Whilst the crossover niche is no longer quite so, well, niche, that is nothing other than a testament to car manufacturers picking up on current trends and giving people what they want. These “soft roaders” can be found everywhere you look, but there now may be a new segment that could prove just as popular, if not more. Compact-crossovers are based upon small hatchbacks and offer everything that there larger SUV siblings do but in an even smaller package. This Ford EcoSport Titanium 1.0 EcoBoost we have been testing must take on already established competition like the Nissan Juke.
For those who don’t know, Ford now operate on a program called “One Ford.” In a nutshell, Ford now build one car for the three continents as opposed to three individual models to the tastes of that region. The Fiesta was a huge success when it was sent over to America a few years ago, but can this Brazilian designed, Indian built EcoSport cut the Mustard over in Europe?
This cars looks have divided opinion amongst friends. Some have written it off as not being different enough whilst others quite like the understated but smart appearance. Personally, in this very attractive “Kinetic Blue” paint with the new Ford chromed family grill, I rather like it. It is a strong shape and those unique LED lights look great in the dark. In a front three-quarter view I would even say it has an authoritative stance, however, the externally mounted spare tyre on the back ages the rear end dramatically. On a modern car it just looks out of place, but that aside, it is a neat little design.
The interior would be familiar to anyone who has driven a Ford of recent years as the console dons the usual mobile phone inspired arrangement and the instruments highlighted in a blue tone. This Ford EcoSport, just like many Fords, has a driving position that is spot-on and from the drivers seat offers good visibility all around. The rear bench is spacious with bags of head and leg room up for grabs, something which was a slight criticism of the Fiesta on which this car is based. Its cabin looks good but it doesn’t tick all of the boxes. The quality of some of the scratchy plastics that make up the interior are not what we have come to expect from Ford. Hollow and cheap sounding materials downgrade the whole experience and gives the car quite a budget feel, which is a great shame as ergonomically it is has promise. Whilst the passenger space might be ergonomically sound, the boot is not. Whilst the loading area isn’t particularly big, its biggest flaw resulted in me being absolutely baffled as to why this design wasn’t changed at an early stage in this cars development. The boot swings open like a door revealing a large opening, great for placing a wide object inside. What isn’t so great is that you need a large amount of space behind the car to open this door. In Europe where many of our car parking spaces are parallel, there is no way that the car behind will leave you over a metre of space. The end result is you not being able to access the boot.
Our test Ford EcoSport Titanium 1.0 EcoBoost, as the name suggests, is powered by Ford’s award winning 1.0 litre turbocharged three-cylinder EcoBoost petrol engine. Here it produces 123BHP and drives the front wheels via a 5 speed manual gearbox. This engine deserves all of the attention it gets as it is a fantastic piece of engineering. For such a small capacity unit it punches well above its weight and if nobody told you what was beneath the bonnet it could easily pass as a 1.6 litre. In the EcoSport it performs well being flexible in the city, thanks to 170Nm of torque, but also also capable of doing battle on the motorway. Yet, when compared with other models with this engine option, its three cylinder thrum is much more noticeable in the cabin. The Ford EcoSport is well suited to the city as its relatively narrow dimensions makes picking your way through traffic and squeezing through small gaps easy. Gear changes from the 5 speed box are smooth and compliments the light steering. We achieved 42MPG over a combination of environments whilst road testing. The ever sort-after high driving position that has made this segment so popular also gives occupants a great view of the road ahead. On more dynamic roads there is a bit of body roll, something to be expected in a tall car, but the EcoSport also produces more understeer than we would have hoped. This is particularly disappointing as all modern Ford’s, even ones such as the Tourneo, are enjoyable when driven with a bit of vigour. The EcoSport is lacklustre in this respect.
The Ford EcoSport Titanium 1.0 EcoBoost is not a terrible car, but is a victim of the blue oval’s own success. Ford has set such high standards for its cars over the past decade that we expect the complete package every time. In isolation the EcoSport has its merits, but when compared with the rest of the range its shortcomings are clear to see. Many will be sold on its looks alone as this is very much a “lifestyle” car. Our test car in a high specification with some optional extras came to £16,500 which is in the same region as its competitors.