First Drive: Ford Fiesta Active

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Active trim adds SUV looks to the Fiesta line-up, finds Jonathan Musk…

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SECTOR Supermini   PRICE €17,950-€21,450   FUEL 4.2-5l/100km   CO2 108-138

With a raised ride height, ‘rugged body styling’ and designed for muddy boots and soggy passengers, Active is Ford’s latest trim level to adorn the Fiesta, Ka+ and Focus with all-important fashionista SUV styling.

The Fiesta Active is, therefore, Ford’s first ever Fiesta SUV; benefiting from a handful of nifty modifications to the standard Fiesta.

The main and most obvious change is the styling, which receives mud-friendly wheel arch trims and roof bars as standard plus a variety of colour options and customisations. Aside from this, the car is decidedly standard inside, so don’t expect any additional boot space or clever storage options.

However, the Active is no mere suspension jacking-up job either, with a new hydraulic rebound stopper and unique knuckle geometry. And, to offset the 18mm taller ride height aesthetic, 17-inch alloys are standard across the Active range, although these do add to the road noise a little.

Engine options include 85, 100, 125 and 140hp outputs from the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine or 85 and 120hp versions of the 1.5-litre diesel. Each is equipped with a six-speed manual or an auto box is available on the 100hp petrol or 85hp diesel. The majority sold will likely be the 100hp EcoBoost, while the diesel remains the best option for ultra-high milers – offering 4.2l/100km from the 85bhp variant and just 108g/km CO2. Go for the 125bhp EcoBoost and there’s bags of power without a CO2 penalty, with it emitting the same 113g/km as the 100hp petrol. Figures across the board are slightly worse than the regular, lower, Fiesta.

Ford’s other notable modification is a ‘slippery’ driving mode. This fiddles with the stability and traction control to provide more grip, for example when pulling away on mud, gravel, snow and likewise when cornering.

Three Active trims start from €17,950 for the ‘Active’, which is also predicted to be the best seller. ‘Active Colourline’ adds some fancy yellow highlights to the interior, Ford’s SYNC 3 system and a decent sound system, while ‘Active Plus’ tops the range and adds partial leather seating and other premium equipment.

Out on the road, it drives much like a Fiesta, so it’s a very capable thing, but with modified suspension the ride is more refined and less jittery than the standard Fiesta. Conversely, cornering isn’t quite as assured, but it’s certainly no worse for it in everyday driving. Hooning around a track is not this car’s natural environment, yet chucking it about a go-kart venue demonstrated impressive body control. The EcoBoost range is versatile and rewarding to drive, with plenty of power available at most speeds, though the 85hp petrol and diesel feel a touch underpowered. Small seats hold passengers well, but could be criticised as being too small and may prove uncomfortable for plus-sized individuals.

The verdict
With SUV looks and the Fiesta’s proven qualities, the Active range adds to an already excellent car. There’s nothing to dislike, but pricing may prove a tall order for what are largely cosmetic changes.

Key fleet model
Fiesta Active 125hp 1.0-litre EcoBoost.

Strengths
Strong engine options, good ride quality.

Weaknesses
A cosmetic SUV, no true off-road credentials.

IFW Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jonathan Musk

Jonathan turned to motoring journalism in 2013 having founded, edited and produced Autovolt - one of the UK's leading electric car publications. He has also written and produced books on both Ferrari and Hispano-Suiza, while working as an international graphic designer for the past 15 years. As the automotive industry moves towards electrification, Jonathan brings a near-unrivalled knowledge of EVs and hybrids to Fleet World Group.