Ford's improved EcoSport moves a little further upmarket in the small Crossover segment thanks to the addition of a more potent 140bhp EcoBoost petrol range-topping version. Jonathan Crouch drives it.
Ten Second Review
In its first few years on sale, there wasn't really a version of Ford's EcoSport Crossover that you could genuinely call desirable. Here though, is a variant with much more of the 'want one' factor, the 1.0 EcoBoost 140PS derivative. It comes with more power and more equipment but at a price that might see you preferring that larger Ford Kuga Crossover model on the other side of the showroom.
Little by little, Ford is honing its EcoSport small Crossover model into a pretty reasonable contender in its class. In 2015, tweaks to the suspension improved the ride plus this design got greater refinement, a smarter cabin and the option to do without the rear-mounted spare wheel. More recently, a pokier 140PS 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine has been added in at the top of the range and it's that variant we look at in more detail here. Like its other range stablemates, this model offers chunky looks that deliver up a bit of Amazonian attitude, even if in truth, this car is more CBeebies than SAS in its take on hostile streetlife. Let's check it out.
You don't go an awful lot faster in this 140PS EcoSport model than you would in its 125PS counterpart - but then that's not really the point of a car like this. Rest to 62mph in this range-topper takes 11.8s, which makes this variant about a second quicker than its stablemate. Top speed is 115mph, 3mph more than the 125PS derivative. Torque - pulling power - is rated at 180PS, 10PS more than the lesser variant. The on the road dynamics of this model have improved since the original launch thanks to suspension retuning with revised rear twist beam suspension and more carefully considered spring and damper rates for chassis optimisation, plus a 10mm reduction in ride height and optimised Electronic Stability Control and power steering systems. Crossovers of this kind need to drive as much like the superminis they're based on as possible. From here on, the signs are that this one will. As ever with an EcoSport, there's no 4x4 option, but you do get a great raised driving position and a comprehensive package of driver assistance technologies, including Electronic Stability Program and Hill Launch Assist.
Design and Build
If you know your EcoSport models, then you'll recognise this 'Titanium S' 140PS variant by its shiny black 17-inch alloys and the black contrast finish used on its roof and mirrors. The version we tried was one of those specified without a huge great spare wheel pinned to the back window - though that option's still available if you want it. We'd do without. It means that the car's attributes come over with a more contemporary air. As ever, the almost Aston Martin-style front grille looks good, the glasshouse is elegant, the headlights and wheelarch treatment is very deft and the stance of the car is better than it has any right to be. Inside, there's a smart instrument cluster with a chrome surround, while changes made to improve the EcoSport's cabin ambience in recent times include the addition of a light dimming function, along with chrome tips for the window switches and a handbrake lever that's now easier to get at. Small changes to be sure, but they give the cabin more of a quality feel. For vehicles without the spare wheel, the rear swing-gate has been revised to allow for easier partial opening where space is limited. That side-hinged tailgate still accesses a load space that Ford reckons is big enough to swallow a 560-litre washing machine - once the 60/40 split rear seats are folded, that is.
Market and Model
The 1.0-litre EcoBoost 140PS EcoSport model costs just over £17,500, comes only in top 'Titanium S' trim and costs around £800 more than you'd pay for a 125PS EcoSport model with mid-range 'Titanium' spec. That makes this flagship variant only around £2,500 less to buy than an entry-level version of Ford's larger Kuga Crossover model. Still, at least 'Titanium S' trim gets you plenty of kit. That means sports suspension, 17-inch polished black alloy wheels, a high-end Sony-branded DAB stereo system, a painted black contrast finish for the roof and the mirror housings and rear privacy glass. A Sony navigation system is optional. As standard, buyers get Ford's SYNC voice-activated in-car connectivity including SYNC Emergency Assistance. The SYNC package includes an AppLink set-up, which enables customers to voice-control smartphone apps from the driver's seat. Ford SYNC with Emergency Assistance directly connects the vehicle occupants to local emergency services operators after an accident, in the correct language for the region using information from the vehicle's on-board GPS unit and mobile network to pinpoint the accident location.
Cost of Ownership
Economy and emissions aren't too far off those of the vehicle this car is based upon, the Fiesta. There's been some small controversy around the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine not making anything like its claimed fuel economy figures in real world conditions, but that can be said of many small capacity turbocharged petrol engines. It's just a quirk of the NEDC fuel testing program. This 140PS variant claims to manage 52.3mpg on the combined cycle and 125g/km of CO2 - which is exactly the same as the returns you'd get from the lesser 125PS version of this engine and a lot better than the figures managed by the base 112PS 1.5 Ti-VCT engine (which delivers just 44.8mpg and 149g/km). Obviously, you'd to better by opting for the 1.5 TDCi diesel; that manages 64.2mpg and 115g/km.
The market for buyers who'll be prepared to spend around £18,000 on a Ford EcoSport will be relatively small but even for this amount of cash, this flagship variant looks reasonable value if you look at how much more you'll pay in this segment for rivals like Mazda's CX-3 and Honda's HR-V. The performance benefits of the uprated 140PS EcoBoost engine are quite difficult to detect, but they don't impact on efficiency and you do get extra equipment and a more exclusive look at part of the deal. Ultimately, this is the most desirable EcoSport variant yet made. How much that will mean to you is another question.