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First drive: Ford Focus Active Estate. Image by Ford.

First drive: Ford Focus Active Estate
Not enamoured with Fordís range of SUVs? Good news: the Focus Active alternative is excellent.

 



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Ford Focus Active

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Ford takes its fourth-generation Focus and gives it the lifestyle treatment, creating the third model in the Active sub-brand, following on from the Fiesta Active and Ka+ Active. The good news is that the Focus Active is the apogee of this formula, providing a lovely cultured driving experience that skilfully deflects attention from the fact that Ford's current SUV range isn't anything to write home about.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Ford Focus Active X 2.0 EcoBlue TDCi Estate automatic
Pricing: Focus Active from £21,900; Active X 2.0 EcoBlue TDCi Estate auto £33,700 as tested
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmission: front-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic
Body style: five-door crossover estate
CO2 emissions: 119g/km* (VED Band 111-130: £165 first 12 months, then £140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: c.47.6mpg**
Top speed: 127mph
0-62mph: 9.3 seconds
Power: 150hp at 3,500rpm
Torque: 370Nm at 2,000rpm
Boot space: 575-1,620 litres
* figure quoted in WLTP
** figure quoted in average of best and worst returns from WLTP testing

What's this?

It's a lifestyle estate, a ruggedised version of a regular cargo-carrying family car, although to be fair to Ford, it will offer the Focus Active in both hatchback and wagon forms. The arrival of the Focus Active comes at a time when consumer appetite for anything SUV and crossover-ish is at an all-time high - and it's somewhat timely, because we reckon that none of Ford's array of 'proper' SUVs, in the form of the EcoSport, Kuga and Edge, is in a position to be challenging for class honours.

The Focus Active follows time-honoured tradition for one of these off-roader machines based on regular road-car fare, which is to say it sits 30mm higher than a regular Focus, features a wealth of lower-body protective styling (cladding round the wheel arches, skid plates fore and aft, different bumpers), has roof rails (these are found on the hatch as well as the estate) and gains Active-specific detailing inside and out - mostly badging and 'A' logos, but there's blue stitching in the cabin to keep the theme going. Two body colours are specific to the Active, which are Orange Glow and Metropolis White, and overall it's a cracking-looking thing, inside and out; especially in wagon form like our test car, because the Focus Estate is more handsome in the first place than the Focus hatch. We heartily approve.

Ford is positioning the Active as almost a trim grade, level with ST-Line and ST-Line X (and one step down from the Vignale flagship). To that end, there are two specs of the lifestyle Focus, which are Active and Active X. The latter adds items like a panoramic roof, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, all-round parking sensors, 18-inch wheels, heated front seats with part-leather upholstery, auto lights and wipers, and even more besides, to the Active's regular equipment bundle of 17-inch wheels, cruise control with a speed limiter, keyless start, satnav on an eight-inch colour touchscreen and privacy glass. Beyond this, and the aforementioned two body styles, Ford will offer four engines and two transmissions (a six-speed manual as standard and an eight-speed auto as an option), with the powerplants split as follows: for the EcoBoost petrol engines, there's a 125hp three-cylinder 1.0-litre entry point and then a 150hp four-cylinder 1.5 above that; and a pair of four-cylinder EcoBlue TDCi diesels counterbalance the range, these being a 1.5 with 120hp and a 2.0-litre with 150hp.

Thus, as our test car was an estate, 2.0-litre diesel, automatic, an Active X and finished in the special Metropolis White paint, it's about as expensive as expensive can be for a Ford Focus Active at £33,700 - although the Active family begins at a much more reasonable £21,900. In terms of rivals, it's solely VW Group fare in this C-segment class. All of the SEAT Leon X-Perience, Skoda Octavia Scout and Volkswagen Golf Alltrack sit in the Focus' class, although all three of these are available as estates only, which makes the Focus Active hatchback look even more intriguing.

How does it drive?

Beautifully well, with that fluid, supple grace that all the best Focus models of the past have displayed. Only, the Active is even nicer to ride in, because its long-travel, soft suspension makes it oh-so-elegant at soaking up lumpen road surfaces as if they simply didn't exist. Mechanical isolation of the muscular 2.0-litre diesel drivetrain is deeply impressive, too, while the Active's taller stance and body addenda don't seem to do anything detrimental to how much wind noise is allowed to permeate the passenger cabin. You don't even lose any boot space, the wagon managing to cram at least 575 litres of clobber into its cargo bay - and that's before you've strapped a Thule roof box to the rails up top, because you're properly lifestyle, right?

The handling is good as well, with the same talented chassis that underpins the lower Focuses (Foci?) in the range managing to keep its composure during fast cornering, despite the Active's off-road bent. With lovely, informative steering and more than decent performance served up by the EcoBlue engine and the excellent eight-speed automatic, getting the Focus Active into a steady, flowing groove on a challenging B-road is both easy and rewarding in equal measure.

However, there's no all-wheel-drive traction benefits to talk of here. Doesn't matter how lantern-jawed any model of Focus Active might look, Ford is not planning to sell any variant with AWD, meaning these are front-driven machines only. So precisely how capable they're going to be off-road will be determined purely by their 30mm elevation, which will at least let the Actives clear more obstacles than your standard Titanium estate, say. To compensate for the lack of drive to the rear, Ford adds two modes to the Selectable Drive programme, which are Slippery and Trail - both of which soften off throttle response and fiddle with the intervention of the TCS/ESC/ABS systems accordingly. But if you're looking to buy the Active as a tow car or something that can genuinely plug some mud, you might want to look elsewhere...

Verdict

While a £33,700 Focus is hardly what you'd call cheap, the Focus Active X becomes our favourite model of Ford's fourth-gen family car so far... and also the best thing the company makes for fans of crossovers and SUVs. Forget the Kuga and the Edge, as the Focus Active in its most impressive guise like this is a supremely gifted all-rounder. And possibly the class-leader when it comes to off-road, C-segment estates, to boot.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Passenger Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 19 Feb 2019









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2019 Ford Focus Active Estate. Image by Ford.2019 Ford Focus Active Estate. Image by Ford.2019 Ford Focus Active Estate. Image by Ford.2019 Ford Focus Active Estate. Image by Ford.2019 Ford Focus Active Estate. Image by Ford.

2019 Ford Focus Active Estate. Image by Ford.2019 Ford Focus Active Estate. Image by Ford.2019 Ford Focus Active Estate. Image by Ford.2019 Ford Focus Active Estate. Image by Ford.2019 Ford Focus Active Estate. Image by Ford.








 

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