The Ford EcoSport uses tried and tested Fiesta mechanicals to offer buyers a small SUV with added ride height and chunky good looks. Now it's got a more efficient 1.5-litre EcoBlue diesel engine, sleeker styling and a much classier interior with more sophisticated infotainment technology. In short, it's a far better product all-round.
The EcoSport now gets a choice of five engines, three petrol units and two diesels. Petrol-wise, Ford's award-winning 1.0 EcoBoost three cylinder engine is available in 100, 125 and 140PS guises. The 125PS petrol variant can be ordered with the option of auto transmission. If you want a diesel, there's the choice of a 100PS 1.5 TDCi unit and front wheel drive or Ford's latest 1.5-litre 125PS EcoBlue powerplant mated either to front wheel drive or to the brand's 'Intelligent All Wheel Drive' system.
Intelligent All Wheel Drive measures how the car's wheels are gripping the road surface and can adjust torque delivery up to 50/50 between the front and rear wheels in under 20 milliseconds - twenty times quicker than it takes to blink. The system seamlessly transitions torque between all four wheels and provides a more secure footing on the road especially in slippery conditions.
We've yet to try the new EcoSport but Ford says that this model has been developed to deliver ride and handling tuned specifically for customers in Europe, with optimised springs, dampers, spring aids, steering gear, Electronic Stability Programme settings and steering assistance profiles.
The EcoSport's styling has been brought more into line with the look of Ford's larger SUVs, the Kuga and the Edge. A more sculpted bonnet with a central bulge delivers a cleaner front-end appearance and the front-end design is now dominated by a smarter trapezoidal grille design and distinctive angular headlights that incorporate LED daytime running lights. Angular fog light housings complete a front three quarter profile that was apparently inspired by the straps of a rucksack and was designed to reflect an adventurous character. The EcoSport's rear bumper and tail light designs have also been revised to deliver a cleaner, more sculpted appearance. Customers can continue to choose a boot-mounted spare wheel option.
Inside, there are easier to use controls and soft-touch materials, plus a new centre console featuring fewer buttons. New seats designs improve long distance comfort and there's an optional adjustable interior lighting system that can be set to one of seven colours. Smart stowage solutions include a new height adjustable boot floor that can be raised to provide concealed storage, or lowered to increase luggage capacity to 334 litres. That new centre console features a built-in folding, sliding passenger armrest with a storage compartment ideal for tablet computers or snacks. 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.
And in summary? Well in this guise, the Ford EcoSport seems to be a much more promising prospect. It looks a more serious product - and is - in almost every respect. Plus, as before, it's practical and decently equipped. Ride and refinement are now very good by class standards too - and the SYNC 3 connectivity system is brilliant.
All these reasons will combine with the small SUV segment's current popularity to ensure that Ford will probably sell as many of these as they can import. My daughter, for example, would love one. It is, as ever, a case of giving the market what it wants.Click here to find out more about our Ford EcoSport range