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First Drive

First Drive: Ford Focus Active

The story:
Ford has expanded its Active offering of raised ride height faux-SUV hatchbacks to the new Focus, joining the Fiesta and Ka+ models launched last summer.
Category:Lower Medium
Key rival:VW Golf Alltrack
Ford Focus Active 1.5 Ecoblue
On sale:Now

With the move to SUVs and crossovers so prevalent at the moment, Ford is attempting something a little different by offering its regular hatchbacks with SUV character, a little bit of extra ground clearance and some off-road styling.

This move towards such ‘lifestyle’ models started with the KA+ and Fiesta last summer, but the Active concept was originally devised around the new Focus, so it’s appropriate that the Focus Active has now arrived to join the range.

First Drive-March 2019-Ford Focus Active- Image 5The new model is available in five-door hatchback and estate forms, with two petrol and two diesel engines. Active and Active X models are expected to account for around 10% of Focus sales, which roughly mirrors the performance of the Fiesta Active.

The two things that set the Focus Active apart from other faux-4x4s such as the VW Golf Alltrack are that the Focus is available as a hatchback (rivals are estates only), and that the Active is front-wheel drive rather than 4×4, although it has a selectable drive mode with settings for slippery roads and trails.

Other stand-out features include 17-inch alloy wheels with higher-profile and more durable tyres, a 30mm increase in ride height, bespoke front and rear bumpers and skid plates, black roof rails and various specific styling features.

First Drive-March 2019-Ford Focus Active- Image 4The Active fits into Ford’s plan to offer various Focus alternatives depending on the user’s lifestyle, with it being priced at the same level as the sportier ST-Line and more equipment-focused Titanium trims.

The two lower engines will be the ones to choose from, with company drivers likely to favour the 120hp 1.5 EcoBlue diesel over the 1.0-litre 125hp petrol. The diesel is excellent, with decent poke and almost petrol-like refinement. The Active drives like a regular Focus, which puts it up at the top of the class, with little impact of raising it by 30mm in terms of handling prowess.

With the model expected to hold the best residual values in the Focus range, and the little styling upgrades giving the car a more butch and distinctive appearance, the Active could be a clever move from Ford.




Paul Barker

The verdict

A hint of crossover style with the better driving dynamics, cost and emissions of a hatch, the Focus makes a good degree of sense in the current SUV-centric marketplace.