Updated EcoSport sets course for America
Ford was one of the first to get on board the compact four-wheel bandwagon, but its first attempt at the EcoSport wasn't particularly successful. It wasn't much of a looker on the outside and felt cheap on the inside, especially compared to excellent cars like the Mazda CX-3. Finally, Ford has given the EcoSport a refresh, bringing it up to scratch with a handsome face and modern interior.
Whereas the original EcoSport wasn't sold in America, the updated model will make it stateside. That has influenced a number of changes, chief among which is the way the exterior looks. Gone are the slim headlamps and odd, multi-layered grille, and in their place is a more conventional front end in line with the new Escape. It still can't match the CX-3 or Honda HR-V for good looks, but it's certainly a start.
It's a similar story on the inside. The button-heavy center console, which was inspired by mobile phones of the time when it launched back in 2010, has been replaced with a more attractive touchscreen running Sync 3 software. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are both included in the package, and high-end Titanium models come with a B&O sound system.
Although we'll reserve judgement for when we've had the chance to poke and prod all the materials, the new interior looks like a huge step up from the cheap, dark interior of the outgoing model.
It's not all plain sailing though. The boot is still accessed through a side-opening tailgate instead of a conventional hatchback. Although it might look cool, and make owners feel like they're driving a classic four-wheel drive for a while, it also poses a serious problem anytime you park too close to a wall, or someone pulls in right behind you. At least the vision-ruining spare-wheel has been given the boot this time...
Power comes from a choice of two engines, starting with the turbocharged three-cylinder EcoBoost from the Fiesta. It's hooked up to a six-speed automatic gearbox, and powers the front wheels, unlike the bigger four-cylinder option, which comes with four-wheel drive as standard.
The EcoSport will make its debut at the Los Angeles Motor Show, but sales won't start until early in 2018.