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First drive: Ford EcoSport. Image by Ford.

First drive: Ford EcoSport
Ford takes on the burgeoning B SUV segment with its Nissan Juke rivalling EcoSport.

 



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| First Drive | Barcelona, Spain | Ford EcoSport |

Overall rating: 3 3 3 3 3

Huge growth for supermini-sized SUVs sees Ford adding the EcoSport to its line-up, but it lacks the firm's usual sparkle.

Key Facts

Model tested Ford EcoSport 1.5 Duratorq Titanium
Pricing: 16,495
Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmission: front-wheel drive, five-speed manual
Body style: five-door compact crossover
Rivals: Nissan Juke, Renault Captur, Vauxhall Mokka
CO2 emissions: 120g/km
Combined economy: 61.4mpg
Top speed: 99mph
0-62mph: 14.0 seconds
Power: 91hp at 3,750rpm
Torque: 205Nm at 1,750rpm

In the Metal: 3 3 3 3 3

Small but chunky, the EcoSport's looks are a greatest hits mix of Ford's styling in a Nissan Juke rivalling package. Elements of the Kuga, Fiesta and B-Max combine, though not always entirely successfully, the EcoSport looking a touch awkward from some angles. That's particularly true at the rear, though that is largely down to the positioning of the large spare wheel on the boot lid, rather than a slight of the stylist's pen. That boot is side-hinged too, which makes it problematic opening it in tighter spaces. At least Ford's neat positioning of the door handle in the rear light is some compensation for the door's shortcomings.

Inside it's all but indistinguishable from its relations so there's the usual clear Ford instrumentation and high mounted infotainment system. It is offered optionally with Ford's Sync connectivity package incorporating online apps and web streaming services via your mobile device. Passenger space is good, the rear leg- and headroom generous too, though the boot space suffers as a result. There's plenty of oddment stowage, while 12v sockets at the sides of the rear seats - which have adjustable backrests - are a useful touch.

Driving it: 3 3 3 3 3

Built in India, but engineered in Brazil and based on Fiesta underpinnings, the EcoSport is a truly international effort for a world audience. Those Fiesta underpinnings might bring with it some promise of dynamic leadership, but the EcoSport lacks the sparkle of its more conventional relations. That's perhaps unsurprising given its height, but Ford's usual fine driving character is absent in its new offering. Alone with that, it might look like an SUV, but underneath those chunky looks is a conventional front-wheel drive set-up - at least four-wheel drive is offered in some markets. It's mated here to a 1.5-litre TDCi turbodiesel engine. Unsurprisingly, its 91hp output doesn't endow it with a surfeit of performance, the EcoSport unlikely to be either very eco, or sporty when driven with a full complement of passengers.

That diesel engine gets fairly raucous when pushed too, and delivers little more despite the noise. Keep the revs down and it's quiet enough, while the gearshift is slick and the ratios decently spaced. The gear lever itself would be better positioned a touch higher, particularly if the seat's set at its highest setting. The steering lacks Ford's usual immediacy and is rather light on feel, though body roll is commendably low and the suspension provided a decent ride on the admittedly smooth Spanish tarmac of our test route.

In its class it's not exceptional to drive in any particular area, which is unusual for a car wearing a Ford badge on its bonnet. That might be disappointing to many, but in a sector dominated by the Nissan Juke and populated by some fairly unremarkable to drive rivals the EcoSport feels like Ford has done enough. But only just.

What you get for your Money: 5 5 5 5 5

It might not be busting with excitement behind the wheel but the equipment list is extensive. That's hardly surprising given Ford's first-year run allocation of 4,000 will be exclusively offered in top of the range Titanium specification, which comes with pretty much everything you could possibly want as standard. Indeed, the only real option is a 1,000 leap to Titanium with X pack, which brings larger 17-inch alloy wheels, full leather trim, rain sensing wipers, auto headlamps, an auto dimming rear view mirror and cruise control. Ford's clever Sync system with Applink adds a further 250, while a metallic paint finish costs 495.

Worth Noting

Three engines will be offered on the EcoSport, the EcoBoost 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol, a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol and the 1.5-litre TDCi diesel tested here. All are available with a five-speed manual gearbox, except for the 1.5-litre petrol, which is additionally offered with a six-speed automatic. Ford's people also insist the EcoSport is pronounced 'EchoSport', while EcoBoost is as it sounds.

Summary

The EcoSport is a worthy rather than outstanding addition to the Ford line-up that will give the company a chance to compete in the massive growth market that is the B SUV segment. It might not sparkle like the best Fords, but it's a persuasive enough package to get a few people out of Nissan Jukes, Vauxhall Mokkas and the new French offerings, which is exactly what Ford want it to do.


Kyle Fortune - 11 Dec 2013









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2013 Ford EcoSport. Image by Ford.2013 Ford EcoSport. Image by Ford.2013 Ford EcoSport. Image by Ford.2013 Ford EcoSport. Image by Ford.2013 Ford EcoSport. Image by Ford.



2013 Ford EcoSport. Image by Ford.
 

2013 Ford EcoSport. Image by Ford.
 

2013 Ford EcoSport. Image by Ford.
 

2013 Ford EcoSport. Image by Ford.
 

2013 Ford EcoSport. Image by Ford.
 

2013 Ford EcoSport. Image by Ford.
 






 

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