From the Fiesta through the Focus to the Mondeo, Ford does the best hatchbacks in its class.
Easy to drive and with better ride and handing than rivals, they’ve been class leaders for a generation.
Ford has always struggled a bit with its SUVs, however, lagging behind stellar products from companies like Nissan, Kia, Mazda and Hyundai.
The first generation Ecosport was one such example. The Fiesta-based mini SUV was decent to drive but having the spare wheel strapped in ungainly fashion to the tailgate and Spartan levels of standard equipment hamstrung the car.
Ford refreshed it a couple of years ago, moving the spare wheel and adding extra kit to bring it up to scratch.
Now it’s been given a major restyle and manufacture moved from the Far East to the EU. To my eye the Ecosport’s proportions still aren’t quite right – the Hyundai Kona and Kia Stonic are better looking – but it’s a big improvement on the previous model.
There’s the choice of a 1.5 litre diesel engine with either 100 or 125bhp and Ford’ excellent 1.0 litre three-cylinder turbo petrol unit in either 100, 125 or 140bhp. Setting it aside from most rivals, the Ecosport is now available as a four-wheel drive. It might not be a big seller but it’s a useful addition in the Scottish market where rural buyers often need the extra traction.
The Ecosport is based on the previous rather than the current Fiesta platform. That shouldn’t put you off, though, as that car was one of the most dynamic superminis ever made.
Its high sides means you can’t chuck it into bends with as much abandon as if it were a Fiesta, it’s surprisingly agile and fun to drive.
I took my Ecosport on holiday to the Outer Hebrides and it proved a fantastic companion. Its compact footprint was perfect for the ferry and for Lewis & Harris’s single track roads, while it offers enough comfort to drive all day.
Inside, there was plenty of space for two of us and all our gear, while the dashboard has been nicely modernised with Ford’s touchscreen and voice-activated systems, which make controls easy to use on the move.
The Ecosport is well equipped these days and my Titanium model had most of the toys you’d want, including part-leather seats, auto lights and wipers, cruise control and a rear view camera.
After years of tinkering and improving, Ford has finally made the Ecosport well worth recommending.