The Ford Ecosport is a little crossover that's slotted in below the brand's larger Kuga SUV but buyers had issues with the car in its original form and the Blue Oval brand has responded. Jonathan Crouch checks out the changes.
Ten Second Review
The Ford EcoSport uses tried and tested Fiesta mechanicals to offer buyers a front-wheel drive car with added ride height and chunky good looks. Now it's got a smarter interior, cleaner engines, more equipment - and you don't have to carry around a huge great spare wheel on the tailgate. It all sounds quite promising.
Ford didn't rush into bringing us a supermini-based Crossover model. Indeed, the market was awash with the things by the time the brand brought us its own take in this genre, the Fiesta-based EcoSport, in the Spring of 2014. Even so, there were signs that all was not quite right with the product planning. Early buyers questioned the car's refinement, its driving dynamics, its interior and the need to drive around with a huge great spare wheel hanging off the back of the tailgate. Fortunately though, Ford was listening.
So, the brand has already moved to rejuvenate the car. Tweaks to the suspension have improved the ride plus there's greater refinement, a smarter cabin and the option to do without the rear-mounted spare wheel. Otherwise though, this car is much as before, with chunky looks that offer up a bit of Amazonian attitude, even if in truth, this car is more CBeebies than SAS in its take on hostile streetlife. Let's check it out.
The EcoSport still gets the same two engines, one petrol and one diesel, but they've been upgraded to the cleaner EU6.1 standard and the diesel now boasts 117PS, 5PS more than before. Most EcoSport buyers though, will continue to choose the petrol option, Ford's innovative 125 PS 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine. It makes 0-62mph in 12.7s on the way to 112mph. For the 1.5-litre diesel powerplant, you're looking at sixty in around 14s en route to 99mph.
We haven't yet driven the revised version of this car but its n the road dynamics should certainly be improved over those of the original thanks to suspension retuning with revised rear twist beam suspension and more carefully considered spring and damper rates for chassis optimisation, plus a 10mm reduction in ride height and optimised Electronic Stability Control and power steering systems. Crossovers of this kind need to drive as much like the superminis they're based on as possible. From here on, the signs are that this one will.
As before, there's no 4x4 option, but you do get a great raised driving position and a comprehensive package of driver assistance technologies, including Electronic Stability Program and Hill Launch Assist.
Design and Build
Though visual exterior changes to this improved EcoSport model are few, it looks quite different in the guise most will now want - without a rear tailgate-mounted spare wheel. It means that the car's existing attributes come over with a more contemporary air. As before, the almost Aston Martin-style front grille looks good, the glasshouse is elegant, the headlights and wheelarch treatment is very deft and the stance of the car is better than it has any right to be.
Inside, there's a restyled instrument cluster with a chrome surround, a light dimming function, plus there are chrome tips for the window switches and the handbrake lever's easier to get at. Small changes to be sure, but they promise to give the cabin more of a quality feel. For vehicles without the spare wheel, the rear swing-gate has been revised to allow for easier partial opening where space is limited. That side-hinged tailgate still accesses a load space that Ford reckons is big enough to swallow a 560-litre washing machine - once the 60/40 split rear seats are folded, that is.
Market and Model
Expect to pay from around £14,500 for entry-level petrol versions of this car, with a £1,500 premium if you want the Powershift automatic. The 1.5-litre diesel variant starts from just under £16,000. You can also talk to your dealership about a sportier-looking 'S' variant that gets features like a black roof, mirror caps, 17-inch alloy wheels, a rear diffuser and privacy glass. There's are partial leather seats on Titanium models and options include sat nav technology and a rear view camera.
Equipment levels across the mainstream range are strong. Expect to find equipment items like keyless entry, rear parking sensors and Ford's SYNC voice-activated in-car connectivity system as well as SYNC Emergency Assistance. In addition, this crossover offers Ford's SYNC AppLink set-up, which enables customers to voice-control smartphone apps from the driver's seat. Ford SYNC with Emergency Assistance directly connects the vehicle occupants to local emergency services operators after an accident, in the correct language for the region using information from the vehicle's on-board GPS unit and mobile network to pinpoint the accident location.
Cost of Ownership
Economy and emissions aren't too far off the vehicle this car is based upon, the latest Fiesta. There's been some small controversy around the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine not making anything like its claimed fuel economy figures in real world conditions, but that can be said of many small capacity turbocharged petrol engines. It's just a quirk of the NEDC fuel testing program. This 125PS variant claims to manage 53.3mpg on the combined cycle and 125g/km of CO2. Finally, there's the 1.5 TDCi diesel which manages over 60mpg and under 100g/km.
In this guise, the Ford EcoSport looks a more promising prospect. It's more of a crossover and less of a small SUV - which is what buyers seem to want. And, as before, its practical and decently equipped. Ride and refinement are now very good by class standards too - and the SYNC connectivity AppLink system is just brilliant.
All these reasons will combine with the small Crossover segment's current popularity to ensure that Ford will probably sell as many of these as they can import. My daughter, for example, would love one. It is, as ever, a case of giving the market what it wants.