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First drive: 2022 Ford Focus Active. Image by Ford.

First drive: 2022 Ford Focus Active
We’ve tested the new-look Ford Focus in its rugged, SUV-inspired Active form.

   



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2022 Ford Focus Active

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There's a new Ford Focus in town, and that's big news. The Focus is one of the UK's most popular family cars, but it has a plethora of rivals and now Ford has given it a little nip-and-tuck surgery and some fresh technology. As updates go, it's hardly groundbreaking, but is it enough to keep the Focus up there with the best in its class? We tried the high-riding Active version to see what's what.

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2022 Ford Focus Active Vignale 1.0 EcoBoost 155 mHEV
Price: £32,510 as tested
Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol mild-hybrid
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power: 155hp
Torque: 190Nm
Emissions: 118g/km
Economy: 54.3mpg
0-62mph: 9.0 seconds
Top speed: 131mph
Boot space: 375 litres

Styling

Like the Fiesta, the Focus has been updated with a relatively light touch. Ford has fitted a new grille with the classic Blue Oval floating in the centre, while new bumpers and new lights have also been added. The overall look is more modern than before, and although we aren't sure about the new grille, it's generally a good-looking car. This Active model comes with rugged body cladding and raised ride height, which gives it the impression of off-road capability, even if the mechanical components don't necessarily back it up.

Interior

Ford has made greater improvements to the interior, where all but the basic Trend model are now fitted with a bigger touchscreen that runs Ford's latest technology. The old Sync3 system still found in the entry-level Trend model was already a massive improvement on its predecessor, but the new Sync4 technology is yet another step forward. Clear and easy to use, it's among the best systems fitted to any mainstream models on sale at present.
High-end versions supplement that with a digital instrument display, which is sharp, distinctive and easy to navigate, even if it isn't as clever as the systems found in competitor models from Volkswagen and Audi.
While the Focus has long been the yardstick for driver involvement in the family hatchback class, it has not been the yardstick for interior quality. The latest model is a mixed bag when it comes to cabin materials, with some low-rent plastics in some surprisingly prominent places, while the more luxurious materials occupy some slightly less common touchpoints. Nevertheless, all the switchgear feels neatly engineered and everything fits together solidly, which gives it a feeling of durability.

Practicality

Practicality has traditionally been one of the Focus' shortcomings, but Ford has fixed that in recent years. The current model is hardly a class leader when it comes to boot space, but a 375-litre load bay is competitive for the class. The Golf's boot is larger on paper, but only by six litres. That's a negligible difference. Where the Focus scores more highly is in the rear seats, where there's space for adults to sit in relative comfort, making it one of the most spacious hatchback cabins on the market.

Performance

Although Ford has tweaked the Focus' exterior styling and internal technology, the Blue Oval has done little under the bonnet. The engine range remains more or less identical, mainly comprising differing versions of the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine and a 1.5-litre diesel. The latter is the least powerful option in the range, with 120hp on tap, but it's also the most economical. It'll return up to 67.3mpg on the official economy test.

But while the diesels are clearly more efficient than their petrol-powered counterparts, the difference isn't that great. The 1.0-litre EcoBoost 155 mild-hybrid we tested manages up to 54.3mpg on the official test, and every petrol-powered option from the 125hp base model to the 155hp mild-hybrid will top 50mpg, so only those who do lots of long journeys will benefit from the diesel. Only the 2.3-litre ST model with 280hp will, predictably, burn more.

It's also worth noting that the PowerShift automatic gearboxes, available across the range, tend to increase the fuel consumption of whichever engine they're paired with.

Ride & Handling

The Focus has always been the family hatchback of choice for those who enjoy driving, and though that isn't necessarily best demonstrated by the Active model we tested, the Focus remains a driver's dream. Light controls, bags of grip and a really responsive front end make it great fun on a fast back road. Admittedly, the Active model rolls a bit thanks to its raised suspension, but it still drives well and we'd expect less lofty versions to feel more planted.

We also expect them to be more comfortable, because the Active's jacked-up suspension leaves it feeling a little choppy and unsettled at times. It isn't disastrously uncomfortable, but it doesn't have the suppleness of a Skoda Octavia or a Volkswagen Golf.

Value

Focus prices start at £23,500, which pays for the entry-level Trend model. That doesn't sound too bad for a car with satellite navigation, cruise control and parking sensors at the front and rear, not to mention a heated windscreen. But those who opt for the base model will have to make do with the old touchscreen and manual air conditioning, as well as 16-inch steel wheels.

Above Trend trim, the range branches into three, with rugged Active models joined by the Titanium and ST-Line variants. All three are available in base form, with alloy wheels and the updated touchscreen, but Vignale versions add smart upholstery, a digital instrument display and bigger alloy wheels. Finally, the range is crowned by the high-performance ST model, although that deserves its own review at a later date.

Verdict

The Ford Focus remains one of the best family cars out there – especially for those who enjoy driving. The updates have straightened out one or two chinks in the car’s armour, but the driver appeal remains the Focus’ key selling point. Which rather makes this Active version feel a little pointless. Without all-wheel drive or any mechanical off-road features, it feels a slightly fake and underwhelming. For those who want an SUV, the Puma and Kuga models offer more than enough capability, while those who want a hatchback should stick with the less rugged versions of the Focus.



James Fossdyke - 3 Aug 2022



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2022 Ford Focus Active. Image by Ford.2022 Ford Focus Active. Image by Ford.2022 Ford Focus Active. Image by Ford.2022 Ford Focus Active. Image by Ford.2022 Ford Focus Active. Image by Ford.

2022 Ford Focus Active. Image by Ford.2022 Ford Focus Active. Image by Ford.2022 Ford Focus Active. Image by Ford.2022 Ford Focus Active. Image by Ford.







 

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