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Car of the Week: Ford EcoSport ST-Line 1.0

Car of the Week: Ford EcoSport ST-Line 1.0 Price range: £23,090 (as tested)

THE FORD EcoSport is based on the Fiesta, which is a pretty good starting point. And while it's front-wheel drive only for now, a diesel four-wheel-drive version will join the range later.
I took this baby Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) on a trip to Brighton one weekend and I must admit that it made me think positively.

Take the wheel and you’re immediately in command of a range of advanced driver assistance systems, all from an elevated driving position.

The Ecosport’s handling is average among its small SUV rivals. It steers with reasonable fluidity, delivering good steering weight, but it runs out of grip fairly quickly, so doesn't inspire much confidence.

The EcoSport comes with a choice of three innovative and advanced engines. First, there’s the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine, six times winner of the International Engine of the Year award.

Available with the options of 125PS and 140PS, you get all the power of a conventional 1.6-litre engine, with outstanding fuel economy and low CO2 emissions.

A 1.5-litre TDCi diesel engine delivers 100 PS and CO2 emissions of just 107 g/km. And a turbocharged 1.5-litre EcoBlue diesel engine offers 125 PS of power with CO2 emissions from 119 g/km.

The trouble for Ford is that while driving experience has traditionally been a weak point of the small SUV segment, some fine models are now available, most notably the Kia Stonic and Seat Arona.

The dashboard is also based on the Fiesta, and most of the major controls are easy to use on the move. A 6.5in colour touchscreen is standard, while Titanium and ST-Line models get an 8.0in version.

Both respond quickly and come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, although the Seat Arona's on-screen graphics are slightly sharper.

Ford has worked hard to improve the Ecosport's interior quality from the previous model. In fact, this is probably the one area that has taken the biggest step forward and the interior is now among the best in class.

One interesting point was trying to open the boot. I spent what seemed an eternity attempting to open it only to eventually find that access was via a large and impractical side-opening door. However, that means you can’t get to the boot when you back into a tight parking space.

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