What stands out?

The EcoSport is the smallest SUV in Ford’s Australian showroom. It received a much-needed facelift late in 2017 that brought fresh looks inside and out, an updated infotainment system with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, and a new six-speed automatic dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which works particularly well with the gutsy little 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine. The EcoSport is available in three trim levels; Ambiente, Trend and Titanium.

What might bug me?

Not being able to open the barn door-like side-opening tailgate if your EcoSport is backed up to a wall. A more practical upward opening tailgate will be added later in 2018, which will also mean no more ugly spare wheel on the back. The downside of that is you’ll have to make do with a tyre-inflation kit should you get a puncture, which only allows you to drive on that tyre temporarily.

Insisting you’re not a hoon after making the front wheels chirp when driving off in the EcoSport Trend or Titanium. Their gutsy three-cylinder turbo engine can send too much power to the front wheels if you’re not careful.

Worrying about the fact the EcoSport doesn’t have automatic emergency braking, even as an option. This is becoming a standard feature in more and more small-SUVs.

What body styles are there?

Five-door wagon only.

All EcoSports drive their front wheels only.

The EcoSport is classed as a small SUV, lower priced.

What features do all EcoSport versions have?

All EcoSports have a six-speed automatic transmission as standard. There are no manual versions of the EcoSport.

Cruise control, a reversing camera, and rear parking sensors.

A sound system with a CD player, AM/FM and digital (DAB+) radio, USB input, and at least six speakers. Bluetooth connectivity, which allows you to wirelessly connect a phone and play music from it.

Satellite navigation, displayed on a colour touchscreen with Ford’s excellent SYNC3 connectivity. SYNC3 allows voice control of the digital radio, and other audio and phone functions.

Support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which lets you display apps from compatible smartphones on the touchscreen and control them from there.

Steering wheel buttons for operating cruise control, the sound system and your phone.

Air-conditioning, and six-way adjustable driver’s seat including lumbar support.

Body-coloured spare wheel cover with full-sized matching spare wheel.

Electronic stability control, which can help control a skid. All new cars must have this feature.

Seven airbags. (For the placement of airbags, and more on Escape safety systems, please open the Safety section below.)

The EcoSport is covered by a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

The 1.0-litre, three-cylinder EcoBoost (turbocharged) petrol engine in the EcoSport Trend and Titanium is the most fuel efficient of the two engines in the EcoSport range and is also more powerful. It uses as little as 6.7 litres/100km on the official test (city and country combined).

One reason you might not choose it is that you want to pay less for an EcoSport. The cheapest EcoSport, the Ambiente, has a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine, which consumes 6.9 litres/100km according to official testing. It is only a little less powerful than the 1.0-litre EcoBoost, but is noisier in stop-start traffic and doesn’t feel as settled with the automatic gearbox.

Ford recommends that both petrol engines run on regular unleaded fuel.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

The least costly EcoSport, the Ambiente has the 1.5-litre petrol engine, rolls on 16-inch steel wheels, and has a 6.5-inch touchscreen, cloth seat trim and the equipment in all EcoSports.

Spending more on the EcoSport Trend FWD brings the superior 1.0-litre turbo powertrain, front fog lights, and roof rails for additional storage. .

The Trend has 16-inch wheels made from aluminium alloy, which look nicer than the steel wheels and don’t need plastic trim.

Satellite navigation is added to the infotainment system and viewed through a bigger 8.0-inch touchscreen, and the steering wheel is wrapped in leather.

The most expensive EcoSport, the Titanium, adds leather trim on all seats and some elegant chrome finishes on the outside.

There is a power-opened sunroof, automatic climate control air-conditioning, auto-dimming rear view mirror and rain-sensing windscreen wipers.

The side mirrors fold automatically when you lock the car and project a puddle lamp on to the ground when you return.

Extremely bright bi-xenon headlights adapt their beam shapes for the driving conditions and automatically turn on when it gets dark. They are complemented by LED daytime running lights.

The Titanium also gains additional safety features include blind sport monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert.

Wheels on the Titanium are bigger again at 17 inches, fitted with tyres of a significantly lower profile than those on the Ambiente and Trend – which quicken steering response slightly.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

Apart from extra cost, not really. The larger, lower profile tyres on the Titanium could cost more to replace, and reduce ride comfort slightly (because there is less cushioning air between the wheel and the road).

White is the only standard colour, with the other five costing around $550 extra.

How comfortable is the EcoSport?

The EcoSport’s interior has had a major makeover with more comfy seats that partly disguise the EcoSport’s budget-priced plastic trim a little better than before.

It’s roomier inside than it looks with plenty of front-seat space for the driver, with good adjustment behind the wheel. The leg room is also good for the front passenger, but the seat is too high, making the occupant feel like they’re sitting above everyone else.

There’s now a centre armrest in between the front two seats, with a flip-up lid that provides some welcome discreet storage space.

What about safety in the EcoSport?

The EcoSport lacks key-driver assistance features that are becoming standard in many of its small-SUV rivals; such as
autonomous emergency braking
, adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist.

It does come with a reversing camera and rear parking sensors as standard, along with mandatory anti-lock brakes, stability control, and seven airbags.

The airbags are in the usual places: one in front of each front seat occupant; one to protect the driver’s knees; side airbags outside each front seat to protect at chest level from side impacts; and curtain airbags that protect the heads of front and rear occupants from side impacts.

The EcoSport also has an Emergency Assist feature, which can automatically call emergency services after a crash, using a paired mobile phone. And every EcoSport gives you Ford’s My Key control system, which lets you set limits on the top speed and sound volume for someone you might lend the car to (a teenage son or daughter, for example).

The most expensive EcoSport, the Titanium, gains auto headlights and wipers, as well as blind spot warning, and rear-cross traffic alert, which warns if a vehicle or person is crossing or about to cross behind when you’re reversing.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the EcoSport five stars for safety in 2013. The Escape was scored at 36.3 points from a possible 37, which five years later still applies to the current model. If this were an all-new model, the lack of automatic emergency breaking would see it get four or three stars, as is the case with the Ford Mustang.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

The 1.0-litre EcoBoost in the EcoSport Trend and Titanium is the pick for drivability, but the experience behind the wheel isn’t as polished as the turbo engine, which is a shame given the polished ride you get from the Fiesta hatchback, on which EcoSport is based.

The steering is quite slow, and the ride is busy at speed over city roads where the EcoSport will likely spend most, if not all, of its life.

How is life in the rear seats?

The back seat has decent room for two passengers, though the short seatbacks and small, skinny headrests make life a bit less comfortable for taller passengers.

The middle rear is best occupied by the very low centre armrest that features a pair of cupholders.

How is it the EcoSport carrying stuff?

The boot holds 346-litres, which is about the average size cargo area for a small SUV.

The 60:40 rear seat folds down to provide up to 1178 litres of cargo space. You flip the seat base forward, and then recline the seatback forward to create a flat space.

The world’s shortest cargo blind – it extends maybe 40cm – hides the contents away from prying eyes. The lack of a vertical-lift tailgate means it can’t be replaced with a hatchback-like hard cover.

Where is the EcoSport made?

All Australian-market EcoSports are now made in India.

Are there any rivals I should consider?

The Mazda CX-3 has a lower starting price and is a much more advanced car, with a 2.0-litre engine with an idle-stop function, and automatic emergency braking. But it isn’t as roomy inside and has a much smaller cargo area.

Other rivals include the Mitsubishi ASX, Holden Trax, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, Nissan Qashqai and Peugeot 2008 will also have you covered.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

The EcoSport Trend is the sweet spot of the EcoSport range. It brings the more powerful and efficient 1.0-litre turbo engine, satellite navigation, alloy wheels and is quieter to ride in.

Are there plans to update this model soon?

The EcoSport first arrived in 2013 and the current model received a significant upgrade in late 2017, which gave Ford’s baby SUV a welcome facelift that brings it in line with Ford’s latest SUV designs. The interior was also refreshed and the infotainment updated to Ford’s excellent Sync3 system.

Performance wise, Ford revamped the engine range to an all-three-cylinder affair, with a 1.5-litre petrol joining the 1.0-litre turbo petrol. A six-speed automatic transmission was introduced as standard in all EcoSports, with the six-speed manual and troublesome Powershift dual-clutch transmission given the flick.

The side-opening tailgate with mounted spare wheel is expected to be replaced with more conventional hatch during the middle part of 2018. While it will be more practical and contemporary looking, it will mean the EcoSport will lose the spare tyre in favour of a tyre-repair kit.