Looks – 6/10
The Ecosport is a completely new shape, and there aren’t actually many nods to the Fiesta platform which lies underneath. And I rather like the way it looks at the front. There’s a rather large, bold grille as is becoming the norm on Ford models, but I do think there is a bit too much chrome on the Titanium one; it reminds me of Bullion from the James Bond movie. The wheels on the Titanium are a nice 16-inch design, and the side stance certainly is tall. I also like the grey plastic trim running around the lower edge of the car, as it gives that rugged, tough appearance, but then I must mention the rear end. I don’t like the spare when being stuck on the back, under a plastic cover. Thankfully Ford have already removed this as a standard feature, and it looks much better for it.
Inside it’s very much the same as the Fiesta, with the dials, dashboard, controls, stereo and gearknob coming directly from it. And that’s no bad thing, because it all looks rather nice. I’m not so keen on the colour of the plastics though. There’s a lot of grey, and some more of the silver (like the steering wheel) would be much nicer on the stereo control surround to break up the dark, gloomy feel a bit. And if I’m honest, the seats are a bit on the plain side too. The dials are nice, and the leather steering wheel too. And because this is a Titanium model, you get the climate control system, which looks rather swish.
As I mentioned earlier I opted for an Ecoboost engine, because I’m a big fan of them. This one was one of the more powerful ones too, offering up 125PS and 170Nm of torque. This still goes through a 5-speed gearbox, which to me is just wrong. I don’t think there’s any car on sale today which wouldn’t benefit from having a 6-speed box. Considering some cars are getting on for 7,8 and even 9 speeds- yes Land Rover I’m looking at you- 5 just doesn’t seem enough. And on the motorway you always find yourself wanting 6th. Performance figures aren’t overly inspiring really; 0-62mph in 12.7 seconds and a top speed of 112mph. But to drive the Ecosport does feel more pokey than those figures suggest. I still love the Ecoboost engines, as you certainly wouldn’t think you were driving a 1.0-litre car at all.
In general the Ecosport handles rather well. On the motorway it’s comfortable and in the most part it corners well, despite it being rather tall. The steering feels responsive and direct, although the seats don’t offer much in the way of lateral support. Which is probably a good thing because if you get a bit giddy with the Ecosport through the twisty stuff it does lean and become rather unpleasant. Put simply this shape of car is not meant to go fast round corners. There’s a lot of tyre on the car as well, which contributes to the lean when you push harder.
Economy – 8/10
Ordinarily the Ecoboost engines are rather efficient. Take this 1.0-litre, 125PS Ecoboost. Fit it to a Fiesta and you get 99g/km, free road tax, thank you very much. But not in the Ecosport. Oh no. In this car CO2 emissions are 125g/km, which is considerably higher, and put the car in VED band D. Although road tax will be free in the first year, it is then £110 in subsequent years, and that seems a bit steep. The combined fuel consumption isn’t bad though- 53.3mpg- and will aim to save you a bit back at the pumps. Ultimately the larger, less aerodynamic body not only spoils the looks, but also makes you pay more to the government each year.
Practicality – 6/10
And despite the Ecosport looking larger, the cabin doesn’t really feel any bigger than a Fiesta. There’s more height available, but at 5ft 7in this is of little use to me. And the boot was a massive let down for me, for two reasons. Firstly, it isn’t big enough for the size of car. It offers height, but very little in the way of depth. The worst part is the side-hinged opening though. This is a rather large boot, and so to open it means you need quite a bit of space. I’m not entirely sure of the logic here, but it just doesn’t seem right. A split-opening tailgate would make more sense, especially once you’ve done away with that spare wheel.
Fun – 6/10
There was enough to keep me entertained in the Ecosport. It had the optional Ford SYNC system, which at £250 is worth every penny if you ask me. This features Bluetooth connectivity for both hands-free telephone and music streaming. It also has rather comprehensive voice commands which make like easier on the road. But there was no ‘spark’ that made me fall for the car, like I have done with every Fiesta. And given that our new Fiesta ST was sat on the driveway, gleaming, I was hardly going to grab the keys for this one and head out for a drive. The Ecosport just feels lacking in driver appeal, and just doesn’t feel well thought out at all, which is frustrating.
So that’s the Ford Ecosport then. It’s a good car as a whole, but there are a few niggles. For those looking for a bit more height without getting a stupidly big car, the Ecosport is a good choice. And the best trick it has comes in the form of price. You see even the Titanium spec car I tested, with metallic paint (£495), SYNC (£250) and rear parking sensors (£210) came in at a very reasonable £16,500. I think that does represent good value, and seeing as though some of my concerns have already been addressed (I’m thinking about the spare wheel!) it does seem like a car to consider instead of just opting for a Nissan Juke. So why not pop into your local Ford dealer or visit the website for more information. The Ford Ecosport; the tall car that somehow falls a little short.
Total Score – 33/50