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Ford EcoSport Titanium 1.5 TDCi

Click to view picture gallery“The fast-growing compact SUV-
  crossover sector is the place to be,
  particularly if you
re a car maker;
  and especially so if you’re the UK
  top-selling car brand...”

WHICH IS WHY FORD under their global 'One Ford' policy have just introduced their EcoSport five-door compact SUV to Great Britain.
Ford launched the EcoSport to the UK media at the recent Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, where more than a thousand 'Blue Oval' eco- and fuel-efficient vehicles were on hand to transport Games officials and competitors to and from the venues.

This latest-generation EcoSport model is based on the current Fiesta platform for Europe, and will be built in Chennai, India. Rivals are numerous and include Nissan's Juke, the Renault Captur, Dacia Duster and Peugeot 2008.

EcoSport prices range from 14,995 to £17,495 and Ford of Britain expects this important new compact SUV to achieve around 3,500 UK sales in a full year.

“Although the EcoSport
is underpinned by
a Fiesta platform, the
styling is much more
aggressive and
characterful — and
despite the
fascia panel,
the EcoSport is most
definitely not
a Fiesta on stilts...”
The EcoSport arrives with the choice of three engines including Ford's 2012, 2013 and 2014 International Engine of the Year the petrol-fuelled 1.0-litre, three-cylinder 123bhp EcoBoost. Also in the line-up is the 110bhp 1.5-litre petrol (with manual and automatic gearbox options), and the 88bhp 1.5-litre TDCi turbodiesel that's likely to be chosen by six out of ten UK customers.

There are two levels of specification on offer; Titanium and Titanium X, both available with all three engines. In this sector there is virtually no demand for four-wheel drive; many customers will be driving exclusively in the urban jungle rather than off-roading in the sticks, so all EcoSport models are front-wheel drive.

When the larger Ford Edge SUV arrives in 2015 Ford will have three different ranges to satisfy SUV/Crossover customers, whether it's a small, medium or large one they want.

Although the EcoSport is underpinned by a Fiesta platform, the styling is much more aggressive and characterful and although the cabin's fascia treatment is Fiesta-like, the EcoSport is most definitely not a Fiesta on stilts.

The tall and upright exterior design will not appeal to everyone: the 'Blowfish' mouth-style front grille and the relatively old-fashioned design of the spare wheel being positioned on the side-hinged rear door are two areas that divide media opinions and, to some degree, the public will be the same lots of likes; lots of dislikes.

Inside the seating is 'high-riding'; combined with large windows, visibility is really good all-round. Legroom and headroom is first class, and with all the seats in use there is a 310-litre boot. Tumble forward the 60:40 split rear seats and this increases to 1,238 litres. Mounting the spare wheel on the rear door harks back to 'old school' 4x4s but it does free up more load space.

The Titanium spec is relatively high and includes AirCon, power front and rear windows and door mirrors, remote central locking, stability and traction control, 16-inch alloy wheels, a full set of airbags (front, side and curtain), daytime running lights, front fog lights, keyless entry with start button, multifunction leather-covered steering wheel, on-board computer and alarm.

“Despite the higher
mileage needed to justify
the extra cost of diesel
engines and diesel fuel,
60% of buyers will
choose the turbodiesel
because of its
better fuel consumption
and slightly lower
tax levels...”
The 1,000 more expensive Titanium X model comes with bigger 17-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, auto lights and wipers, and cruise control. Ford SYNC, with voice-operated APPLINK, is a 250 option.

As for driveability and despite its tall stance the EcoSport inherits the Fiesta's nimbleness. It also has very little bodyroll during cornering on country roads, and the suspension seems well damped so the ride is comfortable. Oh, and it easy to park, too all characteristics that most 'real' customers want.

And although the steering is accurate it offered little in the way of feedback; however, its lightness-of-touch will be welcomed in the city.

Our test drive programme in Scotland was centred around the two most popular engines: the 1.5-litre 88bhp TDCi turbodiesel and the award-winning three-cylinder 1.0-litre EcoBoost with its turboed 123bhp. Although the 1.5-litre 110bhp petrol engine carries the headline price of 14,995 and is available with manual and auto gearboxes, it is not expected to be as popular with UK buyers as the other two.

Despite the high mileage needed these days to justify the extra cost of diesel engines and diesel fuel, 60% of UK buyers are still likely to go for the 88bhp 1.5-litre turbodiesel because of its better fuel consumption and slightly lower tax levels.

This turbodiesel unit costs 500 more than the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol but it is significantly more sluggish to drive; zero to 62mph takes 14 seconds and the maximum speed is 99mph. Officially, fuel consumption is 61.4mpg in the Combined Cycle with CO2 emissions of 120g/km. This means road tax costs 0 for the first year of ownership then 30 for year two onwards. On a short run over rural and urban roads, my test drive returned 47.2mpg.

By comparison the 123bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost petrol engine felt livelier and more responsive. In addition to being 500 cheaper to buy than the diesel, it's faster (112mph) and quicker: the zero to 62mph acceleration takes 12.7 seconds. Its Combined Cycle figure is 53.3mpg (actually 38.1mpg on test using the same route as the diesel model). With CO2 emissions of 125g/km, road tax will be the same 0 for the first year but for year two onwards it goes up to 110.

“The EcoSport is nice
to drive with stable
handling. Other reasons
to buy one are that it’s
relatively roomy
with good load space
and, along with
competitive pricing,
you also get low
running costs...”
High-mileage or long-term owners will probably be justified in choosing the diesel engine, but those who cover less miles will enjoy the cheaper purchase price of the 1.0-litre petrol unit and, more importantly, the better performance in terms of outright speed and swifter acceleration.

It's really all about torque: the three-pot 1.0-litre petrol unit delivers 125lb ft of torque from 1,400rpm; the four-cylinder 1.5-litre turbodiesel serves up 151lb ft but at a higher 1,750rpm. So Yes, the diesel unit offers more torque but in real-life the 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine delivers better pick-up and response from lower engine speeds in town traffic, negotiating out of junctions or going around roundabouts.

Even during rural use the acceleration was better. Despite it returning poorer fuel economy and costing more in road tax, the more powerful 1.0-litre petrol unit would be my choice it is just nicer to drive with more zip when you need it. Both engines have a five-speed manual gearbox and, although no 4x4 version is offered, with its higher ground clearance, underbody skid plates and traction control some light off-road capability is possible.

The EcoSport is good to drive with stable handling and fine visibility. Other reasons to buy one are that it's relatively roomy with good load space and, along with competitive pricing, you also get low running costs.
David Miles

Ford EcoSport Titanium 1.5 TDCi | 16,495
Maximum speed: 99mph | 0-62mph: 14 seconds | Test Average: 47.2mpg
Power: 88bhp | Torque: 151lb ft | CO2 120g/km