Patience proves a virtue for Ford’s EcoSport

Ecosport takes Ford into the compact sport utility vehicle market.

Ecosport takes Ford into the compact sport utility vehicle market. - Credit: Ford

Ford is rarely first to market with new models but its EcoSport compact sport utility vehicle is proof that being patient has its rewards, writes Iain Dooley of the Press Association.

If you've been looking for a mini sport utility vehicle you may have noticed the absence of Ford representation in this rapidly-growing sector. The Blue Oval has finally fixed this omission with the EcoSport, boasting familiar Ford driving and design characteristics and a trio of engines promising to be kind on your wallet.

As befits a sector focused more on urban agility than the ability to climb every mountain, the EcoSport is front-wheel drive only. You've the choice of Ford's awarding-winning three-cylinder, 125PS 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol motor, a conventional 112PS 1.5-litre petrol and frugal 91PS 1.5-litre, four-cylinder turbo diesel.

Riding more than a little higher than a Fiesta, the EcoSport offers drivers a commanding view of the road. Despite its 'compact' tag Ford's mini SUV's cabin is surprisingly spacious, and there's enough room for four adults or, more importantly, a growing family.

Bash-proof plastics abound in the cabin which, while coming close to that of a Fiesta or Focus, are the obvious sign of the EcoSport's low-cost roots. Still, what you can see and touch is of a good standard, and the controls and displays will be familiar to Ford owners.

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Also pleasing is Ford's generosity when it comes to standard equipment. Focusing initially on high-grade Titanium spec, the EcoSport lacks very little in real terms with keyless ignition, alloy wheels, air-conditioning, a decent audio system and plush upholstery. And you can add leather trim, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control and Ford's feature-rich multimedia system with mobile connectivity.

Fortunately the EcoSport also makes a convincing case on the road. While not built for outright speed, it boasts a well-sorted ride and weighty steering, which should instill confidence on the move.

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Much work has been done by Ford's engineers to tailor the EcoSport to the demands of European roads and its drivers. The bottom line is that this mini SUV drives much like any current small Ford, which is a considerable achievement and should be enough to give its rivals something to think about.

It's fair to say that, in 1.0-litre EcoBoost trim the car is best suited to relaxed urban motoring. Brisk performance is achievable but push hard and you'll soon be jealous of the extra torque and smoothness of the diesel engine. The EcoBoost petrol car might be quicker in a straight line but the diesel's welcome extra slug of torque might be a deal-breaker for some.

The five-speed manual gearshift is slick in both cars, while the added flexibility of the diesel allows you to stretch the EcoSport's legs on long journeys. Motorway cruising is a doddle plus you'll need fewer downchanges when attacking hills.

Other cars might have stolen a march in this market sector but Ford's EcoSport can stand tall, confident that it has the requisite talents to meet many of its rivals head on. It might not have been first to market but it's yet another first-rate motor from Ford.

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