Ford’s smallest Ecosport had a tough start to life. The crossover wasn’t praised to begin with – its poor driving experience and low-rent cabin not helping to promote the model.
But the good news came towards the end of 2017 when Ford gave the SUV a comprehensive update.
This introduced a new 1.5-litre EcoBlue diesel engine, a vastly improved cabin with better quality materials and a good eight-inch touchscreen.
The updated model also boasts a new look and importantly for sales – a new ST-Line grade, with these versions proving to be popular across the line-up. This brings Ford Performance bumpers, 17-inch alloy wheels, along with a flat-bottomed steering wheel in the cabin and suede sports seats.
Ford offers the choice of one petrol and one diesel engine.
The petrol engine will be the most popular – this being a turbocharged 1.0-itre EcoBoost petrol engine. Buyers have the option of three outputs with this engine – 99bhp, 123bhp and 138bhp. All these units come as standard with a six-speed manual transmission, but with the 123bhp version, there is also the option of a six-speed automatic transmission.
The 138bhp version is the fastest in the line-up – achieving 0-60mph in 10 seconds and reaching a top speed of 115mph.
As for diesel, the unit is a 1.5-litre EcoBlue model, which comes with outputs of either 99bhp or 123bhp. Each comes paired to six-speed manual transmission, with the 123bhp version being the only Ecosport to be offered with all-wheel-drive, because the other engines all send their power to the front wheels.
Ride and handling
The Ecosport offers sharp and precise steering, and is fairly light, which means it’s ideal for around town to nip in and out of traffic. The grip levels are also excellent, which is particularly impressive for a small SUV.
However, the ride feels a touch too firm for something of this size, while there’s a bit more wind and road noise than we would like, too.
Interior and equipment
The last Ecosport’s interior was always one aspect that disappointed, so it’s pleasing to see Ford has invested a lot of time in the latest car to improve it. There’s now plenty of high-quality materials used throughout, with few hard and scratchy plastics remaining. The ST-Line’s cabin is also a good improvement – with highlights being the suede seats and flat-bottomed steering wheel.
The Ecosport, however, could be more practical, particularly because it’s aimed at small families. The rear seats offer enough room for adults, but the boot size is average-sized for its class.
Three trim levels are available – Zetec, Titanium and ST-Line.
Zetec comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, an eight-inch touchscreen with smartphone connectivity, air-conditioning and a leather steering wheel.
The Titanium adds 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless start, part leather seats and a reversing camera with rear parking sensors. At the top of the tree is the ST-Line, which is primarily focused around the looks, with its styling kit, black roof rails, contrast roof and large rear spoiler.
Prices for the Ecosport are competitive, with models starting from £17,850. Against to similarly-powerful rivals from Peugeot, Citroen and Vauxhall, it seems like an affordable option.
The 1.5-litre diesel is the most efficient, too, with that model in 99bhp trim able to return up to 48.7mpg, with CO2 emissions of 110g/km.See Available EcoSport deals
In Ford’s excellent line-up, it was always the Ecosport that managed to just fall shy of the mark. However, that has now changed with this latest version, with a much-improved interior making a lot of difference to the overall package.
Combine affordable prices with lots of standard equipment and a good range of engines and the Ecosport is a small SUV that should certainly be on your shortlist.