2014 FORD ECOSPORT REVIEW
What’s Hot: Fantastic 1.0 litre Ecoboost engine, spacious cabin, appealing price.
What’s Not: No auto for Ecoboost, 1.5 lacks lustre, no sat-nav.
X-FACTOR: A fun drive and easy on the wallet, lots of appeal here for buyers needing versatility in a small package.
Vehicle Style: Small SUV
Price: $22,790 to $27,790
82kW/140Nm 1.5 petrol 4cyl / 5sp manual or 6sp auto
92kW/170Nm 1.0 turbo petrol 3cyl / 5sp manual
Fuel Economy claimed: 5.7 l/100km (1.0L), 6.5 l/100km (1.5L)
The budget end of the SUV spectrum is heating up, that's no secret.
And if you’re a believer of statistics and trends, it could become a big deal for Ford.
While overall SUV sales have grown eight percent this year, the Small SUV category has swelled by 22 percent year-to-date. Sales of 2WD SUVs have also accelerated.
That puts the tiny EcoSport in a good position. Available purely as a front-drive soft-roader with a starting price of $20,790, the EcoSport is now the most affordable SUV on the market.
Not only is it well-priced and positioned in a high-growth segment, but the EcoSport also happens to be a rather good drive - particularly when you opt for the award-winning 1.0 litre Ecoboost engine.
Quality of the Indian-built interior certainly isn’t segment-leading, with plenty of rough edges to a lot of the EcoSport’s interior trim.
Hard plastics are everywhere you look, but remember that this is an inexpensive car, and that’s bound to bring compromises in cabin quality.
It’s a practical interior though. The front seats are mounted high to give a good view of the road ahead, and the back seats are spacious enough for two adults to sit in comfort (though legroom isn’t fantastic).
Because the spare wheel is mounted on the outside of the rear door, cargo space is exceptional for a small SUV.
There’s 346 litres of space with the rear seats in place, and they both fold and tumble forward to release up to 705 litres of luggage room. The door aperture is over one metre wide too, to facilitate loading large objects.
Downsides? Well, there’s no sat-nav option, the Sync infotainment system has a clunky interface and the rear door is hinged on the passenger side - the wrong side for a right-hand-drive market.
EcoSport key interior features:
- Power windows front and rear
- Manual airconditioning on Ambiente and Trend, auto climate control on Titanium
- Steering column adjustable for reach/rake
- Tumble-forward rear seats
- Sync smartphone integration as standard
- 60/40 split-fold rear seats
- Storage tray beneath passenger seat.
ON THE ROAD
Two petrol engines power the range, a 1.5 litre naturally-aspirated four, and Ford’s award-winning 1.0 litre Ecoboost three-cylinder.
The base model Ambiente is only available with the 1.5, but in our opinion it’s worth springing the extra for the Trend or Titanium to get the Ecoboost three-pot.
With 92kW and 170Nm, the Ecoboost betters the outputs of the 1.5 litre, which come in at a more modest 82kW and 140Nm.
Being turbocharged also makes the Ecoboost more tractable down low. While the 1.5 needs 4400rpm on the clock to pump out its 140Nm torque figure, the little Ecoboost only needs 1400rpm.
It’s a delight to drive, although the unavailability of an automatic for the Ecoboost means uptake will probably be low.
If you must have an auto, the 1.5’s six-speed Powershift twin-clutch is your only choice.
On-road handling is good. The electrically-assisted steering is direct and weights up nicely the further off-centre you steer, though tame roads on the launch route meant we couldn’t explore the EcoSport’s abilities.
Brake feel is excellent too, thanks to a responsive pedal with very little dead travel.
EcoSport key specifications:
- 1.0 litre Ecoboost three-cylinder, 92kW/170Nm. 5sp manual
- 1.5 litre petrol inline four, 82kW/140Nm. 5sp manual or 6sp auto
- Suspension: Independent McPherson strut front, Torsion beam axle rear
- Electric power-assisted rack and pinion steering, 10.6m turning circle
- Fuel consumption listed: 5.7 l/100km (1.0 litre), 6.5 l/100km (1.5 litre)
- ANCAP rating: Not yet tested.
FIRST DRIVE VERDICT | OVERALL
The Ford EcoSport has the right balance of power, space and price to do well in the swelling small SUV segment, and that Ecoboost three-cylinder is a sweet little engine.
Sharp styling and good on-road manners help its cause, but the omission of a factory-fitted touchscreen sat-nav is a handicap when arch-rival Holden offers just such a thing in every variant of the Trax - albeit one that uses your phone.
Still, with an entry price of $20,790 for the base model and $22,290 for the Trend Ecoboost (the best deal of them all in our opinion), the EcoSport is by far the most wallet-friendly option in this space - and one we thoroughly recommend.
PRICING (excludes on-road costs)
- 2014 Ambiente - 1.5 manual - $20,790
- 2014 Ambiente - 1.5 auto - $22,790
- 2014 Trend - 1.0 manual - $22,290
- 2014 Trend - 1.5 auto - $24,290
- 2014 Titanium - 1.0 manual - $25,790
- 2014 Titanium - 1.5 auto - $27,790