Big fun in a small and sweet package

The Ford EcoSport is a sweet and small sport utility vehicle geared towards the urban buyer.

In previous decades, a few sport utility vehicles were available in small two-door formats. Modern expectations have long since relegated them to history. However, the Ford EcoSport aims directly for that wistfulness, harkening back to a fun time for the subcompact SUV, while bringing current sensibilities to the segment.

The EcoSport is built primarily around the urban lifestyle having all the primary elements SUV buyers want, without the drawbacks. These are; raised ride heights for clearing urban decay (making the occasional off-road trip to inner Jamaica more pleasant and providing confidence when the weather goes haywire) as well as higher seating position for better visibility.

What’s missing? Large diesel engine, four-wheel drive, and girth. But, that’s okay. Those aren’t included because the average SUV buyer doesn’t want or need them. A bigger engine means lower fuel efficiency, while diesel ups the vehicular emissions. A large displacement motor isn’t necessary for the EcoSport, in significant part due to its compact size and the award-winning engine under its bonnet – turbocharged 1-litre three-cylinder. Termed EcoBoost, it routes 123bhp and 125lb/ft of torque through a six-speed automatic transmission and to the front wheels.

In a fun throwback tone from older generation of small SUVs, the EcoSport mimics that styling with a rear hatch mounted spare tyre.

Ah, the front wheels! There are those who think it’s not an SUV unless it’s four-wheel drive, but the reality is that most SUV drivers rarely need or use this capacity. Removing this system reduces mechanical complexity and weight, making the EcoSport even more fuel-efficient.

Finally, who says an SUV has to be big and burly? All that extra mass further impacts fuel economy again, and in tight urban spaces, makes a vehicle annoyingly unwieldy. So we come back to the EcoSport. It’s compact, but practical due to a clever use of interior space. There’s plenty of storage spots around the cabin and the trunk with its distinctive hatch-mounted spare tyre for that throwback design feel, has a multi-level floor. A lot of the modern amenities come standard, such as automatic wipers and lights. There’s a good stereo running Ford’s SYNC system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The dual USB ports for smartphone integration are lit, making them easy to find at night. The screen can be operated by touch or via steering wheel-mounted buttons.

The EcoSport is compact but practical due to a clever use of interior space and having plenty of storage spots around the cabin.

Interior refinement is good enough to make most noises fade into the background at speed. Speaking of speed, the EcoSport is not slow. It drives on its massive torque curve, pulling smoothly when asked and able to return high fuel economy numbers. With a raised ride height, the Ford isn’t compromised on the road, staying compliant enough to be comfortable. It’s neither too harsh nor too soft. In case you do have to use it off-road, there are some assistance features; like low gear and Hill Descent Control.

Summed up, the Ford EcoSport is perfect for the urban dweller; being small enough to operate in the tightly confined nature of a city, while retaining enough comfort and fuel efficiency for daily use. It can be used for light off-roading, as the size, weight, ride height and power delivery makes it able to tackle terrain that would render the average sedan useless.

The Ford EcoSport is available from Kingston Industrial Garage.