The original Ford EcoSport wasn’t a terrible car but nor was it up to Ford’s usual very high standards.
Ungainly looking and with the spare wheel bolted to the outside of the boot, it fell well short of the best of its opposition.
It had a spartan equipment list and only the barest shadow of the amazing handing of its sister car, the Ford Fiesta.
Ford got to work fixing its mistake and a revamped model in 2015 dropped the boot-mounted spare and fixed a few other issues.
Since then it has been given a further restyle and equipment upgrade.
I spent a week with the latest ST-Line model, equipped with Ford’s peppy 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine. Prices start at £20,550 and the model I drove cost £21,645, with a couple of grand of extras added including a B&O sound system, Desert Island Blue colour and snazzy 18-inch alloys.
Equipment is better than it once was, with an easy-to-use touchscreen operating the infotainment, and a good-quality satnav system. Given the freezing Scottish conditions, I would have appreciated heated seats and steering wheel. The heating system gets going quickly, though, and Ford’s QuickClear windscreen system defrosts the windows in under a minute.
Fords are always easy to drive and the EcoSport is no exception. Gear changes are smooth and it’s easy to find the biting point on the clutch.
It handles nicely, too. On a journey to Elie, it was a delight to throw around some of the lovely country roads that lead into the glorious East Neuk of Fife. Driving along the coastline to Kirkcaldy, it sat comfortably at 60mph, the engine nice and quiet once sixth gear was engaged.
Combined fuel economy is a very reasonable 43.5mpg.
The EcoSport is finally the SUV it should have been. Handling is tidy, equipment is decent, and while rear legroom is only reasonable, there is plenty of head room and a good-sized boot.
The biggest challenge may come from within Ford’s own stable.
The Puma is another small SUV that also sits on the Fiesta platform and is actually marginally cheaper than the EcoSport.
It’s stunning looking and great to drive – two reasons it was crowned Scottish Car of the Year 2020.
If I were buying a small SUV, it’s the Puma that would be top of my list.