In most parts of the world, The Ford Escape/Kuga is sold as as a medium/large crossover, and sometimes not even sold at all in some markets. This is where the Escape's little brother comes in, the EcoSport.
(Full Disclosure: Ford wanted me to drive the EcoSport so badly, they convinced my aunt to buy a second-hand 2008 model 3 years ago, and due to a series of recent events, I had to quit my job, and visit my family in Brazil to drive it and as well as a few other cars.)
The EcoSport is based on the Ford Fiesta, very much like the Escape was originally based on a Mazda Millenia/626 platform. The Escape is not sold in Brazil, but the Ecosport filled the role nicely over the years.
The design is very similar to the Escape. It's like a younger sibling living in a different country. Brazilian cars appear to have the option to have off-road capable vehicles out of their road going versions, that's where this car fits in.
This car goes to farms often, and is almost never clean. Dirt is caked on every external surface.
Interior is average, cloth seats are of high quality, interior plastics are livable, but not excellent.
We were able to cram 5 people in the back, go figure. It was quite a bit more roomy than the '96 Fiesta I drove in Portugal.
Well... It's not absurdly slow, but it is not even close to being fast either. 0-100 KM/H is roughly 15 seconds, or a trip to the end of the block and back. So yeah, slow.
It'll stop quicker than it can accelerate, so that's good. Nothing to write home about either. The pads do squeak quite a bit when wet.
Average, but not impressive. It is a box on wheels after all. It has McPherson struts up front, and a semi independent trailing arm at the back, typical for a budget vehicle. It's also not 4x4.
The clutch travel is short, and also very sensitive as a result. Took me a few tries to get it going without stalling. The shifter has a long throw, it isn't a sportscar, it still works.
Fairly bumpy. The selling point of this vehicle is the ground clearance, which allows it to drive off road better than other cars. since it looks a lot like an SUV, it feels like it'll tip over trying to corner.
Unlike the 200 or so HP the 3.0 Duratec in the first and second generation Escape puts out, this 1.6 litre Zetec-Rocam puts out roughly half that, and where it lacks in torque compared to other vehicles I've driven, it makes up for in revvyness. It will make more power with ethanol, but economy will take a hit with a 5% gain.
It also hates hills.
Exhaust is normal sounding for a 4 cylinder, nothing special about it.
Stereo is nothing special either, it does the job though.
It has a 12V outlet of easy access, does that count? There's also a 12V flashlight with a long cord equipped too. Helped in my shots in the dark, so it's got that going for it.
You get an off-road capable compact crossover for the price of a small car, and in Brazil, that is a bargain, my friends.
Final Score: 60
Engine: 1.6 Zetec-Roccam
Power: Gasoline/Petrol: 100 HP @5500 RPM Ethanol: 105 HP @ 4725 RPM
Torque: Gasoline/Petrol: 105 lb/ft @ 4725 RPM Ethanol: 111 lb/ft@ 4725 RPM