Ford EcoSport Review

Find out more about the Ford Ecosport in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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2
Out of 5

Pros

  • Inexpensive to buy and run
  • Good equipment levels
  • Fairly spacious

Cons

  • Poor build quality
  • Mediocre engines
  • Uninspiring drive
  • MPG

    45 - 67

  • CO2

    110 - 140 g/km

Model review

Originally produced for emerging markets like India and Brazil, the EcoSport is a small crossover SUV introduced to the UK and Europe in 2014.

The slightly ungainly looks – including an external spare wheel and a side-opening boot (which opened the wrong way for RHD markets) – didn't do it any favours, and it didn't prove to be refined enough to make much of a sales impact. Ford updated the car very shortly after launch in 2015, to address these shortcomings.

The latest version looks far more conventional (although that external spare is still an option) and helps lend a sense of cohesion to the Ford SUV range, as it now resembles a pint-sized version of the Kuga and Edge crossovers. As a B-segment crossover, the EcoSport competes with vehicles like the Nissan Juke, Mazda CX-3, Vauxhall Mokka X. The car is based on the Fiesta, so shares many technologies including engines, gearboxes and vehicle interface.

Despite the looks, there's no four-wheel drive option on any version of the EcoSport. A new version of the car may be on its way when the Fiesta itself is replaced in 2017.

Latest model

It's unusual for a car to be updated so soon into its life, but the latest version of the EcoSport has had serious work done to the ride, handling, comfort and technology, making it a far cry from the short-lived, Brazilian-market original and much more like a European car.

The Fiesta-based EcoSport is only just over 4 metres long and shares both the award-winning 1.0T Ecoboost and 1.5-litre TDCI diesel with its more popular sibling, along with a 1.5-litre petrol. If you want an automatic EcoSport, you'll have to specify this latter unit.

Trim levels include the familiar Zetec and Titanium grades, with a Titanium S model sitting at the top of the range.

Value for money

The EcoSport is far from an expensive vehicle, starting off at just £14,445. This buys you the entry-level Zetec model, with manual air conditioning, Ford SYNC radio with AppLink, power front and rear windows, multifunction steering wheel, electric door mirrors and a cooled glove box. Unusually, the car also comes with a pretty vibrant base colour, dubbed 'Bright Yellow'.

The Titanium grade, at £2,300 extra, adds partial leather seats, keyless entry and start, cruise control, automatic headlights and wipers, and automatic climate control, which should all combine to make the Titanium the most popular version. Another £500 more for the Titanium S adds 17-inch black alloy wheels, privacy glass, Sony DAB radio and sports suspension, while there's also an upgrade to the EcoBoost engine – from 123hp to 138hp – for another £300, exclusive to the Titanium S.

Neither parking sensors nor a camera are available as standard on any specification. Rear parking sensors only are a £210 option, and a rear camera is available for £250, but the latter isn't compatible with the boot-mounted spare wheel. Navigation isn't standard either, coming in as a £550 extra (£400 on the Titanium S).

Depending on your engine choice you'll also need to pay between £160 and £200 for your first year VED payment.

Looks and image

The EcoSport did not get off to the best start in life in the UK, with a relatively poor transition that belied its South American origins and emerging market intent. It garnered poor reviews on just about every front and though it has improved since then, it's still fighting off some of that negative early publicity. The cheapish cabin doesn't do much to help either.

Nevertheless, Ford does have an excellent reputation for small cars and the EcoSport is, in essence, a Fiesta-based crossover and that does carry with it a relatively positive image.

Space and practicality

There isn't a huge amount of room in the cabin of the EcoSport – it is, after all, merely a supermini – but the high roofline means that headroom is actually pretty good. There's a decent amount of rear legroom too and it's likely that passengers will have a less cramped time in the Ford than in most of its direct rivals.

Boot space is also good, with 333 litres comfortably outclassing the Fiesta and even trading blows with Ford's bigger Focus. However, it can be difficult to access in tight spaces as the boot opens sideways rather than upwards and, belying its origins somewhat, it opens towards the kerb. Folded down, the load space extends to an impressive 1,238 litres, but there is a step left by the rear seat backs.

It holds a four star safety rating from EuroNCAP, with a very impressive 93% score for Adult Occupant protection, following its 2013 test.

Engines

There are four engine options for the EcoSport, with three petrol and one diesel available.

There's an older 1.5-litre petrol with 110hp serving as the entry level engine. With 149g/km CO2 rating, this has the highest emissions and poorest fuel economy (44.8mpg) of any EcoSport model, but it's also the only one that can be specified with an automatic gearbox.

This doesn't harm the fuel economy, but does blunt the performance, with the 60mph sprint increasing from 13.1s to 13.9s. The auto also only has a towing rating of 400kg, compared to 750kg in the manual.

The three-cylinder EcoBoost is available with two power outputs, with the 123hp version across most of the range and a 138hp unit available in the Titanium S car. Both versions of this engine rate at 125g/km and 53.3mpg, while the 0-60mph time is 12.7s for the lower power car and 11.8s for the higher output one.

The most economical engine is the 1.5 TDCi diesel, with a 64.2mpg combined rating and 115g/km. However, with just 93hp, it's not quick and accomplishes a 60mph time of 13.8s.

Running costs

Although the EcoSport weighs a little more than the Fiesta it's based on – in fact nearer to the Focus – it's a relatively inexpensive car to run, with low insurance, tax and decent fuel economy thanks to the sensible, if uninspiring, engines it uses.

Be aware that, although it's the cheapest to buy, the 1.5-litre petrol is a relatively old unit that traces its origins back to the Sigma engine of the 1990s, so its day-to-day running costs are higher than the diesel and EcoBoost options.

It rates at 44.8mpg combined, which is well behind the other engines, and the 149g/km CO2 rating puts it into the £200 first-year tax bracket, compared to £160 for the others.

All models are between insurance group 9 and 11, so won't be troublesome to insure, even for younger drivers, and the significant parts-sharing with the Fiesta will means that servicing and repair costs will be amongst the cheapest for just about any vehicle on sale.

Things to look out for

No major problems have manifested in the four years the EcoSport has been on sale, and the car hasn't been subject to any widespread recalls in the UK or Europe. Some early cars were recalled due to fuel line faults that may cause leaks, while around a thousand cars were also recalled with issues surrounding the rear trailing arm suspension bolts.

Otherwise, be on the lookout for the type of electrical faults with infotainment and environmental controls that can sometimes dog the cheaper Fords, and be aware that it's not the most robustly built interior so you may find a fair amount of loose trim.

Rivals

Generally, the B-segment is a tough place to be, with almost every manufacturer offering a supermini, but B-segment crossovers are a bit more unusual. Probably the sector-defining vehicle in the class is the Nissan Juke, and that has the sort of overwhelming momentum of popularity that makes it the default choice.

Other rivals for the EcoSport include the Mazda CX-3, Vauxhall's Mokka X, the Fiat 500X, the Toyota C-HR, Honda's HR-V and the Renault Captur, many of which offer a four-wheel drive option that isn't available on the Ford. Value-conscious buyers may also look at something like the Ssangyong Tivoli.

Depreciation warning

Despite Ford being the UK's best-selling manufacturer, traditionally its vehicles do not retain value well, and the EcoSport does not buck this trend. It's never been a hugely popular vehicle, so despite there being limited secondhand choice, there's not a lot of demand and residuals suffer as a result. If you pick your new EcoSport wisely, with a mid-range trim and avoiding the 1.5 petrol, you could see around a 45% return after three years.

Which Ecosport to Pick

Cheapest to Buy When New

1.0 EcoBoost Zetec 5dr

Most MPG

1.5 EcoBlue Zetec 5dr

Fastest Model (0-60)

1.0 EcoBoost 140 ST-Line 5dr

Trims Explained

There are just three trim levels on the EcoSport, using the familiar Ford trim structure of Zetec, Titanium and Titanium S

Zetec

The Zetec model is reasonably well-equipped for a relatively inexpensive car. It has Ford SYNC radio with AppLink, a multifunction steering wheel, electric door mirrors, electric windows and manual air conditioning, along with a cooled glove box.

Prices start from £14,445

Titanium

Titanium adds some useful toys and is likely to be the most popular version as a result. Keyless entry and start, cruise control, automatic headlights and wipers, partial leather seats and automatic climate control gives it just about everything you'd expect on a modern vehicle.

Prices start from £16,745

Titanium S

Top of the range Titanium S includes an upgrade to Sony DAB radio, sports suspension with a 10mm reduction in ride height, 17-inch black alloy wheels and privacy glass. However parking sensors, reverse camera and navigation all remain optional extras, even on this specification.

Prices start from £17,245

Summary

  1. Automatic only available on 1.5 petrol
  2. No four-wheel drive
  3. Awkward side-opening tailgate
  4. Navigation is only available as an extra
  5. Entry level petrol most expensive to tax and run
  6. 333 litre boot space
  7. Based on the popular Ford Fiesta
  8. High output engine only available on Titanium S grade
  9. Four star EuroNCAP rating

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