David MottonSee other tow car reviews written by David Motton
Tow Car Editor
This version of the EcoSport might be heavier and have more pulling power than any other, but is it a practical car for caravanning?
The Ford EcoSport has been updated to keep up with newer designs like the Mazda CX-3. A new 1.5-litre EcoBlue diesel has been added to the range, and it's available with four-wheel drive. That makes for a healthy kerbweight, as well as better performance in poor weather. We're driving the range-topping ST-Line.
Take a look at the spec, and at first the EcoSport looks like a promising small tow car.
It has a strong diesel engine, four-wheel drive and a 1520kg kerbweight. That makes this by far the heaviest model in the EcoSport range, with an 85% match figure of 1292kg.
However, look further down the spec sheet and you'll come across a disappointing towing limit of just 1100kg. That rules out the EcoSport for anything other than a very light caravan.
We matched it to a Swift Basecamp with a MiRO of 916kg. The EcoSport had no trouble pulling the Basecamp up to speed - hardly a surprise, given how light it is. With 221lb ft of torque, by rights you'd think the engine was up to the job of pulling something heavier.
Certainly, there's enough muscle to deal with hill starts while towing a lightweight tourer. We had to give the handbrake a firm pull to stop car and caravan creeping backwards, but otherwise the Ford handled the hill start well, pulling away without fuss on an 1-in-10 slope.
Our test took place in dry conditions, but the car's 4x4 system would be a benefit when pulling away in the wet.
In regular towing, you'd hardly notice that the car is four-wheel drive, except for the display on the instrument panel, which shows to which wheels the power is being directed.
Even in dry conditions on Tarmac, four-wheel drive helps make a brisk exit from junctions without spinning the wheels.
Once up to speed, the EcoSport shows acceptable stability. It can fidget a little when the wind picks up, but it's more a slight restlessness than a feeling of becoming unstable.
On arrival at your campsite, manoeuvring should be fine. There was no hot smell from the clutch after reversing onto a pitch. When it's time to hitch up again, the reversing camera makes life easy for the driver.
The swan-neck towball costs £400 and is detachable. There's plenty of clearance between the ball and the bumper. The easy-access 13-pin electrics fold down from under the bumper.
Recent revisions have improved the EcoSport's driver appeal. The steering is keen, and well controlled suspension keeps body roll within reasonable limits when cornering.
Our ST-Line model rides on sports suspension, and there is a trade-off for the control it offers. At lower speeds, the ride is on the firm side.
With a positive and precise feel, the six-speed gearbox is a pleasure to use, and helps to make the most of the engine's performance. Sixth gear is a little tall when towing (you need to change down to fifth quite often), but the ratio feels well chosen at 70mph in solo driving.
However, the wind noise is excessive and there's also clearly noticeable road noise if the surface is coarse.
The interior has some sporty touches, such as a metal-topped gearlever, metal pedals and red stitching on the seats and wheel.
This can't distract from the hard plastics on the lower dash and doors, but everything seems well screwed together.
There's lots of space in front - tall and short drivers should be able to find a sound position. Forward visibility is hampered by excessively thick front pillars.
Considering the EcoSport's size, rear leg and head room are reasonable - two adults should fit without much of a squeeze, although sitting three across the rear bench will be very tight.
The boot's 356-litre capacity looks reasonable, offering a fraction more than the Mazda CX-3's 350 litres. But it's a less practical space than the 520 litres of the Citroën C3 Aircross.
It's not so much the luggage volume that's the problem here, more the side-hinged tailgate. This fouls on the jockey wheel winder if you try to open it fully while hitched up.
The 1.5 EcoBlue 125PS AWD ST-Line is the range-topping version and comes well equipped. But £23,950 is quite stiff for a car of this size and performance. However, research by What Car? shows healthy discounts are available.
We're reasonably happy with the 27.9mpg return while towing and the 16E insurance grouping. However, resale values are predicted to be so-so at 38% after three years and 36,000 miles.
|Engine size||1499 cc|
|85% KW||1292 kg|
|Towball limit||75 kg|
|Maximum towing limit||1100 kg|
|Torque||221.0 lb ft|
|Official MPG||58.9 mpg|
|Towing MPG||27.9 mpg|
This is the best version of the EcoSport, but a diesel 4x4 of over 1.5 tonnes should be able to tow more than 1100kg.