Review: Ford Ecosport

Review: Ford Ecosport
Review: Ford Ecosport

Can the revised Ecosport help Ford make bigger inroads into the small crossover market?

Ford Ecosport 1.0 Ecoboost 140

Price: £17,495
Engine: 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, turbocharged petrol
Power: 138bhp at 6000rpm
Torque: 133lb ft at 1400-4000rpm
Gearbox: 6-spd manual
Kerbweight: 1337kg
Top speed: 116mph
0-62mph: 11.8sec
Fuel economy: 54.3mpg
CO2 rating: 119g/km

The supermini SUV sector is booming, but the Ecosport was slated in road tests when it came out in 2014, leaving Ford with a rather underwhelming offering in an increasingly hot class. This revised Ecosport is meant to fix all that, in one giant leap.

It looks broadly similar, with lines that Ford calls ‘cheeky’. Well, the new front end isn’t cheeky, it’s quite aggressive actually, with a big grille with powerful headlights either side and LED daytime running lights.

Behind all that is a range of engines including a 1.5-litre Ecoblue diesel that makes 124bhp and should be far better than the older 1.5-litre TDCi diesel with 99bhp. The surprise is that the TDCi engine is offered in the new car alongside the new diesel. But many will go for petrol engines, so we’ve tested the revised Ecosport with the three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine making 138bhp.

It’s a fine engine too, with a willingness to head determinedly for the redline, but the issue is that there isn’t that much torque – 133lb ft of it – to back that up. That means the six-speed auto gearbox hunting for lower gears and actually taking a while to go and find the right one. We’d rather have the six-speed manual and regain some control.

Still, it’s quite a nice engine, and it goes with the improved interior. The driver sits with that slightly high SUV position behind a leather steering wheel and the seats feel more supportive than they were. Some of the rather poor-quality plastics and other materials have gone, but some remain. Generally, it’s better.

But none of the areas covered were the real bugbear of the last one. That was the chassis. Ford has improved things here and, trundling along a motorway in top gear, you’ll be pleased with the progress, both of yours and Ford’s. But get off onto B-roads and some of the old problems are not far away.

It’s never easy getting a tall SUV, even a small one, to behave itself at speed, but somehow Ford’s usually deft touch in the handling department is still missing. Handling and ride are both not really controlled properly, as if the engineers just couldn’t get this combination to work right. At town speeds it’s no better and frankly that’s really poor in such a vehicle.

Steering and brakes are really good. But that doesn’t really balance out the negatives. Interestingly, Ford will be making a sporty ST-Line trim available in the Ecosport for the first time. Is a small, tall SUV with handling issues really the right base for sports suspension and an aggressive bodywork package? Ford thinks so, and plans on such a version taking about a third of all Ecosport sales. The sporty suspension does improve the handling, but the chassis just isn’t right, so it doesn’t matter what you tie to it.

Overall, Ford has to have some credit for improving the Ecosport, although that is over what was a lamentably poor original. So, while the little SUV is certainly better in important areas, it can’t ignore the fact that the market has moved on. The Seat Arona, for one, makes this look stodgy and less attractive in comparison.

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