2019 Ford Focus Active review - prices, specs and release date

The Ford Focus Active adds an SUV flavour to the Focus range to boost appeal...

2019 Ford Focus Active hatchback front three-quarters

Priced from £21,900 | Release date Now

Are you a member of the following fraternities: wind surfing, mountain climbing or paragliding? Then you’re clearly that active person in the archetypal SUV advert and, according to the hype, ridiculously ripped, permanently happy and smiling through teeth the colour of a snowman’s tan.

That’s the marketing hype, anyway, but the reality is often a little less Californian; most of us would barely contemplate mountain biking to Waitrose, making the SUV less of a lifestyle vehicle and more of a cry to drive something just a little bit different. That’s where the new Ford Focus Active comes in. 

It doesn't have four-wheel drive and it probably isn't capable of swallowing your windsurfer whole and delivering it straight to a sandy Cornish cove, but it does have some rugged-looking black plastic body adornments and a set of chunky tyres to help it stand out from the crowd. Plus, the ride height has been raised by 30mm over the regular Focus and there are bespoke off-road traction control settings to prove those rugged looks aren't just for show.

On top of all that, it's a lot cheaper than most full-blown SUVs (prices start at less the £22,000 before discounts), and it's available as both a hatchback and an estate.

2019 Ford Focus Active hatchback rear three-quarters driving

2019 Ford Focus Active on the road

The Active is much like the regular Focus to drive. True, the bigger tyres add a little more elasticity to the steering – the Active doesn't respond to inputs quite as quickly – but it’s still weighted deliciously and geared to perfection. As a result, you can point the nose at every corner with the accuracy of an Olympic rifle shooter. 

The raised ride height also means there's an inevitable, yet small, increase in body roll through bends, but this is still one of the most rewarding cars in the class to drive spiritedly. Indeed, it's far tidier to drive than most proper SUVs.

While the current Focus doesn't ride quite as comfortably as the best of its rivals – the Volkswagen Golf rides bumps in a more compliant manner – the Active is far from jarring and has the same controlled feel along undulating roads. Surprisingly, though, those bigger tyres, which you might imagine would be better at rounding off sharper edges, actually aren't. Mind you, wind and road noise are still kept nicely at bay on the motorway.

Four engine options are available: a 123bhp 1.0-litre petrol, a 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol, a 120bhp 1.5-litre diesel and a 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel. We’d stick with the 1.0-litre petrol. It won't set your hair on fire but provides sufficient performance and is very smooth, even when worked hard. The 1.5-litre diesel is noticeably coarser, and although it has more mid-range pull, it isn't much faster overall.

2019 Ford Focus Active hatchback dashboard

2019 Ford Focus Active interior

Inside, the changes are minimal over the regular Ford Focus. The driving position remains pretty much spot on, with loads of steering wheel and seat adjustment. The dashboard is well laid out, too, although the infotainment system is fiddly and temperamental compared to the Skoda Octavia Scout’s. Then there's the interior fit and finish, which is some way behind the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack’s.

The space on offer is very good, though. All versions have room for two tall adults in the front, while the Focus is nearly as impressive as the Octavia when it comes to rear seat space. The hatchback’s boot space is decent but not Octavia-beating, so you might want to look at the estate instead for a more practical option.

For a detailed look at the Ford Focus's interior, click here to head to our full review.

Next: 2019 Ford Focus Active verdict