Ford EcoSport Review
The Ford EcoSport is a small SUV with Tonka-toy looks and agile handling. Unfortunately, the latter comes at the expense of comfortable suspension and the boot isn’t very practical
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What's not so good
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If you’re after a small SUV with room for four adults and that’s refreshingly fun to drive for a high-riding car, then the Ford Ecosport should be on your list of test drives.
The Ecosport was given a comprehensive update in 2017 when it got chunkier exterior styling, a new interior, a new diesel engine and the option to have four-wheel drive. Sporty ST-Line trim is the most eye-catching – going for it brings 17 paint colours and four contrasting roof shades to help the EcoSport stand out from the crowd. Well, y’know, as much as possible in a sea of other small SUVs.
The Ecosport’s interior isn’t quite so eye-catching, but the top half of the dashboard is made from soft-touch plastics that make it feel better built than the cabins you’ll find in the Hyundai Kona and the Citroen C3 Aircross. Compared with the Citroen, though, Ford’s general design is pretty humdrum.
On the upside, the EcoSport’s 8-inch infotainment system is clearer and easier to use than the system in the Citroen. And it comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, so it’s easy to make phone calls, play music and navigate using the apps on your smartphone.
Unfortunately, the Ford EcoSport doesn’t do so well in terms of practicality. Front and back-seat space are decent for this size of car – the EcoSport has room for two tall adults – but the Citroen C3 Aircross is roomier and also has more adjustment to help your passengers get comfortable.
The EcoSport is nimble for a car like this, but most families would rather it was a little more comfortable
The Ford EcoSport’s problems aren’t limited to rear passenger space – the boot is quite a bit smaller than the Citroen’s and the tailgate hinges from the side of the car, so you can’t open it when you’re backed up against a wall or another vehicle.
On the upside, when you drive the Ford EcoSport, you’ll find its nimbleness in corners is pretty rare for a car like this. Its heavy steering gives you a decent idea how much grip the car has in bends and there’s barely any body roll to put you off driving quickly.
That being said, all of the Ford EcoSport’s engines focus on fuel economy rather than speed. For most people, the 1.0-litre 125hp petrol will be the one to have, because it’s cheap to buy and reasonably nippy in town. The precise controls, easy-changing gearbox and decent view out help you drive the Ford EcoSport smoothly in town and the cabin is pretty quiet on the motorway.
Less good news is the fact that it’s not available with automatic emergency braking, which you can have on the C3 Aircross.
Negatives like this – plus the impractical boot and the firm ride – mean the C3 Aircross is better suited to family life than the Ford EcoSport. Nevertheless, if you’re sold on the Ford’s looks and are happy to swap comfort for nimble handling, the EcoSport may well be the small SUV for you. If so, take a look at the very latest Ford EcoSport deals.
The EcoSport’s front seats come with plenty of adjustment, but its back seats are quite cramped and its boot is small
Got three friends you wish would get to know each other better? Just pop them in the back of the EcoSport and they’ll be all over each other in no time
The EcoSport’s boxy dimensions mean there’s loads of room in the front – even if you’re tall, you won’t be brushing your hairdo on the car’s high roof. All models come with a steering wheel that adjusts up and down as well as in and out, and a driver’s seat that adjusts for height – so if you’re small you can get a good view out of the front of the car.
Lumbar adjustment is also standard, helping you stave off back ache on a long journey. The news isn’t so good for your front-seat passenger though – they don’t get lumbar support or height adjustment for their seat.
Your rear seat passengers will be happy enough, however, because the EcoSport has enough knee room to accommodate a couple of six-footers in the back, even with tall adults in the front seats. A Citroen C3 Aircross has a bit more room again.
That said, the Ford only ever starts to feel tight in the back when you load it with three people. Its narrow body means elbow room is at a premium and your passengers’ hips will feel like they’ve been fused together. Foot room is also in short supply because of the large hump in the centre of the floor and the fact that there’s not a lot of room in the footwells behind the front seats. In fairness, the middle seat itself is actually quite comfortable and doesn’t have the perched feeling you get sitting on the one in the Citroen C3 Aircross.
The Ford loses points when you come to fitting a child seat, though. Its small rear doors don’t leave a huge amount of room to lift the seat through and the problem’s exacerbated because the doors don’t open very wide. If that’s not bad enough, the Isofix points are hidden under the seat fabric, so getting a baby seat clicked into place is a little awkward.
The EcoSport has a good variety of handy storage spaces. To start with, the front door bins are huge – big enough to swallow a two-litre bottle of water with lots of room left over for a couple of smaller bottles. And although the glovebox isn’t huge, it’s bigger than the one you get in the Citroen C3 Aircross.
Things in the back aren’t so good though. Rear-seat passengers get no cupholders and only small door bins. That said, the two 12V power sockets – hidden in little trays next to each back door – are a rare addition in a car like this and will be handy if you need to charge electricals or give the back seat a spruce up with a portable vacuum.
The EcoSport has a boot that’s puny compared to the space you can get in a Citroen C3 Aircross. Another big downside is the Ford’s boot door that hinges from the left-hand side of the car, so you can’t open it if you park tight against a wall or another vehicle.
Sadly, there aren’t a huge number of positives when you get the boot open. It has an adjustable floor as standard but this handy feature is negated by the low and protruding rear bumper that you have to lift heavy luggage over.
The boot’s narrow shape makes loading bulky items a pain – the C3 Aircross’ load bay is nice and square by comparison – but you do get a couple of hooks to keep your shopping bags from spilling out their contents. Once you’ve loaded a stroller and a couple of soft bags you won’t have room for a lot else.
Even when you fold the Ecosport’s rear seats down there’s not a huge amount of room. The seats fold in a 60:40 split via a couple of latches next to the rear headrests. The load bay that’s created by flipping the seats down isn’t the biggest but it’s still big enough to fit a bike with just one wheel detached.
The EcoSport doesn’t roll in bends and has steering that gives you the confidence to drive quickly, but it’s very bouncy over bumpy roads and the petrol engines struggle with the car’s weight.
The EcoSport goes around corners well but that's at the expense of comfort over bumpy roads
The Ford EcoSport is available with a choice of three petrol engines and two diesel units.
If you rarely venture out of town, you’re best off going for one of the petrol engines. All are based on the same 1.0-litre EcoBoost unit tuned to produce either 125 or 140hp. The 125hp model has the best blend of pace and fuel economy – Ford claims it will return 54.3mpg – although you can probably knock 10mpg off that in the real world.
The 100hp version of the 1.5-litre diesel isn’t particularly perky, and struggles to keep up with fast-moving motorway traffic. It costs more than a 1.0-litre petrol but will return better fuel economy – drive carefully and you’ll see a figure close to 60mpg.
The new 125hp 1.5-litre EcoBlue model costs considerably more than the 140hp petrol, but it has more low-down power for overtaking on the motorway. The petrols seem a little wheezy by comparison, aren’t as quiet, and won’t be as cheap to run – Ford claims the 1.5-litre diesel will return 69mpg, but you can expect it to manage around 60mpg in normal driving conditions.
If you’re going to be driving a lot in town you might also be tempted by the optional automatic gearbox. At normal speeds, it shuffles through its six gears smoothly but the quicker you go the more it dents the performance of the 125hp 1.0-litre petrol (the only engine it is available with) and its gear changes become jerky if you floor it.
Another option you might want to go for – and a first for the EcoSport – is four-wheel drive. It gives the Ford lots of grip that’ll be handy for slippery roads or if you’re towing. It’s only available in ST-Line models with the 1.5-litre 125hp diesel engine and sets you back extra over the standard front-wheel-drive model.
The Ford EcoSport goes around corners surprisingly well for a small SUV, but if you’re looking for an SUV that smooths out bumpy roads you’ll be much better off with a Citroen C3 Aircross. Even EcoSport Zetec and Titanium EcoSport models feel pretty firm – their suspension skips and jolts over bumps – but ST-Line models’ sportier springs are even harder.
On the upside, both models can go around corners with less dramatic body roll than in the Citroen, and the Ford’s weightier steering gives you a better sense of how much grip the car has.
The EcoSport isn’t available with automatic emergency braking that’ll safeguard you from low-speed shunts in town. If you can put up with the bumpy suspension though, the Ford is an easy car to drive in the city with controls that are progressive enough to avoid jerky driving at slow speeds.
Cyclists might be hard to spot thanks to the wide pillars at the rear of the car but the large back windscreen gives you a decent view out when parking and all but Zetec models come with parking sensors and a reversing camera.
The latest infotainment system is a massive improvement over the old EcoSport, but although its interior has been revised, it still can’t hold a candle to what you get in most alternatives