When is a Fiesta not a Fiesta? When it’s an EcoSport of course. A car which Ford hope will provide the go anywhere excitement and space of a SUV combined with the ease of use offered by a City Car on the crowded roads of this green and pleasant land of ours.
It’s certainly distinctive enough to provide something different in the compact SUV marketplace, especially when you have the ST-Line Edition sitting on the driveway. Ford have achieved the seemingly impossible here by creating a car very different from the Fiesta upon which it is based and ending up with something that is so much more than a City Car with a raised ride height.
Perhaps the most distinctive area of the EcoSport ST-Line is that dominant, all black front grille reminiscent of it’s larger Kuga and Edge siblings. The grille sets up the EcoSport beautifully, especially when combined with the Black headlight bezels, HID xenon headlights, cool daytime LEDs and front fogs. The high waistline and rear privacy glass finish off the look and further move the EcoSport from it’s more humble origins.
The EcoSport on test has a personality all of its own with, what Ford say, is a sports inspired style. Unique ST-Line bumpers and side skirts, optional 18″ 5-spoke Black machined alloy wheels, ST-Line exterior branding plus contrasting roof, rear spoiler and door mirrors create a fantastic first impression and give you that all important reason to take a long look back over the shoulder once disembarked from the car.
Settle into the ST-Line and the sporting theme continues with unmissable Front door threshold plates with the ST-Line logo (I like these) Sports pedals with stainless steel inserts, Leather-trimmed steering wheel with red stitching, Leather-trimmed handbrake handle and gearshift gaiter with red stitching and Front and rear floor mats with red stitching. This is a cool place to spend your time.
Dominating the dashboard is the 8″ touchscreen giving you to access to Ford SYNC 3, a system which allows for seamless integration with your smartphone, letting you control everything from phone calls and text messaging to music and satellite navigation through simple voice commands. And that’s not all as you can also hear your text messages read aloud for you whilst the colour touchscreen supports multi-touch ‘swipe’ and ‘pinch-to-zoom’ gestures, and lets you arrange application icons and background displays just as you would on your tablet or smartphone. Clever stuff indeed.
Now in the old days all of the above would be quite enough thank you very much but this is 2019, an age where we now expect our chosen transportation to go above and beyond what should rightfully be included. In this respect, the Ford EcoSport continues to impress with Electronic Automatic Temperature Control (EATC), Blind Spot Information System, automatic headlights, automatic windscreen wipers, Cruise control with Adjustable Speed Limiter, Rear View Camera with rear parking distance sensors and one of my own favourites, the Keyless start with Ford Power Starter Button. In the EcoSport you really do want for nothing.
Out on the road and it’s time to give this new Ford SUV a proper run out. Setting out from Bradford, West Yorkshire and you’re straight into traffic, traffic and more traffic, disappointing usually but an excellent opportunity to check out the comfort levels afforded both driver and passengers when tedium is the order of the day. The usual range of adjustability in both seating and steering wheel combined with heat and leather mean that comfort is the order of the day. Why can’t every car have a heated steering wheel though, they’re lovely?
It never ceases to amaze how Ford can get so much power and flexibility from their 1.0L three cylinder, turbocharged engines, engines that include direct injection and variable valve timing boost to achieve impressive levels of economy. A combined figure of 44.1mpg being achievable on a decent run from the engine in this ST-Line Edition. The EcoSport sports (ahem) Ford’s 123bhp version of this power plant with up to 148ft/lb torque when enjoying overboost, the aforementioned traffic holds no awkward moments. Leave the engine in fourth or fifth and keep the revs above 1500 or so and the Ford will potter along for as long as you need it to. A light clutch and steering and compact City Car dimensions add up to a vehicle that is incredibly easy to manoeuvre in town and that’s not even including the benefit of a SUV driving position and associated improved site lines.
Once clear of Bradford’s City limits and heading out towards Harrogate and beyond, the views change from urban to rural with Yorkshire’s luxurious rolling countryside taking your breath away, seemingly at every twist and turn of the road ahead. If we gloss over the A658 through Huby, a road that the EcoSport dispatches with barely a whimper, you soon find yourself heading further north on the A1 and A19 and giving the Ford a chance to stretch it’s legs. Setting the cruise control to 70mph you’re then able to appreciate the build quality of the plastics, leather and switches around you and admire the stress free ride quality that the Sports Suspension setup of the ST-Line delivers whilst still giving hints of the fun to come once the twisting country roads past Thirsk hove into view.
According to Ford the EcoSport should be able to deliver the following: A weekend break. Your drive to work. The nimble shortcut. The scenic route… wherever you go, the Ford EcoSport delivers fun and confidence with every drive so with the humdrum A19 out of the way, it’s now time to see if Ford have got there sums correct.
Turning right onto the A170 Sutton Road is where this journey begins to take on a different flavour from that which has gone before as the opportunity to stir the slick 6-speed gearbox through it’s ratios and enjoy the turbocharged three-cylinder engine under the bonnet presents itself. There’s also an important break for tea and cake at Sutton Bank National Park Centre in just 6.4 miles to look forward to as well.
So the EcoSport is not a Sports Car, that much is clear from glancing at the spec sheet and a cursory walk around this SUV but that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy your time in the driving seat, after all, Ford do have a certain reputation when it comes to engineering handling and power into their everyday motors don’t they? For the changes of height and direction that Sutton Road is correctly famous for, the ST-Line offers up agility and power aplenty to tame this exciting ribbon of tarmac. Slowing down for the bends gives the decent brakes a chance to shine whilst shifting up nearer the top of the rev range and stirring the ‘box shows what a fantastic job Ford’s engineers have once again completed with the engine and drivetrain.
Steering that offers up decent feel for the front end of the car means that this SUV will go where you point it safely and without any surprises which is exactly what you want when in town or in the wilds of North Yorkshire and is more evidence that Ford have achieved their aims for this car.
Over the promised tea and cake at the top of Sutton Bank it’s time to decide where the Ford EcoSport ST-Line fits in this increasingly busy motoring world.
There’s room for five adults, a stylish exterior and technologically advanced interior. A superb yet economical engine, up to 356 litres of packing space when in five seat mode and loaded up to the parcel shelf and plenty of practical cubby holes and drink holders for driver and passengers, there can be no doubt that Ford have given us exactly what they set out to do. It’s fun when you want it to be and sensible when you don’t and with a starting price of £17,850 for the ZETEC that’s an excellent result.
And did I mention you also get Ford’s brilliant Quickclear heated windscreen?
Where will you go?