IT’S not easy to combine some of the more desirable elements of a big car with the footprint of a supermini but the Ford EcoSport shows just how it can be done.
Some of the appeal of larger SUV and MPV models comes not from their huge interior space but more from the increased ride height and the better view out this brings. Everyone who has ever driven any normal car in heavy traffic has encountered moments where a raised seat would give a better, grandstand view of what is going on and that’s exactly what comes as a valuable bonus with the EcoSport.
It has other advantages, too, not least among them ease of access for possessors of creaking knees and hips or families slotting children into safety seats and fed up of bending over to do it. Hip height access is perfect for many people and saves climbing down into a car.
One of the concerns from potential buyers might be the seeming impotency of a chunky car like the EcoSport when it’s fitted with a three cylinder, 1.0 petrol engine. Such circumstances have never been the reality but with up to 139bhp now available from this international award-winning 1.0 engine there’s absolutely no reason to feel concern about its ability to match the pace of other traffic.
That engine can be part of the package that comes as the EcoSport Titanium S, a model with some very sharp-looking black alloy wheels shod with low profile tyres. But you don’t have to go all that way to enjoy the best benefits of the EcoSport because the ride height and easy access come as standard with every model.
EcoSport brings another advantage for those who hate stretching up to close a tailgate because the rear panel is side hinged. Even with the car facing down a steep slope the door is easy to swing open, assisted by gas struts that then keep it in place. If you want to specify a spare wheel on the Zetec or Titanium models, it comes in a stylish carrier that attaches to the rear door to give that rough, tough SUV look.
Inside that rear door is a very useful load area offering 300 litres of capacity with the seats in place or 1,238 litres when the seats are folded, quite a bit more than the Nissan Juke when ultimate load space is required.
With EU6 compliant engines whether you want diesel or petrol, the EcoSport holds no fears over lack of access to low emission zones for the foreseeable future. So while it’s a great runabout in the countryside it will tackle inner city motoring wherever you want to take it under current rules and those coming into effect in the near future.
The car is no slouch in the cut and thrust of heavy traffic either. That 139bhp engine powers the car to a 115mph top speed (only if it’s legal of course!) accompanied by an 11.8 seconds 0-62mph time – pretty good figures when you consider the substantial frontal area shared by all cars that have an SUV purpose.
It enjoys being pushed quite hard but at the same time will easily give 41mpg as an average in general use, a figure that pushes towards 50mpg on longer journeys.
While it looks tough and ready to take on the world outside, the interior of the EcoSport naturally reflects stylish, modern Ford thinking. There’s clear instrumentation in twin chrome-rimmed dials set just ahead of the steering wheel while dominating the top centre of the fascia is the music system – radio and cd player set below a screen to deliver essential information.
Heating controls take centre stage ahead of the gearshift, where they are clear and easy to access.
There are also audio controls on the steering wheel for every EcoSport while the Titanium and Titanium S gain cruise control that’s both simple and effective on the opposing wheel spoke. There’s hardly a better way to encourage long journey economy when traffic conditions allow while the gear shift indicator on manual models also helps educate drivers on good practice.
The EcoSport is undoubtedly a grand entry into the expanded Ford SUV range, which has the New Kuga at its heart and is topped out by the Edge, imported from North America. Remember that when it comes to making SUVs Ford is up there with the big boys, although with the EcoSport it shows that it does small-scale SUVs with real ability too.
Maurice and Annette Hardy
Car: Ford EcoSport Titanium S 140PS
Does it fit your ego…
0-62mph: 11.8 secs
Top speed: 115mph
Bhp: 140 @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 154lb ft @ 1,400rpm
…and your wallet…
CO2 emissions: 125 g/km
Best bits: big car attributes in a small package