Of the engines available at the moment, we’d suggest you look to the 124bhp 1.0-litre turbo petrol (badged as the Ecoboost 125). It's free-revving, flexible and provides good performance. And while there is a 138bhp version of the same engine, it's exclusively sold with the range-topping ST-Line trim, so is too expensive to recommend.
A 99bhp diesel is available now, while a 124bhp diesel will join the range later this year. Both are worth considering if you do a lot of miles, due to their superior economy and good mid-range urgency. However, for most people, the petrols will make more sense.
All Ecosport models get a six-speed manual gearbox as standard – something that you’ll find yourself using regularly in the diesel due to its relatively short gearing. Unfortunately, the Ecoboost 125 is the only variant offered with the option of an automatic gearbox, but it's best avoided anyway, being decidedly sluggish by modern standards.
The Ecosport’s handling is average among its small SUV rivals. It steers with reasonable fluidity, delivering good steering weight, but it runs out of grip fairly quickly, so doesn't inspire much confidence.
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. This is even more of a problem in ST-Line specification due to stiffer suspension and larger 17in wheels (18in ones are available as an option). Four-wheel-drive models get a more sophisticated rear suspension and ride better, but still not well enough to be truly comfortable.
Refinement is acceptable in a class where there are no really quiet contenders. The Ecosport’s engines are noisier than they are in the Fiesta, but they’re not unpleasant. There is vibration through the pedals, however, and the door mirrors whip up quite a bit of wind noise. At least the precise pedals and gearshift make the Ecosport easy to drive smoothly.