THE expression "needs must" is something that Ford assiduously adheres to.
The brand simply cannot afford not to be represented in a model sector, particularly if it's a growing one.
So the Ford EcoSport MPV based on the Fiesta platform was really a foregone conclusion. It had to happen.
Ford makes good workmanlike MPVs in the Galaxy or more sporting S-MAX SUV and it has the smaller B-MAX and C-MAX in its range.
but the "lifestyle" EcoSport offers the look and extra room of an off-roader without the associated costs.
It is really a triumph of style over function.
The MPV design on the Fiesta platform has created a boot space which rises from a nominal 333 litres to 1,238 litres and it weighs in at 1,745kg with the bigger body.
Eight models in the series are sold in two trim levels with petrol or diesel engines from 95 to 140ps, with six-speed sequential automatic transmission or the five-speed manual we tried.
Our 95ps turbo-diesel is arguably the most popular choice with its 45mpg economy on test a reasonable return for everyday use, although its not particularly gutsy through the gears or quiet at any speed.
Hard figures show it ambles along but that is maybe what you want and it is roomy and comfortable for four/five. Access is good to the cabin and boot and that has a good shape behind the rear lip.
Visibility is compromised to the back and the rear reversing sensors should be standard as a result, but they are not, which is disappointing.
Side and forward vision is very good and the high riding position gives good sightlines in traffic or over field hedges, with big wipers and good lights for poorer conditions.
The powertrain was workmanlike, felt solid but not quick, and steering responded well as did the footbrake with only modest pedal effort bringing about a quick stop.
I found the handbrake travelled a long way and was not particularly effective on a steep slope we use for this exercise.
Secondary switches were on the facia or steering spokes and had a good feel to their operation with simple clear instruments ahead including a multi-function display. There is a single 12-volt socket to the offside back seat.
Air conditioning is standard and the system worked well throughout the car backed up by powered side windows, but no sunroof is available.
Oddments room is good throughout for a family car and the side-hinged back door is easier to use than a conventional lift-up hatchback. There is no spare tyre, only an inflation-kit which is not ideal.
The EcoSport has a slightly firm ride, but it's not uncomfortable or bouncy, does not roll around corners, wallow or pitch so it is less likely to produce travel sickness than some rivals.
Handling is very safe, undramatic, and it was agile in town thanks to the steering.
As stated, noise levels could be high on bad surfaces or when the engine was heading towards the upper rev-range, particularly in the intermediate gears. It was much more composed cruising on dual carriageways or motorways.
So the Ford EcoSport 1500 diesel does not stand out in any way but does a perfectly capable job in comfort as needs must.