THERE'S no doubting the popularity of the Ford Focus with the model frequently featuring high in the top 10 monthly car sales figures, but now the option of hybrid technology has been added to the mix.
The Focus is available in estate or hatchback body styles and with a range of powerful and award-winning engines. Now customers can see improved fuel efficiency along with lower carbon emissions by choosing one of the hybrid versions.
We tried the Focus Active X in Vignale trim powered by a three-cylinder, 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine with a 48-volt battery.
This car, priced at £28,680 (£29,630 with options), could complete the 0-62mph sprint in 9.5 seconds and topped out at 129mph. According to official figures, under stricter WLTP testing, the vehicle could deliver a combined 51.4mpg with CO2 of 124g/km.
The Focus Active model boasts a higher ground clearance with SUV styling and lots of extra cladding. Although it's by no means a 4x4 there are additional drive modes alongside the traditional Normal, Eco and Sport ones. These are for driving on gravel tracks or wet grass and are called Slippery and Trail modes.
The car looks great from any angle with its more upright stance,special Active bumpers, a unique upper and lower grille, branded scuff plates, skid plates, wheel arch mouldings, a panoramic roof, 18-inch black painted alloys, twin tail pipes and body coloured power-folding door mirrors with puddle lamps.
The interior is very classy with Vignale Leather upholstered seats and a wealth of technology at your fingertips, including apremium Bang & Olufsen surround sound system, the Ford SYNC 3 infotainment system with an eight-inch floating touchscreen that introduces a DAB radio, navigation and Bluetooth. There is also a wireless smartphone charging pad plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity.
The 4.2-inch instrument cluster behind the steering wheel can be personalised and the car also features FordPass Connect - an app-based system that allows you to control all manner of functions from your phone, such as locking and unlocking the car, checking the tyre pressure and getting live traffic reports.
When it comes to performance, Ford's three-pot EcoBoost engine is certainly up to the task. The tried and tested formula behind this clever little engine was never in any doubt as it powers through country lanes with bundles of acceleration and zip to overtake slower vehicles.
The road holding is impressive and there is minimal sign of body sway into tighter bends.
The six-speed manual gearbox is responsive and the front-wheel drive Focus Active is happy clocking up the motorway miles too, although the noise levels do increase quite significantly if the engine is pushed too hard for too long.
The car is agile in town settings and the Park Assist helps make light work of squeezing into a tight space.
On the practicality front, the Focus Active has all bases covered. There is plenty of room for two adults to sit comfortably in the back so long as the front seats are not pushed right back. Or a trio of youngsters could fit snugly across the rear seats.
With all seats in an upright position the boot can swallow 341 litres of kit and this limit increases to 1,320 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. Boot hooks help keep shopping bags upright and secure and there's lots of handy storage options throughout the car, including cup holders that can be size-adjusted to fit cups or bottles, decent sized door pockets, a glovebox, sunglasses holder, central cubby and a small compartment hidden away near the driver's right knee.