The EcoSport is Ford’s smallest SUV.
Launched in 2014, the first generation model was panned for its Spartan interior, ungainly looks, and its outmoded boot-mounted spare wheel.
Learning from past mistakes, a year later Ford upped the level of standard kit, put the spare tyre inside the car, and gave the exterior a restyle.
Fast forward a few more years and Ford has given the EcoSport another major overhaul.
There’s chunkier styling, a much more modern interior, and a new diesel engine.
The majority of its rivals are front-wheel drive only, and so the EcoSport has been until now, when Ford introduced the option of intelligent four-wheel drive.
Even more remarkably, it’s pretty good off road. There’s 19cm of ground clearance and its 550mm of wading depth outshines the super-rugged Suzuki Jimny, which can only dip its wheels into 320mm of water.
It’s tall for its ilk as well, towering 11cm over a rival such as the Seat Arona.
That gives it the kind of high-up driving position that not many supermini-based SUVs can match.
There’s also a new ST-Line trim which sits near the top of the range, and I spent a week with that version paired with the latest Ford 1.5 litre diesel engine and four-wheel drive.
It’s based on the Fiesta – which is no bad thing, as that car is a delight to drive. The six-speed manual gearbox is smooth and fast-changing, and the EcoSport handles well for such a tall car.
Inside, there’s the same 8in touchscreen as found in the latest Fiesta and build quality has improved dramatically over the previous model.
Despite its height, the EcoSport’s only a touch longer than the Fiesta so don’t expect acres of room for rear passengers. The side-hinged tailgate’s awkward to use and an outright hindrance in busy car parks. The 356-litre boot is a nice, usable square shape though.
Rivals for the EcoSport include the Nissan Juke, Renault Captur, Mazda CX-3, Hyundai Kona and the Suzuki Vitara.
I’d be hard pressed to say the EcoSport is better than many of these rivals. There are plenty of positives though – a more upmarket interior, good driving dynamics and better off-road/bad weather capability than many of its opposition means the EcoSport will find plenty of fans.