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Steering, suspension and ride comfort

Some progress has evidently been made in bringing the Ecosport’s chassis, suspension and steering up to snuff here. The car had much improving to do when we last tested one in 2014, of course, having quite a tenuous hold on the road, an intrusive and unsophisticated stability control system and a thumping, coarse ride.

Now, we might characterise it as just about adequate. Even on those raised springs, the car certainly isn’t the soft, unresponsive, high-sided prospect you might it to be, and now grips the road competently enough. 

Reasonable steering and chassis balance, but an only average show overall

Vertical body control is respectable as a result of a Ford-typical medium-firm ride, and so the car doesn’t start to wallow or heave at speed, although it does fidget and sproing its way along certain kinds of surface. It also has a tendency to teeter slightly as it turns. Perhaps it’s the long-travel suspension, but there’s a slight sense of a mismatch between the car’s medium-fast steering response and the angle to which the body initially wants to lean before settling into a cornering stance. That, plus the woolly, elastic and over-assisted feel of the steering, will keep driver enthusiasm levels pretty low.

The car’s stability control system is markedly better than it was, too, aided greatly no doubt by the improvement to mechanical grip level delivered by those Pirelli tyres. Though always active to some extent, it can be dialled back into ‘sport’ mode if you must (although, trust us, you won’t) and generally saves its interventions until boorish mid-corner throttle applications would otherwise set-up serious understeer, or bold speed-carrying ambitions might cause the car to roll to extremes. 

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The Ecosport’s hold on loose, muddy or grassy surfaces isn’t something that we had cause to explore, and it’s safe to assume that most European buyers won’t explore it, either. Ironically, even though there’s no 4x4 option, the car feels like one designed with the robustness to survive broken, unsealed roads rather than the subtlety to ease itself over European ones.

The Ecosport’s ground clearance is more generous than that of many full-sized 4x4s. though. It’ll even wade through deeper water than an old-school Land Rover Defender. Some compact crossovers beat it on approach angle, but not by much. In light of which, the decision to exclude a 4x4 version may be considered a shame.