28th January 2019
Hang on, what’s this that’s arrived on the driveway? It looks like a Fiesta but sits a whopping 18mm further from the ground, so it must be an SUV. Uhm, well, er, no. It’s a Fiesta Active in top of the line X trim, which is Ford’s answer to the likes of the SEAT Arona and Hyundai Kona. Basing a crossover on the Fiesta makes perfect sense – I’m just not convinced the world needs this particular one. So, let’s see what the week ahead holds.
First drive in the Active shows that it’s very much a Fiesta when it comes to ride, handling and response. The slightly retuned suspension has a bit more softness to it, which is supposed to help when negotiating rough tracks but works really well on the B-roads and city streets that made up my journey into Stirling today. That’s a big tick for the Active, but nothing the standard Fiesta doesn’t achieve already.
There’s a choice of driving modes in the Active, but none are specifically for driving off-road and that tells me this car is very much more about attitude than ability. Still, there’s a winter setting that allows a little more wheel slip to get you going on icy roads when ESP can be a hindrance. Of course, you could always just disable the traction control using the button right next to the Selectable Drive Modes one…
In these wintry days, the presence of a heated windscreen and seats as standard on this X model are very welcome. As with other Fords, the heated screen has the frost melted and gone in less than a minute of starting the car, while the warmed pews are very quickly emitting a toasty glow where it’s needed. As for the rest of the driving environment, it’s identical to a Fiesta hatch’s so is spacious and practical for the kids.
A trip out into the wilds of Perthshire today to visit Classic Restorations in Alyth. The Ford copes easily with the A9 dual carriageway and slippery back roads to get there and its SYNC3 sat-nav never put a foot wrong in guiding me there. Once inside, the quality of the workmanship and craft that’s evident in every corner of the building leave my jaw on the floor. It makes you realise we’re very lucky to have these skills still alive and in practice.
With Christmas gone, it’s back to the rounds of birthday parties and that means sorting presents for my kids’ friends. Who’d have thought you could fit a whole house into the boot of a Fiesta Active? More importantly, Ford is one of the rare exceptions that makes it easy to switch off its lane departure warning system with a prolonged press of the button on the end of the left-hand column stalk.
A week with the Active X has left me oddly unmoved by this car. Everything that’s good about it is are the same strengths as the Fiesta’s it’s based on. There’s little wrong with the Active, but the price is steeper and doesn’t offer much other than exterior plastic cladding. Oh, and the gear shift in this car was not as precise as I’m used to in Fords with the perky 140hp 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine. Stick some winter tyres on a standard Fiesta and you’ve got the best of all worlds.