Review: Ford Fiesta Active

Image of Neil Thomason
Author: | Updated: 06 Mar 2020 17:19

The Ford Fiesta Active is a simple yet smart idea that works on all levels. Confident, competent, capable and 18mm higher. A sensible success.

While there’s no doubt the Ford Fiesta appeals to a wide selection of UK motorists, having been the new car market’s most popular car for more years than we care to remember, it’s no secret that consumer trends have been changing towards crossovers for a long time now.

Which brings us to this, the Ford Fiesta Active, a not-so-subtle attempt at future proofing Ford’s most important model in the UK.

Ford Fiesta Active lead

Confident, capable. Don't dismiss it. Leasing.com five-word review

The Active aims to appeal to the shrewd driver of the regular Fiesta who might have been tempted away by something of similar size and around the same price, say the Nissan Juke or Seat Arona. The Fiesta Active allows them the desired look of a crossover without the larger dimensions.

Ford Fiesta Active rear

As the designated crossover of the Fiesta range, it features a more beefy body kit over the regular supermini. This comes in the form of roof rails, silver scuff plates and chunky black trim around the wheel arches, door sills and bumpers, all of which combines to give it a much more distinct look. Also thrown into the mix is 10mm wider track for a more ‘imposing’ stance, suspension revisions, and a nose-bleed-inducing 18mm increase in ride height which makes driving over a bumpy field, in a country park, or over a rutted car park a little bit easier but that’s about it.

The real mark of genius about the Active is that all these little additions haven’t exactly impacted the Fiesta’s famed fun driving characteristics

Along these lines, while there’s no four-wheel drive option for obvious reasons, Ford has added three selectable drive modes: Eco, Normal and Slippery, the latter tweaking the traction control to help the front wheels and allow much more surety in wet weather. This is further enhanced by Ford’s Electronic Stability Programme and Hill Start Assist. All of this combines to give added confidence to drivers and is honestly about all the ‘off-road’ capability most road users need anyway. So while the Fiesta Active is certainly a faux by faux rather than a 4x4 these little touches really mean a lot and could make all the difference for your regular driver.

Ford Fiesta OTR

It’s the kind of car you’d be more than happy with if you were given it as a holiday hire. It’s a solid all-rounder.

The real mark of genius about the Active is that all these little additions haven’t exactly impacted the Fiesta’s famed fun driving characteristics either. While the ride is noticeably firmer due to all the little additions listed above, it has the kind of handling which is a world away from some of the comparably-sized models in the crossover-proper segment. Make no mistake, this is a real win for the car in the comparison stakes.

Step inside the Fiesta Active and it’s certainly the devil you know. We tested the range-topping Active X model which benefitted from half-leather upholstery with heated front seats, power door mirrors, a rear-view camera and keyless entry and start system. A 4.2in TFT display in the instrument cluster is also included.

Ford Fiesta Active infotainment

The SYNC 3 touchscreen infotainment is easy to use and shows just how much smartphone layout and design has bled over into the world of car infotainment units. The free-floating 8in touchscreen features an app-style layout for you to choose satnav, media and contacts, but if you prefer screen mirroring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also offered.

Ultimately the car is [...] a simple yet smart idea that works on all levels.

Rear passenger space is more than acceptable for a supermini, with plenty of leg room on offer for adult passengers, and it offers 292 litres of boot space. This extends to 1,094 litres with the rear seats folded down in 60-40 split. In combination with the ride and styling, it’s the kind of car you’d be more than happy with if you were given it as a holiday hire as it’s a solid all-rounder that ticks a lot of boxes from a practicality and driving perspective.

Ford Fiesta Active side

The 1.5-litre turbo-diesel engine with six speed manual gearbox in the model we tested certainly isn’t going to be the go-to option if current trends are anything to go by, but it does provide a level of surety to the vehicle and certainly emphasises its crossover aspirations. Producing 85hp and 215 Nm of torque it’s not exactly quick from the off, with its 0-62mph in 12.5 seconds, but is smooth and efficient once you’re up to speed. The model returned 55mpg throughout a week of mostly motorway and A-road driving.

All in all the Ford Fiesta Active was far better than I was expecting it to be, blowing away my lazy assumptions over the course of a week. Ultimately the car is confident, competent and capable, a simple yet smart idea that works on all levels. Now if only Ford would bring out a Fiesta hybrid.

Ford Fiesta Active conclusion

Model tested: Ford Fiesta Active X 1.5 TDCi

Exterior

The Ford Fiesta Active gives drivers the desired look of a crossover without the larger dimensions and features a more beefy body kit over the regular supermini.

Interior

Similar to the regular Fiesta albeit seat material is a bit more hardwearing to go along with the Active’s image. SYNC 3 infotainment is a delight to use.

Driving

While the ride is a little firmer, the Active hasn’t sacrificed the Fiesta’s fun drivability. The handling is a world away from some of the comparably-sized models in the crossover-proper segment which is a big win for the Active.

Space

Rear passenger space is more than acceptable for a supermini. It offers 292 litres of boot space which extends to 1094 litres with the rear seats folded down in 60-40 split.

Efficiency

The 1.5-litre turbo-diesel engine provides a level of surety to the vehicle and certainly emphasises its crossover aspirations, returning 55mpg over the week.

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