Parkers overall rating: 4.7 out of 5 4.7
  • Very little to differentiate from standard Focus
  • Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing
  • Decent visibility and comfort levels

There is very little to fault in a standard Ford Focus interior. Masters of ergonomics for everyday drivers, Ford generally get the basics of decent seats, robust controls and easy-to-read instruments right no matter what the specification.

For some buyers, though, the Focus Active Estate might fall short of the expectations set by the well-executed exterior. It’s very similar to the standard Focus, with very little to lift it or carry the more rugged lifestyle aesthetic through. The dash trim is slightly different in shade, and the seats have a pleasingly tactile fabric in addition to the leather bolsters on the Active X, but it feels like more could have been done to add some excitement.

It’s well put together, and free of rattles even with the full-length sunroof specified, though oddment storage is a step backward from the previous generation of Focus. Refinement overall is impressive, and only really suffers when working the 1.5-litre diesel models hard; petrol versions are less vocal.

Advanced technology impresses – but the cost stacks up

As generous as the Focus Active and Active X seem on paper, a lot of the really neat features live on the options list. Top of the boxes to tick is the convenience package, which includes a wide-angle reversing camera, active parking assistance (on automatic models, able to take full control of the car to self-park) and those clever pop-out door edge protectors. As with other Fords if the trim level includes some of the features, the pack price is reduced - so it’s always good value. If you’re torn between Active and X, going for the lower-spec model and adding a couple of packs could be more satisfying, particularly if you’re not bothered about the panoramic roof.

Ford’s impressive driver assistance, with active lane keeping, traffic sign recognition and adaptive cruise control is equally expensive, while the premium options of B&O surround-sound audio, head-up display and adaptive LED lighting can add thousands.

Is the Active more comfortable?

  • Raised suspension is perfect for Britain’s roads
  • Proven Ford ergonomics, though not their best spec
  • Enough space for unstressed long-distance drives

Yes, the Ford Focus Active is appreciably gentler and more compliant when faced with the cracked and rutted tarmac of the UK’s road network. It’s not air-suspension smooth, and it’s not equipped with Ford’s most advanced adaptive suspension, but it does a great job of isolating occupants from the harshest shocks, and rides well at speed without wallowing or pitching. Combined with the excellent dual-zone climate control in the Active X, this is a very pleasant place to be whether battling urban congestion, or enjoying a free-flowing country road.

A slight disappointment comes in the range of standard seat adjustments. While the seats are comfortable enough, you’re limited to fore-aft, back recline, lumbar and height, with no tilt, thigh support or movable lumbar position. Optional ‘comfort’ seats with more adjustment are available on the Active, but curiously not on the Active X, which features electric movement.

When there are so few things to adjust, the motors become less important, and rivals offer more flexibility. If the regular Active’s equipment is enough for you, don’t lament missing out on the seat switches; on the other hand, the heated seats of the Active X can be set to furnace-levels of warmth (further augmented by the sensibly-priced heated steering wheel option), and in summer the standard opening panoramic sunroof is pleasant.

If you can see a pattern forming here, it’s because the Active X really does offer the best value; the saving had by going for the standard Active comes with less sophisticated air conditioning, seat trim, less advanced infotainment, no sunroof, and cold, manually adjusted seats.