If the exterior of the car leaves you with a mixed impression, so does the interior. From the onset, it must be said that the car is perfectly adequate for what the car is, the segment it aims for and the price point. It has most, if not all, of the main features you would expect, and some nice extras. It has just about enough space (see below), and does most things you would want it to.
The car has quite a number of small storage areas (for example we counted at least 5 cup holder spaces, not including spaces in the front door pockets), a very welcome elbow rest for the driver’s left arm, a storage box under the passenger seat (supposedly for valuable electronics), and the glove compartment with a very interesting drinks cooler system which will keep your cans of energy drink nice and cool. Furthermore, the seats offer good support and feel solid and reassuring. And, so does the steering wheel, which is feels natural to hold from the start and gives very nice tactile feedback. Happily, this nice tactile feedback is also a feature of the gear lever, in the manual version we tested, and the handbrake which is very easy to operate. In short, everything to do with the mechanics of the car and the direct driving experience feels of good quality.
But then things start to go a bit wrong. While all the parts essential to driving seem really well put together, the rest doesn’t. And that very immediate contrast can come as quite a shock. The plastic used on the dashboard and around the cabin feels flimsy and cheap. In places, you even get the impression that it is creaking when pushed.
The buttons around the central console feel equally flimsy. And the design of the central console itself is quite contradictory. On the one hand, the view that the driver gets just in front of them is simple, elegant and highly functional: the steering wheel with just one set of buttons for controlling the car’s trip computer, a revs dial, a speedometer, and two control sticks for the usual signalling and windscreen wiper facilities – all these features are where they should be.
But as soon as the eyes turn towards the central console, one is met by a big, intimidating cluster of buttons, all slapped straight in the middle of the cabin. And what’s worse, most of these buttons could easily have been disposed of with very little effect on functionality. On top of the sea of buttons lies a functional, but small, non-colour, non-touch screen through which you can control most of the car’s digital features. Here again, the EcoSport just feels two years old, in contrast with the more recent design trends towards cleaner central consoles dominated by large, colour touch screens, which you do get in the above-mentioned Renault Captur.
And lastly, the trims: unless you plan to really mistreat your car by regularly transporting messy small children or pets with it, you really, really want the Titanium X trims with Torino Leather seats in Charcoal Black. The standard Titanium trims with Patna and Vigo give the same kind of tactile feedback as the flimsy plastic around the cabin and will constantly remind you that you have chosen the cheap option.