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Ford Focus Active Estate review

2018 onwards (change model)
Parkers overall rating: 4.7 out of 54.7
” Crossover estate blends a good mix of abilities “

At a glance

Price new £34,550
Used prices £9,111 - £24,640
Road tax cost £190
Insurance group 10 - 21
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Fuel economy 42.8 - 67.3 mpg
Range 515 - 765 miles
Miles per pound 5.6 - 8.6
View full specs for a specific version

Available fuel types

Petrol

Diesel

Pros & cons

PROS
  • Genuinely useful amount of space
  • Above-average ride comfort
  • Well-resolved looks, rather than over the top
  • Traditional Ford ease of use
CONS
  • All-show, no go(ing off-road)
  • Bodyroll is very evident compared to ST-Line
  • Interior trim a bit drab for the Active image
  • Quality is good – but still lags behind some rivals

Written by Richard Kilpatrick Published: 8 January 2020 Updated: 9 January 2020

Overview

In a world where car buyers can comfortably afford aspiration over functionality, the fundamentally rational small-to-medium family car needs to do more to stay on the shortlists. For most marques, that means homing in on the sporty, hot-hatch image of halo models and bringing it down the range, so even the most affordable versions have lowered suspension, large alloy wheels and skinny tyres. Great for cornering quickly, but less appealing for potholes, speedbumps and the increasingly neglected condition of many British roads.

Solving the dilemma of sporty estate, or tall crossover, Ford has joined the ranks of manufacturers producing tall, off-road-looking versions of their regular cars. The Ford Focus Active, unlike the Skoda Octavia Scout or Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is not available with all-wheel drive though, which begs the question: what’s the point?

Rugged makeover is effective

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2019 Ford Focus Active Estate - rear
2019 Ford Focus Active Estate - rear

With no major changes to the Focus Estate’s already appealing shape, the Active builds on the sleek lines with moderately restrained plastic arches and bumper protection. Think of it more as a heavy bold outline on the regular Focus, rather than an off-road makeover; Ford offers the Kuga if you want something more purposeful. Given Ford’s deep understanding of real-world family needs, it’s a harmonious transformation that complements touches such as the automatic door protectors and heated windscreen and steering wheel. The Focus Active is, essentially, ready for anything normal life can throw at it – it just doesn’t need to pretend it can survive in the Outback or climb Everest in the process.

The flipside of this is that it is really no more than a makeover – technically the Focus Active is almost identical to a Focus Estate, bar the 30mm increase in ride height and modified bumper. Anyone who remembers the days before every car being an ST-Line, S Line or AMG Line may also recall the typical 30-40mm lowered suspension and larger alloys that were part and parcel of upgrading a family car to a performance model; the Focus Active is more of a return to normal cars for real-world demands, dressed up in aspirational clothes.

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2019 Ford Focus Active X wheel
2019 Ford Focus Active X wheel

Engines from 1.0-litre to 2.0-litre

Propelling the most affordable Focus Active is a three-cylinder, 1.0-litre turbo petrol with first-for-its-class cylinder deactivation, making it one of the most efficient engines you can get in a car this size. Producing 125hp, it’s adequate for most needs, but you can go for the 150-hp 1.5-litre if you need more torque or have all seats occupied frequently. Diesels of 120hp and 150hp are also offered, the latter being a torquey 2.0-litre for more traditional power delivery; all are available with a slick-shifting six-speed manual or a smooth eight-speed automatic.

Familiar Ford interior, but not much differentiation

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2019 Ford Focus Active X Estate interior
2019 Ford Focus Active X Estate interior

In becoming an Active model, the Focus Estate retains the same functional dashboard as the regular car, which comes as no surprise, but there are few clues to give away that you’re in an Active model. Different seat trim that feels suitably rugged and not much else gives the game away. 

It’s not exactly a deal breaker as the popular Ford’s interior is well-built and particularly spacious in Estate form, it’s just not all that interesting, and doesn’t feel quite suitable as a top-spec model in some cases. 

Value for money remains intact

Crucially for Ford, the Focus Active Estate carries off the aspirational, upmarket appearance of a crossover/SUV without adding an unreasonable amount to the price. Despite featuring more to differentiate it from a regular Focus than the popular ST-Line trim level, it costs the same for the same equipment – and on the X, even adds a panoramic sunroof.

Is that enough, though, to satisfy the dreams and real-world needs of Britain’s drivers? Read on to find out in our full review.