Ford Ecosport review

Category: Small SUV

Small SUV’s chunky looks are easy to fall for, but it’s a disappointing car to drive and is stingy with space

Ford Ecosport front right driving
  • Ford Ecosport front right driving
  • Ford Ecosport rear cornering
  • Ford Ecosport interior dashboard
  • Ford Ecosport interior back seats
  • Ford Ecosport interior infotainment
  • Ford Ecosport front cornering
  • Ford Ecosport right driving
  • Ford Ecosport front right static
  • Ford Ecosport interior front seats
  • Ford Ecosport boot open
  • Ford Ecosport front right driving
  • Ford Ecosport rear cornering
  • Ford Ecosport interior dashboard
  • Ford Ecosport interior back seats
  • Ford Ecosport interior infotainment
  • Ford Ecosport front cornering
  • Ford Ecosport right driving
  • Ford Ecosport front right static
  • Ford Ecosport interior front seats
  • Ford Ecosport boot open
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Introduction

What Car? says...

Much like the ocean washes away the imperfections on a pebble over time, a number of updates and revisions have been made to the Ford Ecosport over the years since it first arrived in the UK around a decade age, the aim being to keep it competitive in a burgeoning small SUV market.

The analogy of smoothing rough edges is apt here. Early incarnations of Ford’s smallest SUV had far too many shortcomings – a low-rent interior, limited infotainment technology and a cumbersome side-hinged tailgate – to be recommended in the same breath as rivals that include the Nissan Juke and the Renault Captur

At a glance, it gets the fundamentals right. Its chunky looks give off all the right SUV vibes, and you can see that it’ll lift you nice and high off the ground. What’s more, the Ford Ecosport is based on the Ford Fiesta and that’s a pretty solid foundation to build upon. Its choice of two turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol engines, with 123bhp and 138bhp, compares well with the equivalents offered by the Hyundai Kona and the Kia Stonic

But, under pressure from fine-handling rivals as the Suzuki Vitara and the Seat Arona the latest version needs to be a pleasure to drive and the previous model fell short of the usual high Ford standards. The Ecosport certainly can’t afford to be embarrassed by its bigger brother, the Ford Puma – our small SUV of the year for 2021 – especially when that model isn’t hugely more expensive.  

In this review, we'll look at if the latest Ford Ecosport has come on far enough to be worth considering in a field of extremely talented rivals. We'll rate it for performance and handling, boot space and practicality, reliability, running costs and more.

If the contender with the Blue Oval badge does take your fancy, don’t forget that we can help you find a great deal with the hassle of haggling if you search our free New Car Deals pages. They list lots of the best new small SUV deals.

Overview

The Ecosport’s chunky looks and commanding driving position are easy to fall for, but it’s a disappointing car to drive and is stingy with space inside. With no diesel or four-wheel drive option, there are few reasons to choose an Ecosport over more accomplished rivals.

  • Flexible 1.0-litre engine
  • Smart interior
  • Well equipped
  • Poor ride
  • Limited rear space
  • Impractical boot
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Target Price from £23,475
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Of the two engines offered, both of which are turbocharged 1.0-litre petrols, we’d suggest you look to the Ford Ecosport's 124bhp Ecoboost 125. It's free-revving, flexible and provides good performance. And, while there is a 138bhp Ecoboost 140 version of the same engine, it's only available with the range-topping ST-Line trim so is too expensive to recommend.

All Ecosport models have a six-speed manual gearbox as standard – something that you’ll find yourself operating regularly, due to its relatively short gearing. An automatic is no longer offered, unlike many of its fellow small SUV competitors. 

Ford Ecosport image
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Sadly, the Ecosport’s handling doesn’t inspire much confidence. Its steering is far too vague, leaving you sawing at the wheel on anything but poker-straight motorways, and there’s considerable body lean in corners.

The biggest problem, though, is the way the Ecosport rides. It rarely settles down and tends to jostle occupants around in town – and things don't improve much with speed. Things are especially bumpy in ST-Line models, which have stiffer suspension.

Refinement is acceptable in a class where there are no really quiet contenders. The Ecosport’s engines are noisier than they are in the Ford Fiesta but are especially wheezy when getting up to speed. There’s vibration through the pedals, and the door mirrors whip up quite a bit of wind noise, plus the clutch pedal is very heavy, with quite a short travel before it engages, and may catch you by surprise to begin with. Still, at least the gearshift is solid and slots into gear positively.

Ford Ecosport rear cornering

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

The latest Ecosport is far smarter inside than previous versions, and has the edge on the Seat Arona, thanks to soft-touch materials being used on the top of the dashboard and a cushioned section on the door armrest. However, below-par build quality is revealed by plenty of creaks when you grab onto the door handle, and newer rivals such as the Skoda Kamiq have a far classier feel.

One area where the Ecosport does beat the Kamiq, and indeed much of the small SUV class, is by offering a commanding driving position. You sit completely upright like you might in an SUV twice its size, with a good view of the road straight ahead, although the A-pillars are relatively thick. The rearmost pillars are also quite chunky, but large door mirrors and a standard rear-view camera help with visibility when backing up.

It’s a shame that the front seats are quite narrow and have manual adjustment regardless of which trim you pick. Manual lumbar support adjustment is available throughout the range, though. The pedals have quite a long travel, which means shorter drivers might have to sit closer to the steering wheel, but the wheel itself can now be adjusted for both height and reach, unlike previous versions of the Ecosport.  

The dashboard is based on the latest Fiesta’s, and most of the major controls are easy to use on the move. A 8.0in touchscreen is standard, controlling DAB radio, USB connection plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring. It’s design is outdated, though; the Arona's on-screen graphics are sharper and laid out much neater.

Ford Ecosport interior dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

There’s enough leg and head room up front for most drivers to feel comfortable, but the Ecosport is narrow, so you may feel that elbow room is a little restricted.

Rear leg room is disappointing, though. There’s plenty of foot space under the front seats and a recess for your knees, but any driver close to six feet tall will eliminate any real space left in the back. It’s equally narrow back there, too, so squeezing three across the rear bench will only be an option for short journeys. It’s also a shame that there’s none of the sliding-seat versatility that you get in the Renault Captur.

More likely to irritate is the fairly small boot, which is accessed via a heavy and impractical side-opening door. It means you can’t get to the boot when you back into a tight car park space or when parked close to a wall or garage. It’s also a pain to get into if you’re parallel-parked on the side of a busy road.

The rear seats can fold in a 60:40 configuration, and you can do this from the boot using a lever. They don’t fold flat, though, and leave a step in the floor. Overall, boot space lags behind that offered by the Captur and the Seat Arona.

Ford Ecosport interior back seats

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Pricing for the Ford Ecosport has crept up over the years and it’s no longer a value-led choice; in fact it now competes with the VW T-Cross and the VW T-Roc. In fact, the Ecosport can be more pricey on PCP finance than one of our favourite small SUVS – the slightly larger Ford Puma.

With no diesel engines offered, the most economical Ecosport is the 124bhp 1.0 petrol, which is capable of decent fuel economy and strikes a good balance between price and performance.

Entry-level Titanium gives you 17in wheels, built-in sat-nav, rear parking sensors along with a rear-view camera, partial leather seats, keyless start, climate and cruise control, as well as heated windscreen, and automatic headlights and wipers. Next up is the Active model that has the exterior appearance of a tough SUV, but with four-wheel drive having been dropped from the Ecosport line-up, is no more capable than cheaper versions. Meanwhile, the range-topping ST-Line gets sports suspension and various sports-inspired styling upgrades. 

A three-year, 60,000-mile warranty is standard. This falls short of the five-year, 100,000-mile package included with the Renault Captur and the class-leading seven-year, 100,000-mile cover on the Kia Stonic. Ford as a brand didn’t do particularly well in the 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey – it finished 27th out of 32 manufacturers.

The updated Ecosport hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP; the previous version received four stars when it was tested back in 2013, but it won’t live up to that score in today’s more stringent testing. It has at least been updated to include automatic emergency braking (AEB), and you can add something called the Driver Assistance Pack which includes blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and high-beam assistance.

Thatcham Security Research also rated the Ecosport four stars for its ability to prevent being broken into, but the full five stars for preventing being stolen altogether.

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Ford Ecosport interior infotainment
At a glance
New car deals
Target Price from £23,475
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Used car deals
From £3,450
RRP price range £23,475 - £25,325
Number of trims (see all)3
Number of engines (see all)2
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol
MPG range across all versions 45.6 - 45.6
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £1,482 / £1,600
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £2,963 / £3,200
Available colours