The 2018 Ford EcoSport
The 2018 Ford EcoSport has been tweaked to make it more competitive among compact SUVs

Caroline drives the new Ford EcoSport.

The Ford EcoSport first appeared in Ireland in 2014 as Ford’s answer to the compact crossover/SUV craze. It failed to make a huge impression on the Irish market like its Ford Fiesta and Focus stablemates, and even the larger Ford Kuga SUV that also sells well here.

Now Ford is back with a second iteration of the Ford EcoSport compact SUV, citing improved quality, technology and capability as some of the key focus areas for this mid-life refresh. With pricing starting from €26,900, the Ford EcoSport will find a lot of competent rivals to displace.

So what does the Ford EcoSport have new for 2018?

The 2018 Ford EcoSport has had some cosmetic work done and it looks more than ever like a baby Kuga with the same sort of grille shape, headlamps and rear styling – just more in miniature. For sure it all sits a bit awkwardly on the EcoSport’s small frame but it is an improvement. Ford has also introduced more personalisation options and you can select a different roof colour. ST-Line models like the one on test have a sportier appearance with body kit, black roof rails and headlight bezels, rear spoiler, 17-inch alloy wheels, ST-Line badging and a contrast coloured roof and mirror caps included as standard.

The EcoSport is priced above the Fiesta and more in line with Ford Focus pricing. While there is generous headroom inside, it has more in common with the Fiesta in terms of width. In the rear, two will be most comfortable and there are more spacious SUVs/crossovers available in this price range. The boot is 334 litres as before with an adjustable boot floor and low loading sill. The boot door is hinged from the side as opposed to a liftback style boot lid. Apparently some buyers like this feature, but it can be impractical in tight parking spots.

The interior of the 2018 Ford EcoSport
The interior of the 2018 Ford EcoSport

The Ford EcoSport has a snug interior and is well-equipped

The interior dashboard design in the 2018 EcoSport is very similar in layout to the new Fiesta. My ST-Line model was nicely finished with red contrast stitching on the steering wheel and seats. Other ST-Line interior features include a leather-trimmed, flat-bottomed steering wheel, ST-Line branded scuff plates and stainless steel sports pedals. Infotainment is provided via a new 8” touchscreen that connects seamlessly to smartphones via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Controls are easy to navigate and the driving position is quite snug with plenty of adjustment in the driver’s seat and steering wheel.

In Ireland, Ford is avoiding any sparsely trimmed entry models so the car will be available in just two high spec trims – Titanium and for the first time, ST-Line. Standard equipment includes Ford SYNC 3 Navigation with 8” touchscreen, DAB radio, Emergency Assistance, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, rear view camera, keyless start, cruise control and part leather trim.

In Ireland, the new EcoSport is offered with Ford’s excellent 1.0-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol engine (125 or 140 hp) and a 1.5-litre diesel with 100 hp. A six speed manual comes as standard though an automatic is also available. The Ford EcoSport is front wheel drive by default but for 2018 it’s offered for the first time with ‘Intelligent All Wheel Drive’ for improved traction on- and off-road.

Rear seating in the Ford EcoSport
Rear seating in the Ford EcoSport

Petrol Is A Good Mate For The Ford EcoSport

My test car was a 1.0 EcoBoost 125hp in ST-Line trim and it retails from €28,180. The engine is indeed fantastic with great refinement and smooth power delivery, though it doesn’t feel as lively as the Fiesta EcoBoost. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption was about 7 litres per 100km and motor tax for this model is €200 per year.

You sit high in the Ford EcoSport so on the road it feels more like an authentic SUV than some more low slung rivals. The ride and handling has been tuned specifically for customers in Europe and the car stays composed through corners, with nicely-weighted steering. The manual gearbox gives a pleasant, precise gear change. You will find yourself backing off in the corners because there is some body roll making a Fiesta more fun in this regard. Generally the EcoSport scores well for comfort, though it can be upset by uneven surfaces and bumps around town.

The compact SUV segment is super competitive and the Ford is at the more expensive end of the market. The cars do come well-equipped with good turbo powered engines, but the space inside is not as generous as some rivals. Ford has improved the EcoSport considerably so that in its own right it’s an acceptable offering and a step in the right direction for Ford’s grand SUV plan.

The Ford EcoSport is the baby of Ford's SUV range
The Ford EcoSport is the baby of Ford’s SUV range

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Ford EcoSport ST-Line 1.0T EcoBoost
€28,180 (Range from €26,900)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Torque: 170Nm
12.7 seconds
Top speed: 111km/h
CO2 emissions:  
Motor tax: 
€200 per year