£15,345 - £18,295 Price range
44 - 64 MPG
The Ford EcoSport is a small city SUV that is easy to drive and cheap to buy. Its closest rivals are the Nissan Juke, the Renault Captur and the Peugeot 2008. A more upmarket option is the Mercedes GLA.
At a glance the interior looks identical to that of a Fiesta, but tell us that build quality is lower and most of the plastics look and feel cheaper. Passengers in the front have plenty of legroom and even more headroom thanks to the high roof, but passengers in the rear will find the seats neither comfortable nor supportive.
All Fords are nice to drive… Well, all except the EcoSport. The high body coupled with a 300kg weight increase over a Fiesta make it lean a lot in corners. The trade off is that you get a high driving position that gives a great overview of the road ahead. The ride is mostly good, except on the worst of surfaces, but wind noise is high thanks, mostly, to the large door mirrors.
Out of the three available engines for the EcoSport, the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol is the best bet. It uses more fuel and is slower than direct rivals, but is much better than either of the other options from its own stable. Its low fuel consumption means the 1.5-litre diesel is good if you frequently travel long distances, but with its poor performance, time keeping could well be an issue.
Where the EcoSport scores some points back is in its generous equipment levels – even the base model gets alloy wheels, LED lights, air-conditioning and Ford’s multimedia and phone connectivity system. The top of the range Titanium model gets half-leather seats, cruise control as well as keyless entry. Rear parking sensors are a recommended optional extra that make the car much easier to park.
Design-wise you’ll see a lot of Fiesta in the EcoSport’s interior, but from there things start to go downhill. Cabin materials and even build quality are widely berated, with scratchy, shiny black plastics covering every surface – flying in the face of the Fiesta’s high standards of build quality.
Ford EcoSport passenger space
At least there’s plenty of space front and rear thanks to the EcoSport’s tall body, but passengers in the back will have to endure a seat that’s neither comfortable nor supportive. They are at least accessible thanks to the car’s standard five-seat configuration.
Ford EcoSport bootspace
With a 333-litre capacity, the EcoSport’s boot is bigger than you’ll get in a larger Ford Focus and with the rear seats down that extends to a healthy 1,238 litres.
In the case of the EcoSport, though, good news follows bad, so while the load bay is big, accessing it can be a tricky thanks to a side-hinged tailgate that you can’t fully open if, say, the car is parked tight against a wall. Also, you don’t get the underfloor storage you do get in your shiny new Vauxhall Mokka.
If there’s one company that you can rely on to make even a dreary car drive well, it’s Ford. But the EcoSport proves that everyone has an off day. The steering and damping are up to grade at least, but it lollops around at pace. Okay, so the 4×4 body style might not encourage you to throw the EcoSport around as much as you would a Fiesta, but Ford has managed to retain the sporty road car feel in the much larger Kuga.
It’s reasonably comfortable at cruise, but the suspension can get quite fidgety on more horrible surfaces at low speeds. In all fairness, this doesn’t mark it out as particularly unique amongst similarly lacklustre competition, but it’s a Ford and it shouldn’t be like this.
Three engines appear in the EcoSport, two of which are very familiar – Ford’s four-cylinder 1.5 TDCi ‘Duratorq’ diesel in 90hp specification and the now-famed 1.0 EcoBoost three-cylinder, with 123hp. Making up the range is a 1.5 litre petrol four-cylinder with 110hp.
Ford EcoSport diesel engines
The diesel is suggested by some as the better unit with a little more low-revs response and better real-world economy, but others reckon it’s a raucous unit with poor performance. The 14 seconds it takes to get to 62mph speak for themselves.
Ford EcoSport petrol engines
On the road the EcoBoost EcoSport feels lively but its performance and economy is blunted by the crossover’s bluff profile and higher weight – 300 kilos more than the equivalent Fiesta. The conventional petrol sits between the other two for performance, but fuel economy is well down. It’s the only engine available with an automatic gearbox, if you need to specify one. Ordinarily there’s little wrong with either engine, though neither really shines in this distinctly average crossover.
Available in the range-topping Titanium S, the 138hp version of the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine is borrowed from the Fiesta. Despite the ‘sport’ in its name, a 0-62mph time of 11.8 seconds means that there’s nothing sporty about the driving experience – some large people carriers will be faster. And, with a combined fuel economy figure of 52mpg and £110 annual road tax ,it’s not the cheapest to run in class, either. For comparison the Peugeot 2008 with a 130hp petrol engine costs only £20 a year in road tax and, returning 58mpg, is marginally better on fuel.
Its low rating here is more a symptom of the car's shortcomings than the engine, and for some testers it's still the unit to go for. Drivers say it feels more eager than the diesel, and another is impressed that such a tiny engine can now be used in a crossover like the EcoSport at all.
However, it can be a little noisy at speed - the EcoSport isn't as refined as the Fiesta it's based on - and neither on-paper nor real-world economy are spectacular. Good engine, but there are better cars out there.
Several testers say the diesel suits the car's character best, with decent low-revs torque, it's quieter at speed and a little more responsive.
It's particularly raucous though, according to one reviewer - with not a lot of performance to show for it. Economy will also suffer if you start piling people on board and attempt to make up for its performance deficit.
The EcoSport contrives to amaze and disappoint in equal measures on the safety front. It’s crash test score for adult occupant safety is almost peerless – passenger safety is exemplary. Yet Euro NCAP only awarded the little SUV four stars, thanks to an average child safety performance and distinctly last-generation scores for pedestrian safety and safety assists.
It’s worth noting that the EcoSport’s aggregate score puts it 1% away from a fifth star and you can easily grab the equivalent by specifying some of the additional safety kit featured in the Titanium X pack, or by selecting the Ford SYNC system with emergency assist.
The EcoSport is beginning to show its age in the constantly evolving crossover supermini class and compared to rivals it does not offer such great value for money – the Peugeot 2008 feels better built and can be cheaper to run, while a Renault Captur definitely looks better.
Ford EcoSport Zetec
The EcoSport avoids the lower trim levels on Ford’s other models instead kicking of with mid-range Zetec trim. That means all models come with air-conditioning, remote central locking, all round electric windows and an alarm.
Ford EcoSport Titanium and Titanium S
The only other models offered are the top-of-the-range Titaniums, which bring partial leather seats, keyless entry, auto lights and wipers, cruise control and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. The Titanium S adds gloss black 17-inch alloy wheels and roof, climate control and privacy glass.
It’s rare that Ford brings out a new product that counts as disappointing but the EcoSport is that product. In fairness, quite a chunk of that disappointment is down to the fact that it isn’t as good as it could be, rather than because it’s truly bad. It doesn’t take any kind of fight or unique selling point to the myriad of class rivals and it’s phenomenally difficult to recommend over them for this reason.
If you absolutely must have a crossover and it must be a Ford, you’ll probably get on okay with the EcoSport. But most drivers would be better served by one of its rivals, or simply buying a regular Fiesta instead.