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The Top Gear car review:Ford EcoSport
What is it like on the road?
A whole lot better than it was in the past. Clearly embarrassed by its initial efforts, Ford’s engineers have knuckled down and really tried to squeeze everything they can from a car that didn’t get the best start in life. It now does a passable impression of a Fiesta at town speeds, which is where it’s likely to spend most of its time, but in the corners it tends to topple over and feels considerably more top heavy. Not surprising really because it is, but other rivals like the Seat Arona are more closely aligned to the superminis they’re spawned from.
More sound insulation plus suspension and steering tuned especially for Europe means it doesn’t feel as flimsy as it once did. It doesn’t ride too badly either, but the soft springs mean you’re bobbled around on patchy road surfaces. The light and responsive steering will be perfectly fine for 90 per cent of customers, but lacks the whisper of feedback you get in a Fiesta that makes it a genuine pleasure to drive.
Engine choices now include Ford’s three-cylinder 1.0 EcoBoost with either 123bhp or 138bhp, and a 1.5 diesel with either 99bhp or 123bhp. The more powerful diesel is only available with AWD (a first for the EcoSport), while a six-speed manual is standard – only the 123bhp petrol is offered with a six-speed auto. As you’d expect the diesel’s CO2 emissions are lower, but it’s the brilliant three-pot petrol we’d recommend – specifically the 138bhp version. OK, so 0-62mph in 11.8 seconds isn’t fast but the in-gear punch feels healthier than that, it revs smoothly past 6,000rpm and stays quiet and generally unobtrusive the rest of the time.
In all honesty, it’s a bit of a hollow criticism marking this type of car down on speed, steering feel and cornering ability, because the vast majority of customers couldn’t care less.
In summary then, whereas before we’d actively steer you away from the EcoSport for the sub-par way it drove, it’s now adequate for the class but still lacking any sparkle from its Fiesta bloodline.