sign of body roll, cornering with a precision that’s quite pleasing for a supermini-on-stilts. It could even feel like a deft performer were it not for light and not particularly engaging steering that’s presumably set-up to focus on town centre manouvering. 

The ride is composed, with only the most significant of road ruts communicating to the driver. The EcoBoost engine emits its now-familiar three-pot thrum, noticeable but not overbearing during acceleration and at motorway speeds. Those used to the Fiesta might notice a touch more road and wind noise, but it’s not intrusive.

Ford says the EcoSport has some genuine off-roading capability, with 180mm of ground clearance. We did not have the opportunity to test the claim, although the lack of a four-wheel-drive variant in the UK model range suggests the only jungle this model will be seen in is an urban one.

Our short test route in the 1.0-litre EcoBoost returned fuel economy in the low 40mpg region. Although a subsequent drive in the 1.5-litre diesel version returned 45mpg over the same varied roads, the oilburner costs an extra £500.

Should I buy one?

The cost of the EcoSport is competitive in relation to its main rivals, bar the budget-conscious Dacia Duster, although as Ford itself points out, buyers in this segment tend to be attracted more by design appeal than a cheap sticker price.

And whether the EcoSport’s looks appeal compared to, say, the Juke or Mokka will be a purely subjective decision for the prospective buyer.

In such a competitive market sector, though, Ford has made the EcoSport stand out in key areas, particularly with its agreeable (but not dynamic) driving experience, pleasant urban manners and above-par interior space.

Ford EcoSport 1.0 Ecoboost

Price £15,995 0-62mph 12.7sec Top speed 112mph Economy 53.3mpg CO2 125g/km Kerb weight 1350kg Engine 3-cyls, 999cc, turbocharged, petrol Power 123bhp at 6000rpm Torque 125lb ft at 1400-4500rpm Gearbox 5-spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
30

28 July 2014
A Ford that doesn't drive well? Don't they know that's their USP?

Without that, it doesn't seem to offer a lot more than a Vauxhall, say.

And what were they thinking putting the spare wheel on a side hinged door? Is this 1994 all over again?

28 July 2014
the caption for picture 10 says its 9.4 seconds which sounds quite good, the text says 12.7 seconds which sounds more believable for the size of car that it is so which is it?

28 July 2014
Lets hope it's the quicker time, so it can be out of sight faster ........

28 July 2014
"Ford is anticipating that the EcoSport will mop up sales in this fast-growing segment"

Thanks, really needed a laugh today and Ford just helped me.

On a less trivial note, gimmick placing or not at least it comes with a spare wheel...

28 July 2014
Squonk61 wrote:

"Ford is anticipating that the EcoSport will mop up sales in this fast-growing segment"

Thanks, really needed a laugh today and Ford just helped me.

On a less trivial note, gimmick placing or not at least it comes with a spare wheel...

They obvs don't rate the Captur as a rival then. This is one uuuuuugllleeeeeee machine. Inside and out.

28 July 2014
I'm usually a good car-spotter and end up seeing cars that are quite rare on our roads or too new to be a common sight, but I've yet to see an Ecosport on the road. Styling is rather distinctive.

28 July 2014
It's ugly. Very ugly. But then so is the Juke. And people buy that to stand out. So no harm done.

How do they however get away with the rear spare wheel when it clearly obscures the one tail light from the three quarter view? This was the very reason why the Daihatsu Fortrack, Nissan Maverick and the first LR Disco had repeater lights in the bumper BELOW the spare wheel. Has legislation on this changed? Or does Ford just not give a damn?

28 July 2014
From the outset judging by the introduction this reporter has already formed an opinion and it is the usual dismissive manner in which they report anything Ford- Firstly I don't own a Ford but have in the past and must say I wish it was now rather than then as these Fords are leagues ahead of those I drove and also in more ways than one their competition too. The snide remark about a design gimmick about the boot mounted spare is rather shortsighted. My partner is already excited about this car as it is small but big enough to be womanly in and most of all she is more excited about the boot spare, as in the past she had had to get help changing her tyres and ended up very filthy from the mud ridden bottom of the car spare- So maybe its not such a gimmick after all.

The reporter also touched on the fact about its looks, well if people could find themselves buying that hideous thing called the Juke this should be no issues. The Juke is as ugly as the Multipla but the multipla had no reference- What is Nissan's excuse?

2 August 2014
Factczech wrote:

From the outset judging by the introduction this reporter has already formed an opinion and it is the usual dismissive manner in which they report anything Ford

i don't know how much boot-kissing praise you expect them to receive but if you seriously believe that this site is anything other than massively favourable to ford you really need to take off your fanboy glasses and start reading the articles as they are rather than as you are imagining them. ford's products are repeatedly overrated in comparisons with other marques and conclusions drawn in a direction which suits them to an extent that no other maker enjoys, so if negative criticism is aimed at a ford you can bet your bottom dollar it is justified and more.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left

 

2 August 2014
bowsersheepdog wrote:
Factczech wrote:

From the outset judging by the introduction this reporter has already formed an opinion and it is the usual dismissive manner in which they report anything Ford

i don't know how much boot-kissing praise you expect them to receive but if you seriously believe that this site is anything other than massively favourable to ford you really need to take off your fanboy glasses and start reading the articles as they are rather than as you are imagining them. ford's products are repeatedly overrated in comparisons with other marques and conclusions drawn in a direction which suits them to an extent that no other maker enjoys, so if negative criticism is aimed at a ford you can bet your bottom dollar it is justified and more.

Obviously not driven or actually owned a modern Ford then, I suspect given your bitterness you are one of the sheeple who dont buy anything unless it comes from the Fatherland, well more fool you.

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