Ford EcoSport Compact Crossover: Forbidden Fruit First Drive Page 2

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Ford EcoSport subcompact crossover first drive review

Ford EcoSport subcompact crossover first drive review

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Engines and economy

In Europe, the EcoSport will get three power units.

The base engine is a new 1.5-liter Duratec gasoline engine, available with a five-speed manual transmission or six-speed auto. This was unavailable to test.

Next up is the familiar 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder from the Fiesta--direct injected and turbocharged, it develops just under 125 horsepower and on the European cycle, manages around 44 mpg. You can take 15-20 percent off that for an equivalent EPA figure--though the Fiesta is expected to get around 45 mpg highway.

During our drive though, its real-world economy was even lower--barely bettering an indicated 30 mpg.

That's not just the usual journalist lead-foot factor, but an issue familiar to the latest generation of tiny turbocharged gasoline engines. To achieve good real-world economy, you really have to be incredibly careful--and frankly, drive at velocities unrealistic to modern traffic.

As ever, the engine itself is pleasant to use: very smooth for a three-cylinder, admirably quiet and uniquely thrummy at higher revs. It's also responsive and torquey enough at low engine speeds, though has little more to give when you extend the engine.

Officially, it'll do 0-62 mph in 12.7 seconds and 112 mph. Ford also provides a 31-62 mph acceleration figure of 12.8 seconds in 4th gear--not spectacular, and illustrative of the 500-pound weight penalty and poorer aerodynamics the EcoSport carries over the equivalent Fiesta.

At 3,050 lbs the 1.5-liter Duratorq diesel model is heavier by another 80 lbs, and also develops just 90 horsepower.

This really does feel sluggish out on the road. 0-62 mph arrives in 14 whole seconds and it's a little slower over the 31-62 range too. Arguably it feels even worse out on the road, with none of the turbocharged shove you get in similarly-sized diesel rivals from low revs.

Acceleration is instead accompanied by plenty of noise--an unpleasant, old-school diesely racket at that--and vibration through the controls. It's a truly unpleasant engine to use and a long way off the units offered by competitors, but does eventually settle down at a constant cruise.

Combined economy of 50.7 mpg on the European cycle is little to write home about either when similarly-priced rivals are 15-20 percent better.

The indicated 35 mpg we achieved on the test route is indicative of the engine's unwillingness to gather speed and the surprisingly short gearing of the 5-speed manual--the engine turns at around 3,000 rpm at 70 mph.

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