THE Focus Active is a difficult car to categorize.

It’s not a Focus hatchback - the suspension is a bit higher and the styling is subtly different - but it’s not strictly a crossover in the traditional sense.

It lacks the seriously raised ride height, the commanding driving position and the lashings of plastic cladding we’ve come to associate with those kind of vehicles. So exactly what is it?

It’s an alternative to the most accomplished car in the Ford range, albeit building on the same platform and using much of the same mechanicals.

In fact, the Active badge is in danger of becoming something of a sub-brand in its own right.

Yeovil Express:

As well as the Focus Active there’s a Fiesta Active and there was even a KA+ Active.

The recipe is the same: modest body kit, toughened up bumpers front and back, roof rails and a raised ride height courtesy of different suspension and taller tyres.

Granted it lacks the macho appeal of a Ford Kuga but that crossover never drove as well as a Focus.

If Ford can retain the Focus hatchback’s manners then the Focus Active could well be something of a sleeper hit.

You can have your Active with Ford’s powerful and fuel efficient 1.0-litre EcoBoost and 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engines delivering up to 182 PS, or the 1.5-litre EcoBlue and 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel engines delivering up to 150 PS – combined with six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmissions.

It doesn’t matter whether you go for the five-door or wagon body styles both are equipped with Ford’s sophisticated short long arm (SLA) independent rear suspension configuration.

However, the Active chassis features unique springs, dampers, stabiliser bars, and front and rear knuckle geometries, alongside a ride height raised 30 mm at the front and 34 mm at the rear over a standard Focus.

The SLA system optimises comfort and response, and features an isolated subframe that delivers a desirable balance between front and rear compliance over larger bumps in the road, for smoother journeys.

Multi-compound bushes feature different stiffness characteristics when stressed in different directions, for better isolation of smaller bumps and improved noise, vibration and harshness.

This isn’t just marketing speak, either. The Active feels very good for a crossover (albeit one with less SUV and more hatchback in its DNA). Most of the time you won’t even notice the extra height - there’s no increase in lean until you really press on and the ride comfort is exemplary.

For improved rough road ride and durability, 17-inch alloy wheels are fitted with higherprofile 215/55 R17 tyres.

In addition to the Normal, Sport and Eco Selectable Drive Modes you’ll find in all Focus models, the Focus Active introduces the rather embarrassingly named ‘Slippery’ mode, which adjusts the stability and traction control settings for increased confidence on surfaces with reduced grip such as mud, snow and ice; reduces straight-ahead wheel spin, including when pulling away and delivers a more passive throttle response. road conditions.

Inside the cabin, a leather steering wheel and gearknob with a leather grip, bright elements on the dashboard and door panels, and Active scuff plates give the interior a bit of a lift. The seats are trimmed with distinctive Active cloth featuring blue stitching. Mats with matching blue stitching are also available. The plastics are much improved and the fascia is cleaner with fewer buttons. All the upper surfaces are made from expensive slush-moulded plastics. Ford’s exemplary heating and ventilation system keeps the cabin at a pre-set temperature and a heated front windscreen is an absolute boon in bad weather.

Ford’s first head-up display to be offered in Europe helps drivers focus their attention on the road ahead, while a rear wide-view camera offers a 180-degree view for improved visibility when reversing from parking spaces or driveways.

Yeovil Express:

An 8-inch screen mirrors all popular phones and displays the sat nav maps.

The automatic lighting drove me mad. A sensor is supposed to recognise when you are following a car and select dipped beam but it had a mind of its own and would select high beam for no good reason, dazzling on-coming traffic.

Rear passenger knee clearance is improved by more than 50 mm compared with the old Focus, for a best-in-class 81 mm.

There are lots of storage spaces in the cabin, including a pair of cupholders. The boot has 341 litres which is no more than adequate.

The EcoBoost returned just over 50mpg over 800 miles of testing - an excellent result, albeit your mileage will vary.

VERDICT:


I really enjoyed the Focus Active.
In a market filled to bursting with ho-hum SUVs the Active offers a driver-focused alternative.
The suspension changes haven’t sacrificed too much of the Ford’s famous driving manners and the traction tweaks should make it better in bad weather.
Well worth a test drive.

LIKE THE SOUND OF IT? You can find out more about the Focus Active here