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There’s nothing very SUV-like about the way the EcoSport

drives. High seating position aside, it feels much like the Fiesta supermini or

B-Max MPV. That’s no surprise when it shares the same basic underpinnings.

Driver appeal is the EcoSport’s strongest card against the

2008 and Captur. Precise and well weighted steering, agile handling and

suspension which strikes a good balance between comfort and control make the

EcoSport good fun on a country road.

The way the car drives solo bodes well for stability when towing, although sadly

very conservative towing limits mean you won’t see too many EcoSport’s on site

next summer. Even the 90PS 1.5-litre diesel is restricted by a legal towing maximum of just 750kg. The same applies to the 125PS 1.0T Ecoboost petrol, while

the 112PS 1.5-litre petrol can tow just 700kg or 400kg when fitted with an

automatic gearbox.

If you have an ultra-light caravan or trailer tent, however,

the EcoSport is worth considering, especially the 1.0T Ecoboost. We preferred

this engine to the diesel, as it’s livelier and less noisy. Official figures

promise 53.3mpg on the combined cycle, while the diesel returns 61.4mpg.

Inside, the rear of the cabin is roomy enough for adults to

travel in reasonable comfort, but the standard of finish is disappointing. Ford

says this will improve by the time production versions arrive in UK showrooms in April. To be fair, a car on static display which Ford promised was closer to

production standards was better put together.

Boot space is a respectable 310-375 litres depending on the

angle the rear-seat’s backrest is set to. However, a side-hinged tailgate will

be awkward if someone parks too close behind you.

A four-star rating from safety experts Euro NCAP is also

disappointing when many rivals have achieved five stars.

Prices start from £14,995 and order books are open now. If

the meagre towing limit isn’t an issue then you’ll find the EcoSport is an

appealing addition to a growing sector of the market, but a 2008 is better

finished and more practical.