By on 2019-02-25 -
Ford Focus Active a
great all rounder
ORIGINALLY, sports utility vehicles all came with four wheel drive so that they were capable of tough off-road use.
But the lines have long been blurred and the majority of them today are front wheel drive as they never leave the Tarmac.
Owners like the rugged looks but don't need the all terrain ability.
Now Ford is blurring the lines in the other direction with its new Focus Active - a hatch or estate with SUV styling and raised ride height that doesn't compromise on all the model's plus points.
I recently had a taste of it on some rough surfaced roads in the Peak District, and it was excellent - a complete delight.
I drove the latest 1.5-litre three cylinder Ecoblue diesel turbo, which comes with a six speed manual gearbox even though most competitors only offer a five speed with smaller diesels.
There are two versions available with either 95 or 120bhp, and I drove the more powerful one.
There is also a 2 litre 150bhp diesel, and a choice of five different power outputs from 1.0 and 1.5-litre petrol turbos.
The Ecoblue 1.5 offers the best of all worlds, with good acceleration through the gears and best economy of 62mpg. It also has very low emissions of just 93 grammes per kilometre.
But where it really scored on the rough Peak roads was the superb ride. This is a car that will take the very worst you can throw at it - even at fast speeds - and shrug it off with ease.
Nothing phased the 30mm raised suspension , leaving me completely unruffled and looking for tougher tests to see if I could upset it. I couldn't!
It even takes potholed town roads with ease and rides over speed humps as if they're not there.
The roadholding and handling are also excellent. There's very little roll through hard corners, and this together with top quality balance, helps give superb grip.
Ford's tactile and informative steering adds to the mix, making every corner a joy, and quick changes of direction seem the norm.
The engine is very quiet and refined, and unusually for a diesel, even sounds good when it's revved.
Sixth is a cruising gear for the motorway, but there is good acceleration in fifth and it's even better in fourth, when the engine is pulling hard by just 1,700 revs.
The whole car drives so beautifully that I would put it right at the top of the class, and it also matches the best in terms of fit and finish, both inside and out.
The gearchange is easy and quick, the clutch is light and there's a good left footrest to help comfort on longer journeys.
The Active specification includes Slippery Surface and Trail modes that use the traction control to help the front wheels grip in difficult conditions.
Other equipment includes hill start assist, stop/start, special alloys, unique grille and bumpers, skid plates and side mouldings, black roof and mirror caps, roof rails and twin exhausts.
It also comes with automatric headlights and wipers, LED front foglights with a cornering function, an eight inch touchscreen for sat nav and DAB stereo, Bluetooth, voice control, two USBs and a link for Android Auto and Apple Carplay.
Safety is also excellent, with a lane keeping aid and lane departure warning, pre-collision assistance with autonomous emergency braking, cyclist and pedestrian detection and post collision braking.
The Focus Active is so good it will appeal to a wide range of buyers across the spectrum. It costs from £22,850.
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