Ford Focus Active Estate Review
Ford’s all-new Focus has evolved. It is sleeker to look at, more efficient in its use of space and it is packed with easy-to-use technology. Newly added to the range is the Active, a slightly taller variant that Ford is calling a crossover.
This idea isn’t new of course: other manufacturers such as VW, Audi, Škoda and Volvo have been at it for a while by creating slightly ruggedised versions of existing models. They each have a lifestyle name and add slightly differing characteristics to the standard versions.
Ford has been a little late to the party, but the Focus Active is an accomplished-looking motor. And these crossover variants can make good sense too, adding just that little extra in the way of practicality.
The Active is bolder than a regular Focus, sitting 30mm higher due to additional spring height. Relatively deep profile tyres (by today’s standards) help with the chunkier look too. And to complete the image, there are SUV-style black plastic wheel arch covers plus scuff plates front and rear.
The estate body on our test model adds a significant 315mm to the overall length of a five-door and this works well with the softer forms and rising window line toward the rear.
The latest generation Focus has a few other key visual changes over the last model with a lower front end and more slender-looking grille. At the rear, the broader lights are more integral to the overall form and ‘Focus’ is displayed in widely-spaced letters across the boot.
Where Ford has really upped its game is inside. The dashboard is lower and further forward, giving greater interior space and providing a more open feel.
The Active is a little more random than the standard models when it comes to the numerous textures and materials around the cabin. There’s everything from fabric and plastic seat sections to various plastics and pseudo carbon fibre inserts across the facia.
But the overall design works well. There are 50 per cent fewer buttons on the facia than the last model, so it appears less cluttered. The infotainment screen is straightforward to use and instrumentation is clear with the signature pale blue needles.
On the road
As you might expect, the Active has quite a different feel on the road to a regular Focus. The inherent good manners of the Focus shine through but the additional height and taller tyres make it a little bouncier on A-roads and it doesn’t settle quite as well at motorway speeds. If you live somewhere off the beaten track, though, it could be just the thing. The suppleness, increased height and larger radius tyres mean rougher potholed lanes can be tackled with a more cavalier attitude. It’s pretty good with speed bumps too.
As well as sport and eco settings, it also has a couple of extra terrain modes including one for wet/slippery roads which we tried after some flash floods; it certainly tempered the power delivery well.
Controls are all precise and well-weighted - although the brakes are on the keen side; overall we found it a pleasure to rack up the miles in.
You can choose from five-door or estate with the Active models; there’s Active X too, which has just about every conceivable option fitted. Importantly, all Focus models are fitted with good safety equipment including Pre-Collision Assist with Autonomous Emergency Braking and pedestrian/cyclist detection.
Under the bonnet, you’ll find 1.0 EcoBoost (125PS), 1.5 EcoBoost (150PS) petrol or 1.5 (120PS) diesel. Each is available with manual or automatic gearbox. All are competent and refined engines with the smaller petrol offering impressive performance despite its small displacement.
The Focus has one of the most varied customer bases, with high volumes split across private, fleet and Motability users and the Active models add further appeal. For those seeking a more commanding view forward, the elevation doesn’t make a huge difference. But as a comfortable all-rounder, it works rather well.
About the Author
Andrew is a freelance motoring journalist with a background in IT and the vehicle leasing industry. With a lifetime’s passion for all things automotive, he can be found behind the wheel of everything from vans to supercars. In addition to reviewing the latest vehicles and technology, Andrew also runs a couple of classic British motors. He lives at the edge of the Peak District with his son and cat.
Andrew Wright @theMotorWriter