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SUV-look Ford Fiesta Active: why petrol makes sense

  • Crossover styling gives the Fiesta a rugged appearance
  • Engine range is still user chooser-friendly, though
  • Mid-range B&O Play spec is the pick of the range

Sporting SUV-inspired styling, the Ford Fiesta Active is now available to order, but forget the TDCi diesel options because it’s the tax-friendly EcoBoost petrol that has the greatest appeal here.

Hang on – an off-road Fiesta?

No, not quite. First and foremost, the Fiesta Active is mechanically identical to its more conventional siblings, so it remains front-wheel drive. If you want four-wheel drive in a compact Ford you’ll have to wait until the EcoSport 4x4 arrives in showrooms in late spring 2018. The Fiesta's no flash in the pan, either - Ka+ Active will follow it, with a Focus Active due in 2019.

Ford Fiesta Active front static

What helps the Fiesta Active cash-in on the crossover appeal are essentially superficial modifications, including elevated Rough Road Suspension, wheelarch and side-sill extensions in rugged unpainted plastic, chunky five-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels, integrated roof rails, and selectable drive modes comprising of Eco, Normal and Slippery.

As a standalone model, the five-door only Fiesta Active comes in three trim levels: 1 (slightly higher than a Fiesta Zetec), B&O Play and range-topping X.

Which Ford Fiesta Active engine is best for company car drivers?

There’s a restricted choice of powerplants for the Fiesta Active, but all are turbocharged for both power and efficiency.

If you fancy a petrol then Ford’s three-cylinder 1.0-litre EcoBoost is available in 85hp, 100hp, 125hp and 140hp guises, while the four-cylinder 1.5-litre TDCi diesel comes in 85hp and 120hp outputs.

All have a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, with an automatic option limited to just the 100hp petrol engine.

Ford Fiesta Active LHD dashboard

With CO2 emissions of just 96g/km, you’d be forgiven for thinking that one of the TDCi diesels would be our choice, but given the 4% Benefit-in-Kind (BIK) surcharge for diesels from April 2018, which places it in the 24% band, it doesn’t get our vote.

Instead, we’d opt for the peppy 125hp version of the EcoBoost, which at 108g/km sits in the 22% BIK band.

How much does a Ford Fiesta Active cost to tax?

Given that it adds useful features such as automatic high-beam headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, DAB radio, and smartphone connection through Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, we’d opt for the mid-range Fiesta Active B&O Play over the entry-level 1.

That specification with the 125hp EcoBoost engine has a P11D value of £19,470, resulting in a monthly bill for a 20% rate-payer of £65 at 2018/19 rates.

Opt for the 120hp TDCi diesel motor and those figures jump to £20,720 and £73, respectively, equating to £96 extra per year.

Ford Fiesta Active rear dynamic

Where the diesel option might make sense is for company car drivers who have a high annual mileage – here the diesel’s fuel-sipping ability may begin to make sense. Officially it averages 78.4mpg, versus the 125hp EcoBoost’s 58.8mpg figure, although you’re unlikely to come close to either of those figures in the real-world.

However, the Fiesta Active remains a small car, and these tend to be used more for shorter, urban-centric journeys where a petrol engine’s efficiency strengths lie.

We will be among the first to test this SUV-esque supermini, so visit us again soon for Parkers’ full Ford Fiesta Active review