Ford Fiesta Active

1.0T EcoBoost

Ford Fiesta Active, front static 2
Ford Fiesta Active, full front static
Ford Fiesta Active, front static
Ford Fiesta Active, dash detail
Ford Fiesta Active, dashboard
Ford Fiesta Active, rear static
Ford Fiesta Active, rear static 2
Ford Fiesta Active, rear seats
Ford Fiesta Active, front seats
Ford Fiesta Active, full rear static
Ford Fiesta Active, boot
Ford Fiesta Active, boot 2

BRITAIN'S best selling new car just got a touch taller and rather more rugged looking as Ford adds a modest SUV feel to the Fiesta.

Changes to add the Active tag are gently done, limited mainly to extra dark cladding stretching from front to rear and a ride height increased by just 18mm over the non-Active car, with the wheels pushed out a tiny 10mm more from their wheelarches.

It makes the Active look just a little bit tougher; the sort of car you might point down a bumpy track without worrying about graunching noises beneath.

But it's absolutely not anything approaching a proper 4x4, although a button in the cockpit allows you to choose 'slippery' if the going gets a bit snowy or icy, with clever electronics cutting wheelspin as you put the power down.

Stick on a set of proper winter tyres and the Fiesta Active would likely be all you'd ever need to see out a typical British winter with confidence, avoiding the expense of going the full all-wheel drive route.

And when the sun shines you'll be at the wheel of the best driving small family hatchback you can buy - its imperceptibly higher stance not affecting the new Fiesta's delicious zest for life one little bit.

Actually, Ford has done a thorough job of modifying the Active's suspension for its new role. The result is a ride that stays the right side of firm but which smooths out the biggest bumps when the road turns ragged.

This attention to detail continues in the cockpit, where you'll find sporty front seats and upholstery with brightly coloured inserts adding a relaxed feel. Ford says the leather on the steering wheel is tested for its resistance to sun screen lotion, would you believe.

The Active upgrade line up doesn't precisely mirror Fiestas without the outdoor feel but adds around £1,600 to the cost of a car. The range starts at £17,795 for the Active 1 with five-doors and an 85bhp 1.0-litre petrol engine.

Topping out the Active choices is the £22,085 Active X with 120bhp 1.5-litre diesel but you sense the sweet spot is between the two extremes, perhaps with the car you see here.

With its 125hp three-cylinder petrol engine thrumming contentedly away when pushed, this feels every inch an eager young puppy of a car; turning impressively hushed at cruising speed and showing an encouraging 49.6mpg on the trip computer after a week of enthusiastic use.

It's worth dipping into the extras' list, if only to show how posher names than Ford ramp up the charges for those temptations that make you tick the boxes at ordering time.

For instance, an easily read and responsive satellite navigation system costs a modest £300 in the Active and heated front seats and steering wheel a further £250. The luxe yellow paint of the test car is a £745 option you might like to save, though.

FAST FACTS

Ford Fiesta Active 1.0T EcoBoost

Price: £19,695

Mechanical: 123bhp, 998cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 121mph

0-62mph: 10.4 seconds

Combined MPG: 56.5

Insurance Group: 10

C02 emissions: 113g/km

Bik rating: 23%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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