From £15,1204

Dashboard, infotainment, sat-nav and passenger space

The Ecosport’s interior really was a bit of a disgrace and an embarrassment to Ford of Europe back in 2014. The car’s primary mouldings were variously hard, shiny, flimsy and unpleasant, its seats unyielding and its equipment sophistication pretty poor.

Some of that has now changed for the better; but not all. The 2018-model-year version got many of the mouldings and materials adopted by the new Fiesta in the same year; and so the Ecosport now has a pretty complete and usable ‘Sync 3’ 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, smartphone mirroring and FordPass app-based connectivity as standard. It also has a soft-touch moulded dashtop and more up-to-date looking Ford parts bin secondary controls.

Be careful not to parallel park the car close to the car behind. That boot door needs a lot of space to swing open, and you'll need to leave extra room behind it if you're loading to and from the kerb.

You needn’t look very far elsewhere to find the old Ecosport’s cheapness weaseling its way back in, however. The car’s seats (‘sensico’ non-leather on our top-of-the-range test car) remain hard and flat, and while they’re manually adjustable for cushion height and angle as well as backrest angle, they don’t offer adjustable lumbar support. The driving position they put you in is reasonable, although it’ll be a little tight for front-row legroom for the very tall. Ford has refined the car’s steering column adjustment mechanism so it no longer crashes onto your lap when you unlatch it.

On the transmission tunnel, storage cubbies made out of shiny, cheap-looking mouldings let you know you’re in something that hasn’t been specified to Ford’s usual European standards for perceived quality (which, relative to some other brands, isn’t that high anyway). Those in the doors do likewise, and they’re not lined with either rubber or felt so anything hard you drop into them will slide, rattle and clank around a bit.

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Elsewhere, cabin storage is in disappointingly short supply; the car’s armest cubby (a bit wobbly and nastily covered with a shiny rubber pad) is deep but narrow, the glovebox small, and oddment space at the base of the centre stack pretty mean. Passenger space is a little more generous. There’s enough legroom for adults of average height to sit line astern in the car, just about. For that, rival crossovers certainly do better - but the Ecosport’s high roofline does make for a usefully tall boot (handy for those garden centre pot plants) and for good headroom in both rows.

Overall, it’ll be the Ecosport’s shoddy cabin quality that will remain its biggest barrier to convincing customers who know what else their money may buy. Want some more examples? How about a clunky boot parcel shelf that’s so cheap that you have to lift it by hand to get to your boot cargo (and will then inevitably forget to lower it, blocking your rearview mirror visibility almost entirely). Or an OBD port cover (the bit next to the steering wheel where the service engineer plugs in his laptop) so poorly secured that you feel like simply ripping it off and throwing it away? Or sharp, wobbly, unfinished mouldings in the driver’s footwell that you can snag with your feet when changing gear? These are not the stuff of any convincing new car in 2021, and Ford should do much better.