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Ford Focus Active X Estate Review

What is it?

You may look at this car as Ford just filling every possible niche they can, but the tough estate has been around for a long time. Volvo have been making Cross Country version of the V70 since 1997, Audi too with Allroad version of the A6 estate since 1999 and even VW, Vauxhall and Skoda have joined the trend since then.

But is there any point one of these over the enormous choice of crossovers now on sale? Well yes, if we compare the Active Estate with its big brother the Ford Kuga, the Focus has it beat on price, boot space and economy. Also I think the Focus is better looking than the Kuga and seeing as this is an all new model, the interior has a modern and stylish feel compared to the Kuga’s current last year interior which is now a little tired.

With Ford’s dedicated SUVs arguably in need of some well-thought-out replacements, the arrival of the Focus Active couldn’t be timelier. Sure, it won’t appeal to crossover buyers who prioritise a lofty driving position but, as a jacked-up, tougher version of the most convincing car in the Ford stable, it represents good value compared to a normal crossover of this size.

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So how does it drive?

As this is a rugged vehicle the ride height is taller than the standard Focus at there is slightly more body roll thanks to the taller, unique suspension tune. However the fundamental feeling of the Focus’ chassis setup is still there to be exploited and the additional length of spring and larger tyres mean the Active boasts a slightly suppler ride than the rest of the Focus range. Not only is this a car to easily take cross-country but it’s also a superbly comfortable one for long-distance motorway journeys. The steering is direct and effortless and the automatic gearbox is smooth.

Even though the vehicle is 30mm taller than the usual Focus, the driving position doesn’t feel any taller or commanding. Therefore if this is the reason the customer is looking for a crossover this vehicle will not cut it.

 Underlying its true position as a slightly taller hatchback rather than a true SUV is the drivetrain. All-wheel-drive isn’t available, the Focus Active is front-wheel drive only, but with a couple of off-road driving modes, tailoring the traction control for slippery and soft surfaces. Dirt trails shouldn’t be an issue, but it likely won’t venture as far off the beaten track as a compact SUV equipped with a proper all-wheel drive system might.

 

What’s it like on the inside?

The Active X has almost every optional extra fitted as standard, however there are still some options that can be added such as B&O speakers, wireless phone charger and 360 degree cameras. The rugged feel continues on the inside of the car as well with full leather seats not an option or standard, the only seat option is part leather, part fabric but this doesn’t cheapen the interior at all.

The estate tested here came with a full length panoramic sunroof filling the cabin with light and making the interior feel infinitely spacious, in my opinion this is a definitely the most important option box to tick when ordering a Focus Active.

The rest of the interior is the same as the standard Focus a mix of leather and soft plastics. Every switch and button falls easy to hand and is where you expect it to be. The 8” touch screen is bright, clear and easy to navigate and on the Active X comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.

The automatic Focus ditches the classic gear stick for a Jaguar Land Rover type dial, giving the car an upmarket feel and makes selecting a doddle with a flick of the wrist.

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What’s the final verdict?

The Ford Focus Estate stands out as the best-handling family estates, complemented by a decent ride, generous passenger space and a large boot possessed of some handy design features and the Active X rugged looks and taller ride height don’t change this. All they do is let this great car enter a new demographic by going after the crossover audience.

Although with the lack of true off-road capability with the lack of all-wheel drive this may hinder its appeal against rivals such as Audi Allroads or Volvo Cross Countries. This vehicle however is a lot cheap than either of these and is still highly appealing in its class. If you are looking for a taller off-road estate or considering a small crossover this vehicle is very much worth a look at.

 

Engine

1.0l Ecoboost

0 – 60 mph

10.3s

Top speed

123 mph

CO2

107 g/km

Transmission

Automatic

Fuel economy

44.1 – 49.6 mpg

Insurance Group

16E

Price (as tested)

£30,405

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