SUVs, as we know, offer much more than normal cars. To us, the mass consumer, they offer space, flexibility and the freedom to wear a large hat. To Ford, and other car manufacturers intent on churning out endless derivatives based on chassis' that took years to develop, they offer the chance to sell more cars without the massive outlay that a brand new, designed from the ground up, car entails.
SUV is an American term. It stands for Sports Utility Vehicle. It is the term that Americans have always used to describe 4x4s. A Land Rover is an SUV. A Nissan Patrol is an SUV. But the term has been taken by Europe and bastardised to include front wheel drive cars that have been jacked up a few inches.
So the Ford Ecosport is a Ford Fiesta that has been jacked up a few inches and, crucially, the body has been stretched so, even if the driver is 7 feet tall, he or she can wear a trilby in comfort. It joins the Kuga (a Focus chassis) and the Edge (based on a Mondeo).
The Kuga doesn't look too bad. It's shape contains at least some elements of design. The Edge, soon to be imported into Europe from America, is a better designed car than Ford's Ka - which is an amorphous blob of metal masquerading as a car/Ka.
But with the Ecosport, Ford's Brazilian design department (for that is where it is derived) seem to have suffered a collective breakdown. They were obviously asked to design a new, mini, SUV - based on the Fiesta - and just couldn't be bothered. It seems the office junior took the Fiesta and photoshopped it. He stretched the Fiesta's body vertically and added some plastic underneath and gave the resultant image to his manager who, no doubt, said, "Sim. Que vai fazer." ("Yeah. That'll do.")
And thus Ford of Brazil commissioned and produced one of the most hideous creations to ever set wheel on this earth. Which was fine because no-one outside Brazil would see it. But then some bright spark decided that Ford needed a 'One Ford' global strategy which, in essence, means that instead of wasting millions of dollars designing individual cars for each market they will sell nearly all of them nearly everywhere.
That means the Ecosport will shortly be sprung upon us. Pretty soon, quaint English market towns will be disfigured by the sight of dozens of Ford Ecosports prowling up and down the High Street looking for somewhere to park. Even the interior is hideous - a mass of plastic with a Cylon's head stuck in the middle and a cross-eyed dashboard staring gormlessly up at the driver.
The Ford Ecosport will hit Europe in 2013. It will be available with Ford's new three-cylinder 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol engine and a four-cylinder 1.5-litre diesel. Only two-wheel-drive versions have been confirmed. It will cost approximately £14,000.