Driven to distraction by juddering EcoSport
Almost the best thing that can be said of the new Ford EcoSport, pictured right, which I was testing in ST line at the beginning of this month, is that it is better than the model which arrived on these shores four years ago. That Indian-built Brazilian-designed car was woeful, and production with fairly big investment has now switched to Romania.
Unfortunately, the vehicle is still a dog's dinner that tries to look rugged and competent, but fails. There is still a side-opening door at the back, rather than the normal hatch which is incredibly annoying on so many fronts, and would totally put me off the car - as it was impractical to use in our garage or in a tight space when out shopping.
The ST line is packed with stuff, tries to be comfortable (it features "Partial Leather/Suede Seat Trim with Red Stitching" which reminded me of the BMW X2 I had been driving the week before) and the car can have an impressive intelligent all-wheel drive system, but at nearly every turn there is something just out of place that jars. Finish is poor and space, especially in the rear for anybody above normal height, is very tight.
Then there is the price. The EcoSport starts at a whopping €26,900, the ST line is from €28,180, but the model I was testing had optional features to bring it to €31,070. Prices for the AWD version will be even more. You would have hoped for more from the steering and ride as the EcoSport is derived from the Fiesta, which is one of the best in its class and gave me one of the most thrilling weeks last October when I took one West.
But it just does not happen for the EcoSport. The car judders, rolls and is never smooth. The one-litre EcoBoost engine in the test car tries its best, but is never fast and consumption really suffers if it is pushed hard. Ford knows how to make big SUVs and massive off-roaders, but that expertise hasn't trickled down. It needs to fix it soon or risk being left totally out of the massive swing to small SUVs/Crossovers. The company knows its driving dynamics too, it is such a shame that it couldn't be bothered to put them into the EcoSport. A wasted opportunity all round.