What is it?
The Focus Active is Ford’s attempt to claw back territory for the conventional hatchback – territory lost to an onslaught of SUVs, including its own mid-sized option, the Kuga.
And it might have hit on something, because there are good reasons why you might buy a Focus Active instead of an SUV. Without four-wheel drive, a towering frontal area and beefed-up bodywork, it's respectively less expensive to buy, more fuel efficient and easier to manoeuvre, but a 30mm increase in ride height over the standard Focus still makes it easier to slide into and gives occupants a bit of a perch. Because this is a Focus, it should also be far better to drive than any comparable ‘sports’ utility vehicle.
To make up for the fact that the Focus Active is ultimately not an SUV are lots of rugged-looking styling additions. Black plastic conspicuously adorns a new front bumper, from where it flows down the sides of the car, looping over the wheelarches in a style you’ll find on everything from the Fiat Panda 4x4 to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain. The grille is also blacked out, because chrome just doesn’t look very tough, and naturally the skidplates are false.
Mechanically, the Focus Active is almost identical to the standard hatchback, offering a choice of three-cylinder turbocharged petrol and four-cylinder diesel engines driving the front wheels through either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearbox. The trim levels, Active and Active X, slot in at Zetec level, only with sat-nav and privacy glass as standard. Both come equipped with independent rear suspension, while Active X adds 18in alloy wheels and a panoramic roof.