Ford EcoSport

ST-Line 1.5

Ford EcoSport, front
Ford EcoSport, front
Ford EcoSport, front
Ford EcoSport, front
Ford EcoSport, side
Ford EcoSport, rear
Ford EcoSport, rear
Ford EcoSport, boot
Ford EcoSport, interior

FORD'S smallest SUV struggled to win friends when it arrived four years ago but a number of improvements have now made it a match for the opposition in a crowded sector.

A heavily updated version arrived last autumn and the EcoSport now looks and drives much better.

It is now built in Europe and has been engineered for European tastes and roads. It is still not perfect but it is much better than when it first arrived on our roads.

With a sharper sportier look that favours the rest of Ford's SUV family the EcoSport now boasts a more than decent interior that is largely taken from the best-selling Fiesta.

At the same time as the major revamp Ford introduced a brand new engine into the range and I tried it out in the top-spec ST Line trim.

The 1.5-litre TDCI EcoBlue engine delivers 125ps and is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. This model also boasted four-wheel-drive and cost £24,250.

It has a top speed of 112mph and tackles the sprint to 62mph in a sensible 11.3 seconds.

Like most diesels it is a bit noisy on start-up but it soon settles down and offers more than decent economy. Under the tougher new WLTP regulations it can deliver 47.1mpg with emissions of 140g/km.

TheEcoSportnow feels better to drive and the gear change is slick and the steering is nicely weighted. The suspension changes mean that it is now suited better to our roads but there is still plenty body roll and the ride remains busy.

Grip is excellent thanks to the all-wheel-drive (AWD) system which works a treat in bad weather.

Overall it is the redesigned interior that is the most impressive part of the newEcoSportwith decent switchgear plucked from the Fiesta and a similar tablet-style infotainment screen on top of the centreconsule.

It is easy to use and coupled with a better instrument panel and some improved plastics the cabin is now much nicer to sit in. The ST-Line also offers a generous amount of standard equipment and includes most of the latest safety features.

Standard equipment on this model includesan ST-Line bodystyling kit which really improves the car's looks. It includes dark 17-inch alloy wheels, an ST-Line unique grille, a large rear spoiler, a contrast painted roof and sports pedals as well as some ST trim.

You also get partial leather trim on the seats, a leather steering wheel, electronic automatic temperature control, power-foldable door mirrors, puddle lighting, Ford Sync 3 Navigation, DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a rear view camera with parking sensors, ambient lighting and a host of other features.

The cabin will take four adults with ease but rear legroom is still quite tight. The boot offers 355-litres of luggage space but the tailgate is still an annoying side-opening affair and that is still a pain.

FAST FACTS

Ford EcoSport ST-Line 1.5

Price: £24,250

Mechanical: 125ps, 1,498cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 112mph

0-62mph: 11.3 seconds

Combined MPG: 47.1

Insurance Group: 13

C02 emissions: 140g/km

Bik rating: 36%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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