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 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 almost £900 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 £1,000 more than the 140hp petrol, but it has more lowdown 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.
The EcoSport goes around corners well but that's at the expense of comfort over bumpy roads
If you’re going to be driving a lot in town you might also be tempted by 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 an extra £1,150 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.
Chances are you’re not going to be driving your small SUV like a sports car, so more relevant is the fact that the EcoSport only suffers from a little wind noise at motorway speeds, which means it’s not tiring over long distances. Safety is decent enough – the Ford was awarded four stars when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP – but that was back in 2013 and the Citroen C3 Aircross has since been awarded five stars under 2017’s far tougher test conditions.
Part of the reason for this is that 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.