The new Ford Ecosport will launch early in 2018, heavily revised to try and take more advantage of the mushrooming compact SUV market.
The growing obsession amongst UK buyers for SUVs has seen the market grow by more than 20% a year – in 2016 SUVs took more than a quarter of all UK car sales.
Since 2013 some 40,000 of these have been Ford EcoSports, despite the model attracting lacklustre reviews on its launch, criticised for poor road manners and a mediocre interior.
The new model has had its ride and handling specifically tuned for European roads, and revised styling to more closely identify it with its larger sister SUVs the Kuga and Edge.
A ‘refined’ interior includes redesigned controls for easier use, new soft-touch surfaces and dash changes, including ‘floating’ touchscreens of up to eight inches in size.
Technology changes include the availability of cruise control with a speed limiter for the first time on the EcoSport, along with a rear parking camera and Ford’s latest Sync 3 connectivity system.
The major mechanical changes to the EcoSport, however, will be added some months after the revised model goes on sale, with the addition of a new diesel engine and all-wheel-drive system.
Matched to an equally new six-speed manual gearbox, the 1.5-litre diesel has been refined to cut its CO2 emissions, though Ford is not yet quoting figures. It produces 125hp and 300Nm of torque, and is available as standard in front-wheel-drive form.
The 1.5-litre unit will also be the only engine matched to the new all-wheel-drive system, which in normal running powers the front wheels but will be able almost instantaneously to send up to 50% of the torque to the rear wheels.
Alongside the diesel Ford also intends to launch a new 100hp 1.0-litre petrol model in mid 2018, promising improved economy and emissions over existing powertrains. Launch engine options will be a 100hp 1.5-litre diesel and 125hp and 140hp versions of the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine.
Prices for the new EcoSport range will be released closer to its showroom debut.