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Ford Ecosport interior, tech and practicality

Comfort and visibility

The Ford Ecosport certainly doesn’t offer the last word in ultramodern interior design flair, and some of the switches give away that this is one of Ford’s oldest models and is based on the last-shape Fiesta. The eight-inch touchscreen sitting on top of the dashboard gives you the must-have connectivity features, and there are shortcut buttons for the audio settings, skipping tracks and turning the screen off. How often you’ll use these, we’re not sure.

It’s quite drab inside the Ecosport thanks to swathes of grey and black plastic. But these seemingly never-ending plastics feel very durable and put together well, so the tiny Ford feels like it’ll stand up to years of use and abuse. The dashboard and footwells can just be wiped clean, which is handy if you live an active lifestyle.

But you might find that the footwells get scuffed and muddy often. The car’s narrow body and its relatively wide centre console means there’s not much room for your legs and feet. On a long journey, this could become uncomfortable. We also found it quite difficult to find the ideal driving position.

All-round visibility, on the other hand, is pretty good thanks to the Ecosport’s tall, upright stance. The rear window is a little small and the rear pillars are quite thick so rear visibility could be better – but this is the case for most SUVs you care to mention.

Standard equipment

There are three common trim levels in the Ecosport lineup. Zetec is first and gets 16-inch alloy wheels and a chrome grille. Other equipment includes a heated front windscreen for quick frost clearing on cold mornings, steering wheel audio controls and Ford’s MyKey tech. This allows one key to be programmed with maximum volume and speed settings – perfect if you’re going to be sharing your car with a keen teenager.

Titanium swaps the wheels for silver 17-inch ones and adds roof rails, along with automatic headlights, cruise control, an automatically dimming rearview mirror for easier driving at night, ambient lighting, climate control and a reversing camera.

ST-Line adds a meaner look with dark wheels and trim, new bumpers and the option of a contrast-coloured roof. It gets Titanium’s kit list but with red interior stitching and stainless steel inserts for the pedals.

If you want the Ecosport to look as tough as possible, then hunt out the Active trim, which adds comically large wheel arch mouldings and exclusive leather upholstery. It won’t turn you into Bear Grylls but the look is there.

Infotainment and audio

The infotainment setup matches a Fiesta of the same age, so Ecosports produced up to late 2017 come with a teeny tiny screen – which looks so far away it might as well be outside the car – and a blizzard of buttons. Thankfully, newer cars get an eight-inch screen that’s right there in front of you. 

The button count has reduced massively and Ford’s touchscreen is really easy to use for the most part. Its big tiles are clear to read and easy to hit while you’re driving, and the responses from the system are generally pretty good. However, we found it hard to find the DAB radio station we wanted to listen to, and the screen’s graphics aren’t the sharpest around.

Ford has kept a row of buttons underneath the touchscreen, including a volume dial and a button that turns the display off while keeping the infotainment on. But having a ‘tune’ dial seems unnecessary for the majority of buyers who’ll use DAB, and the play and skip buttons are only useful for skipping radio stations – Ford removed a CD player from the Ecosport when this screen came in.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard, so you can use your phone’s apps for navigation and media playback instead. There are a couple of well-placed USB sockets for connecting your phone to the screen. This’ll be particularly handy if you buy an Ecosport Zetec, as this misses out on the built-in sat nav fitted to higher-spec cars.

Zetec cars also get six speakers while other cars get seven. If you’re a music enthusiast, look out for cars fitted with the X Pack, because this added a 10-speaker B&O Premium audio system with 360-degree sound.

Rear seat space

Every car’s rear-seat legroom is impacted in some way by how tall the driver is. But it’s particularly noticeable in the Ecosport; if the driver is over six feet tall, the rear-seat occupants won’t have much legroom to enjoy. With a lesser-legged driver at the helm, the Ecosport offers a fairly decent amount of space.

What’s not up for debate is headroom, which is excellent. Even tall adults are unlikely to find their hairstyles brushing the headliner, and that’s despite the raised seating position. Incidentally, the raised seats and relatively big windows give young kids a good view out.

A nearly flat rear bench means three adults can squeeze into the back seats, although this is best for short journeys. There are Isofix points on the outer rear seats, but make sure you take your kids along for a test-drive – you might find they can easily kick your seatback.

With Ford being an American brand, you’re never short of cupholders. There are two each for the outer rear seats, and the door bins are the perfect size for cups or bottles – but they’re too small to be useful for anything else. Same goes for the front door bins, and there’s a slanted cubby on the dash that’s meant to look like a grab handle. We found it a good place to hold a notebook, but we can’t see it being useful to every buyer.

Boot space

It may have taken inspiration from utilitarian 4x4s, but the Ecosport’s side-hinged tailgate makes no sense for a small crossover that’s designed first and foremost for town driving. You can’t reverse into a parking bay because there’ll be no room for the boot door to swing open, and you also won’t be able to open the boot if someone parks behind you in a parallel bay.

What’s more, if you’ve parked next to the kerb on the left-hand side of the road, you can’t get in the boot because it’s hinged the wrong way for right-hand-drive markets. So to get anything out of the boot, you have to walk into the road. And if you’re getting a pushchair out, you have to manoeuvre it around the boot door. As a final point before we’re dragged away from the boot door, the handle for it – disguised as a tail-light – doesn’t operate particularly well and there’s no handle to close it, so you’ll be grabbing the dirty body work every time you shut the boot.

Once you’ve got around the frustrating door, the boot itself is a good shape. There’s no load lip, so it’s easy to put heavy items in, and the opening is tall and wide. We just wish there was more of it – the Ecosport’s 334-litre boot is near the bottom of the small SUV class, although it is slightly more than you get in a Fiesta.

The Ecosport does have a trick up its sleeve, though. If you pull the rope levers at the back of the seat bases, they pull forwards and fold up neatly behind the front seats. At this point, you can either use the freed-up space to put tall things in – a bit like the Honda Jazz’s flip-up Magic Seats – or you can pull the rear seats down to create a totally flat boot floor. We wish all cars did that.

Another piece of clever engineering is its 'honeycomb' parcel shelf, which is said to be able to support 300kg.

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