FORD ECOSPORT 2013 – 2017

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Ford EcoSport is a small SUV built on the underpinnings of the Fiesta, but with a taller body, significantly more ground clearance and fascinating styling. Unlike some in this ever-expanding class no EcoSports are offered with all-wheel drive.

EcoSport features bold wheelarches, 4WD-type sill protection and a high window line. Interestingly, there are traces of the Australian-designed Ford Territory in the shape of the wraparound rear window styling.

Bold styling continues inside the cabin, with clever shapes for the centre console area and the binnacle of the instrument panel. Cost saving is obvious in the thin, relatively hard plastics, but the stylists have partly overcome this by embossing these surfaces.

There’s a glovebox that can hold six cans of drink, a drawer under the front passenger seat, a large centre box and useful door pockets, as well as numerous other little nooks and crannies.

Adding to the 4WD look the EcoSport has its spare wheel boldly mounted on the rear door. Boot volume is large because the spare isn’t taking space in the floor. However, the rear door is hinged to open to the side – the wrong side for right-hand-drive Australia. So you have to walk out onto the road when parked at the kerb.

Handling is competent and there’s nice chassis balance and reasonably good feel through the steering. Ride comfort is pretty good. Even badly potholed dirt tracks are generally handled with ease. Well done the European designers.

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Though it looks like a toy the Ford EcoSport has ground clearance of 200 mm, actually putting it into the lower end of genuine 4WDs in its ability to avoid interaction with the landscape. As it’s only driven by the front wheels, traction is likely to be the limiting factor.

We haven’t heard of anyone testing Ford Australia’s claim that its wading depth is 550 mm. But if you’ve photos to prove it we would love to see them…

Two petrol engines are offered: a somewhat aged 1.5-litre four-cylinder and a brilliant little 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost turbo-petrol. Top torque in the turbo goes all the way from 1400 rpm to 4500 rpm, so most drivers will have the engine at its maximum grunt almost all of the time.

The EcoBoost 1.0 engine is only mated to a five-speed manual gearbox so hasn’t had the success it deserves in auto-loving Oz. The 1.5-litre is offered with a five-speed manual or six-speed double-clutch auto. See the What To Look For section of this report for info on the auto.

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Ford EcoSport is in Ford’s usual range of models: Ambiente, Trend and Titanium.

The EcoSport is built in India to cut labour costs, but is generally fitted out to a reasonably high standard.

Though it’s on the small side access to mechanical components for servicing and minor repairs isn’t over difficult. Call on professionals for anything safety related.

Servicing costs are about average for the class and there are is no shortage of Ford dealers Australia wide. With plenty of them in country areas, even remote ones.

There’s a fair spread of insurance premiums prices. Shop around – but be sure you do an accurate comparison.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Powershift automatics have had quite a few problems. Shuddering is usually the first sign, but some may fail to move the car at all. Contact a Ford dealer or the company’s head office to see if any work has been done on the EcoSport you’re considering.

Note that the ACCC recently initiated proceedings with Australia Ford on this matter.

Manual gearboxes appear to be trouble free, but make sure all changes are light and quiet. Try some fast downchanges from third to second as this manoeuvre is the most likely to deteriorate first.

Be sure the engine starts within a couple of seconds even when completely cold. Look over the interior, particularly in the rear seats and boot as these are the most likely to be damaged by harsh use.

Check for signs of previous body repairs by sighting along the panels and looking for ripples. Also look for tiny specs of paint on glass, badges and other unpainted areas.

HOW MUCH?
Budget on spending from $8000 to $12,500 for a 2014 Ford EcoSport Ambiente; $8500 to $13,000 for a 2013 Titanium; $11,000 to $16,000 for a 2015 Titanium or a 2017 Ambiente; $13,000 to $18,000 for a 2016 Titanium; and $15,000 to $21,000 for a 2017 Titanium.

CAR BUYING TIP
Baby SUVs that have been used off-road? Unlikely, but have a look underneath for damage just in case some bold previous owner has given it a go…

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