Since the popularity of SUVs & crossovers soared nearly two decades ago and they became an every day sight on driveways and outside school gates, the question many have asked, sometimes out of pure jealousy, has been “but do you really need one?”
It may be somewhat ironic, given their shift towards ‘lifestyle vehicles‘ and away from actual cars in recent times, but whilst the Focus is still alive, Ford does provide a spacious, rough and tumble alternative in the shape of this; the Focus Active. It’s available in both hatch and estate guise, we obviously have the estate here and I do feel that if you’re going to make a pitch to step out of your SUV and into an Active, it makes sense if it’s the one with most carrying capacity as that’s a big part of the SUV appeal. Apparently.
Is it just a few bits of extra trim?
What you get over a run-of-the-mill Focus is actually quite substantial, far more than a bit of plastic cladding and an enthusiastic nameplate. Ok, there is a fair amount of plastic cladding but there’s far more convincing upgrades to the Focus Active that’ll see you able to go farther from the beaten track.
The ride height, for one, is raised by 30mm and the tyres are a higher profile so they’re not only more forgiving over rough ground, they’re more grippy too. Look underneath and you’ll notice the tough plastic isn’t confined to the wheel-arches, there’s skid plates to protect the underside from protruding rocks etc.
When the new Focus came out a few years ago, different rear suspension setups were fitted, dependent not only on body shape but also engine size. Put simply, if you had a Focus hatch with a small engine it came with torsion beam rear suspension, larger engined hatches came with a more complex multi-link setup and all Focus estates came with multi-link, regardless of engine size. Got that? Good, because just to throw a spanner in the works, all Focus Actives, regardless of engine come with multi-link rear suspension.
What does that mean in real terms? Well, the multi-link is the preferred way of tackling lumps and bumps, the torsion beam was widely criticised for its unforgiving nature. In the Active it’s comfortable and responsive but we also feel that when its combined with that elevated ride height and extra rubber in the tyre walls, the car loses a bit of the, ahem, focus that the Focus has been lauded for since the Mk1.
Two specs, two power outputs
In both hatch and estate format there’s two specs to choose from; Active and Active X. The Active starts at £29,320 for the hatch, £30,480 for the estate. The Active X adds a shade over £2k to the price, coming in at £31,520 for the hatch, £32,680 for the estate. All Focus Actives come with Ford’s 1.0l EcoBoost petrol engine under the bonnet, either with 124bhp output or 153bhp – the former being mated to a 6-speed manual ‘box, the latter a 7-speed auto.
Is the Focus Active 4WD?
All Focus Actives are FWD – well, you didn’t really expect any different, did you? What does set the Active apart from other Focus grades are the addition of a couple of drive modes. Where most Focuses get Normal, Eco, Sport etc, the Active also has a Slippery mode and a Trail mode which adjusts throttle response, steering feel and gearbox characteristics. Will the majority of Focus Actives ever see an actual trail? – probably not but Slippery mode could be very reassuring on wet surfaces.
The Focus Active comes with model specific black 17″ alloys, the Active X gets 18s. All versions get a 13.2″ touchscreen with wireless smartphone integration, keyless entry and start, front and rear parking sensors and LED lights all round. Pay the premium for the Active X and the upgrades include heated front seat and steering wheel, power driver’s seat, B & O audio and wireless charging.
The seat materials differ from spec to spec, too. The Active gets a tough cloth with a blue A highlighted in the seat back whereas the Active X gets the more premium leather-like Sensico seats found in higher spec Focuses. If getting off the beaten track really is your thing, the wipe-clean Sensico could make a lot of sense.
Should I buy a Focus Active?
The Focus Active will never have the off-road ability of a proper 4×4 on the right tyres, it doesn’t claim to in all fairness. What it does is span the line between hatch/estate and crossover so it avoids the cringy reputation crossovers have gained. When you look at the extra gear an Active comes with over lower spec Focuses and then consider the relatively small difference in price, it’s a practical car that ticks lots of boxes.
By Ben Harrington
2024 Ford Focus Active Estate Specifications:
Engine – 1.0-l, 3-cylinder petrol, Transmission – 7-speed auto, Layout – Front engine, FWD, Power – 153bhp,Torque – 190Nm Emissions – 132g/km CO2, Economy – 48.7mpg, Maximum Speed – 129mph, Acceleration – 8.4s – 0-62mph, Price – £32,330 OTR
The 2024 Ford Focus Active is available now, priced from £29,320. For full details go to:www.ford.co.uk