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First drive: Ford Fiesta Active. Image by Ford.

First drive: Ford Fiesta Active
Ford adds a jacked-up crossover version of the Fiesta to the family.


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Ford Fiesta Active

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Ford's new Active range of crossovers will eventually swell to incorporate rugged examples of both the Ka+ and the forthcoming Mk4 Focus, but first out of the lifestyle blocks for the Blue Oval is the Fiesta Active. It's the fourth model line in the supermini's family, after the regular hatch, the pricey Vignale and the stonking new ST - so does the Active do enough to allow us to recommend it to you, over and above any other variant of Fiesta?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Ford Fiesta Active X 140 EcoBoost
Pricing: Active from 17,795; Active X as tested from 20,295
Engine: 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol
Transmission: front-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body style: five-door crossover hatchback
CO2 emissions: 119g/km (VED 165 first 12 months, then 140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 54.3mpg
Top speed: 124mph
0-62mph: 9.4 seconds
Power: 140hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 180Nm at 1,500-5,000rpm

What's this?

We quite like the look of this. In fact, from the press shots we've seen of all the Active Ford models, we think the company has got the styling of these crossovers spot on. The Fiesta wears its rough-and-tumble addenda with graceful ease: the black lower-body cladding, the faux skid plates, the silver roof rails, that dark panel for the rear number plate recess, a set of machined 17-inch bespoke-design alloys and the test models' striking Lux Yellow paint all help to give it plenty of kerb appeal. Same score for the inside, where bright bits of trim, some 'A'-branded amber-and-grey cloth sports seats and leather trim for the three most-touched controls (steering wheel, gear lever, handbrake) all go into making the Fiesta's already-plush cabin feel that little bit plusher. Aesthetically, the Active really works.

Mechanically, not much has changed, with the ride height increased by 18mm and the longer-travel suspension made a little softer to allow for any mild off-road excursions owners might be planning with their Fiesta Actives - specifically, the front dampers have an extra hydraulic rebound stopper to smooth out larger jolts to the chassis. Ford offers just two engines in terms of swept capacity - a 1.0-litre EcoBoost three-cylinder petrol and a 1.5-litre TDCi four-cylinder diesel - but manages to screw out six different horsepower figures from the pair of them to create a wide spread of models. The EcoBoost comes with 85-, 100-, 125- or 140hp, while the TDCi also starts at 85hp, but then jumps straight up to 120hp. There's no four-wheel drive nor hill descent control trickery with the Actives, so all cars are front-wheel drive and most blessed with a slick, chunky-of-throw six-speed manual; although there is a six-speed auto option with paddle shifts on the 100hp EcoBoost only. And every model has to have five doors, as the three-door bodyshell is not available in Active guise.

Ford's going to sell its Fiesta Actives in three trim grades, which are called Active 1, Active B&O Play and Active X, in ascending order. Various items like adaptive cruise, climate control, heated seats and steering wheel, SYNC 3 with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, plus a wealth of driver assist safety systems form part of this range, with the Active 1 kicking off at 17,795 for an 85hp 1.0, Active B&O Play from 19,195 for the 1.0 100hp and Active X a robust 20,295 (Vignale money) for the same 100hp triple. The 85hp diesel is available at Active 1 level only and is a smidge in excess of 19,000, but the 120hp TDCi starts from 20,985 for a B&O Play. Oof.

How does it drive?

How you'd probably expect a slightly taller, slightly softer version of the slightly gentrified Mk7 Fiesta to: it's not quite as good in the corners, but it is even smoother to waft around in. That makes it, for our money, probably the best comfort-oriented model in the Fiesta family, its expense notwithstanding, because we think it looks nicer than the overblown chintz of the Vignale.

We've already lamented how the regular Fiesta hatch has lost its ultimate dynamic edge in favour of a much-improved cabin and exceptional refinement, making it more like a Volkswagen Polo than a SEAT Ibiza, so accepting that the outright handling verve has gone means the Active makes even more sense. However, it is by no means poor in the cornering stakes; there's a touch more lean and less of a sure-footed feeling of grip once the suspension is loaded up, but for all our grousing the Fiesta still has an in-the-main superb chassis and the Active treatment hasn't ruined that.

Nevertheless, this car's forte is its classy demeanour. It's hushed at all speeds, the little 140hp triple is a willing, velvet-smooth and quiet performer (with a lovely, throaty gargle evident at higher revs) and the ride quality, on asphalt, is magnificent. The Active lopes along gracefully on motorways, negotiates city driving in a dignified manner and manages to make itself feel thoroughly charming. The calibration of its gearbox, brakes and steering is all just so, and overall it does feel different to drive when compared to the 18mm-lower siblings in its family ranks.

Ford didn't lay on any off-roading for us to test how good the Fiesta Active was away from metalled surfaces... so we found a rubbly little track of our own, just to get a very brief idea of the crossover's capabilities (or otherwise) when it starts travelling into the scenery. And the report card here is: does everything you could possibly need it to. Don't expect it to go scaling great rocks and wading through deep water, but do be pleasantly surprised when it takes on tracks with notably deep ruts in it without grounding out.


A useful addition to the Fiesta canon, the Active has the best ride of any current-generation version of the supermini, it handles reasonably well and it looks pretty good too. It's a bit expensive as a diesel model, which we also sampled (short verdict: absolutely fine and similarly urbane, but the EcoBoost is the sweeter motor), and the 140hp petrol isn't cheap either, but if you want a striking city car that looks like it could handle itself in the rough stuff, there's currently nothing better than the Ford Fiesta Active. It would appear this new crossover breed in the Ford fold is going to be worth monitoring as it expands in the coming months, then.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain

Matt Robinson - 15 May 2018    - Ford road tests
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2018 Ford Fiesta Active. Image by Ford.2018 Ford Fiesta Active. Image by Ford.2018 Ford Fiesta Active. Image by Ford.2018 Ford Fiesta Active. Image by Ford.2018 Ford Fiesta Active. Image by Ford.

2018 Ford Fiesta Active. Image by Ford.2018 Ford Fiesta Active. Image by Ford.2018 Ford Fiesta Active. Image by Ford.2018 Ford Fiesta Active. Image by Ford.2018 Ford Fiesta Active. Image by Ford.


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