Ford Fiesta Active review
The Ford Fiesta Active is designed for those who fancy a hint of off-road ability from their compact hatchback, but it’s more expensive than the standard car as a result
What's not so good
Ford Fiesta Active: what would you like to read next?
The new Ford Fiesta Active is a chunky looking family hatchback with raised suspension designed to make it more adept at tackling the odd muddy farm track. You’ll probably spend more time in it on the school run or popping to the shops that traipsing across rutted fields, and in this respect, it’s a decent alternative to the likes of the VW Polo, SEAT Ibiza and Citroen C3.
Unlike the standard Fiesta, the Fiesta Active comes with five doors to make it easier to live with. The interior isn’t quite as roomy as the likes of the VW Polo and can’t match the C3 for funky design features, but the materials feel plusher than the Ibiza.
Entry-level cars come with a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system as standard, but you can get a bigger 8.0-inch unit in Fiesta Active B&O and Active X models that’s easier to read on the move. Sadly, it isn’t as intuitive as the Polo’s slicker setup, but you do get smartphone mirroring for Apple and Android phones.
Standard across the range is adjustable lumbar support for the driver’s seat – something your lower back will thank you for on long journeys. There’s lots of space to stretch out in the front, too, but room in the back is a bit more cramped. Headroom is tight and there isn’t as much space for carrying three passengers side-by-side as you get in the Polo.
It’s a similar story when it comes to boot space. The Fiesta Active’s loadbay isn’t as spacious or as easy to load as those in the VW and SEAT and a height-adjustable boot floor costs extra across the range.
You can think of the Fiesta Active as a small car that’s put on a pair of hiking boots – it’s more at home going off-road, but only just
If you regularly pack your car full of luggage, you’ll want to pick one of the more powerful 1.0-litre petrol models with either 125hp or 140hp. These pack more than enough punch to cruise along at motorway speeds and return decent fuel economy, too.
There’s also a 100hp petrol that’s ideally suited to inner-city driving and a pair of diesels that return even better economy, but they feel pretty sluggish by comparison. Whichever model you pick, you get a slick six-speed manual gearbox as standard, but not automatic emergency braking like many small hatchbacks.
Despite this, the Ford Fiesta Active is worth considering if you happen to like your practical hatchbacks to be comfortable and come with a healthy dollop of eye-catching SUV styling. If you prefer the understated look, however, you’ll be better off with the standard Fiesta.
The Ford Fiesta Active comes with five doors as standard so they’re a bit easier to live with. Sadly, the boot’s still some way off what you get in roomier rivals
There’s plenty of room in the front of the Ford Fiesta Active, even if you’re very tall. The steering wheel adjusts for reach and rake and your seat comes with height adjustment as standard so it’s a doddle to find a comfortable driving position. Even entry-level Active 1 models come with adjustable lumbar support to help prevent backache on long drives, too.
The Ford Fiesta Active sits a little higher up than the standard Fiesta. This raised ‘ride height’ not only helps clear obstacles when you are driving down bumpy tracks, but if your knees or hips aren’t what they used to be, you’ll find it a little bit easier to get in and out of the Fiesta Active over the standard car.
Unlike the standard Fiesta, you can only get the Ford Fiesta Active with five doors. As a result, you don’t have to get out to let passengers climb in the back seats and it’s much easier to lift in a bulky child seat and anchor it using the standard Isofix points.
Sadly, the Active’s back seats aren’t particularly spacious. There’s just enough room for a six-foot passenger, but they’ll soon start complaining if they have to sit behind an equally tall driver. Two kids will have space to stretch out, however, but the dark roof lining you get in Active B&O Play and Active X models does make it feel a bit claustrophobic.
The Fiesta’s front door pockets and glovebox will just about hold a 1.0-litre bottle each, and every Ford Fiesta Active gets two cupholders in the centre console.
If you want an armrest in the front, you’ll have to pay extra for a B&O Play or X model, but this does come with a useful storage bin – perfect for hiding your phone safely out of the way.
The Ford Fiesta Active‘s 292-litre boot is seven litres larger than a Corsa’s, but it’s significantly smaller than the likes of the 355-litre loadbay you get in a Polo. That said, it’s still big enough to carry a few large suitcases. A large baby buggy is a tighter squeeze, however, and there’s a tall load lip which gets in the way if you need to load very heavy luggage. You can get a height-adjustable boot floor that makes this easier, but it’ll set you back an extra £75.
The back seats fold in a two-way (60:40) split, so you can carry some long luggage and a passenger in the back at once. If you need to carry very bulky items, such as a bike, you can fold both rear seats down to bump the Fiesta’s boot capacity up to 1,093 litres. That’s around 30 litres less than you get in a five-door Corsa, but still big enough for a few bits of flat-packed furniture.
There’s a pair of shopping hooks to help keep your groceries nice and secure and there’s also a velcro tie-down strap for securing smaller items. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough space to tuck the parcel shelf under the boot floor if you need to remove it.
Ford Fiesta Active cars get raised suspension over the standard Fiesta that makes them more comfortable around town. Unfortunately, it does slightly blunt the Fiesta’s handling
Don’t be fooled by the Active’s chunky black bodykit – it’s no hardcore off-roader
You can get the Fiesta Active with four petrol engines and two diesels, but the stand-out performer is the 1.0-litre turbocharged EcoBoost petrol. Avoid the fairly weedy 85hp model on entry-level Active 1 cars and go for a 100hp or 125hp version instead. The former accelerates from 0-62mph in a modest 11.2 seconds, and return a claimed 56.5mpg – although you’ll see a figure closer to 45mpg in normal driving conditions. Go for a perkier 125hp version, and the Fiesta Active covers the same sprint in 10.4 seconds yet returns identical claimed fuel economy.
There’s also a more expensive 140hp variant that feels a little more at home on motorways, but it’s a bit thirstier and not much faster than the 125hp version. It’s only available in high-spec Active B&O Play and Active X models.
Then there’s a pair of diesels that you might want to consider if you do lots of very long motorway journeys, although they aren’t quite as responsive as the petrols and cost more to buy. Ford claims both versions will return close to 80mpg, but with a careful right foot you can expect to see a figure in the high sixties.
All Fiesta Active models come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard that’s light and precise to use. You can get an automatic gearbox instead, but only on 100hp petrol models. This isn’t as responsive as the auto you get in the Polo, and seems to suck some of the fun driving out of the Fiesta. Still, it will help give your left leg a rest in heavy traffic.
To help the Ford Fiesta Active live up to its rugged off-road looks, you get selectable driving modes to help it better deal with slippery road surfaces. Sure, it won’t turn this front-wheel-drive hatchback into a true 4×4, but it should make tackling a wet, leafy driveway a bit easier.
The Fiesta Active’s just as easy to drive as the standard Fiesta around town. You won’t have any trouble spotting traffic approaching at junctions and its small size and light steering make it a doddle to nip through gaps in traffic. It’s easy to park, too – especially if you go for a top-spec Active X car with parking sensors and a reversing camera.
All Active models come with suspension that’s raised 18mm over the standard Fiesta’s, which helps give you a slightly better view out. They also come with some special hydraulic suspension components that soften the blow of sudden jolts better than just conventional springs.
It doesn’t feel quite as nimble as the standard Fiesta and can’t match ST-Line models for sheer grin-inducing handling on a twisty country lane, but it’ll soak up a level crossings without breaking a sweat and feels just as comfortable on poorly maintained roads as the Citroen C3.
This also means it’s pretty comfortable on motorways, too – although you’ll hear quite a bit of wind and tyre noise at 70mph. You get cruise control on B&O Play and X models to give your right leg a rest on long drives, but not in entry-level Active 1 versions.
Other features missing from entry-level cars include traffic sign recognition, but regardless of which Active version you pick, you don’t get automatic emergency braking to help prevent low-speed collisions as standard. It’s only available as part of an optional Driver Assistance pack – a £200 extra on B&O Play and X models, and a whopping £800 option on Active 1 cars.
Despite this the Fiesta – on which the Active is based – scored an impressive five-star safety rating in the tough 2017 Euro NCAP safety tests.
Everything in the Fiesta Active’s cabin is exactly where you expect to find it and the infotainment screen’s reasonably easy to use, but a larger eight-inch display costs extra