Ford Focus Active 2019: First drive review

Silver ford focus active parked overlooking the coast line

Greg Hill

Posted June 13, 2019

Greg Hill takes the SUV-inspired Ford Focus Active for a launch drive. 

First impressions:

The Active slots neatly into the Ford Focus range. It will suit buyers looking for a practical five-door hatchback that’s an enjoyable drive for everyday use with a slightly elevated driving position and a little more ability when conditions get tougher.

Interior of Ford Focus Active


The new Active, as its name suggests, adds a more adventurous look and driving feel to the Ford Focus range. It is an SUV-inspired, higher-riding five-door hatchback, rather than a serious off-roading SUV.

Based on the latest-generation, German-manufactured Focus hatchback, which was introduced late last year, the Active uses Ford’s all-new C2 global platform. It is still front-wheel drive only, but for the Active, the suspension has been raised to provide 34 millimetres’ extra ground clearance and Ford employs a more sophisticated independent multi-link rear suspension setup.  

In addition to the three selectable drive modes – Normal, Eco and Sport – in the standard Focus, the Active gets two extra modes – Slippery and Trail. Using the electronics to further regulate the throttle response and traction control, ‘Slippery’ is designed to increase confidence on ice and snow, while ‘Trail’ helps maintain momentum on soft surfaces such as a sandy beach or powdery dirt road.   

Active has also been dressed up for the role, with front and rear skid plates, distinctive wheel arches and unique bumpers emphasising the SUV image. The interior’s distinguishing features include seat trim embroidery, blue stitching on the seats, steering wheel, dashboard and doors, as well as unique Active scuff plates. 

Then of course there are the practical aspects that drivers love about SUVs – the increased ride height makes access easier and gives a more commanding view of the road ahead. In the Active, these aspects are a step up from a conventional small hatch but not as noticeable as in many of the purpose-built SUV wagons. 

Priced at $29,990 plus on-road costs, the Active sits in the middle of Ford Australia’s five-variant Focus line-up. Active’s equipment level is similar to the ST-Line hatch with a comprehensive suite of ‘Driver Assist Technology’ and safety features. Wireless phone charging complements Ford’s easy-to-use Sync 3 communication and entertainment system. The $1250 optional Driver Assistance Pack, with more worthwhile safety features, is also worth considering.


Front view of Ford Focus driving on road


The trim is neat but not class leading, while the instrumentation and controls have a typical Ford appearance and functionality. Using the console-mounted rotary-dial gear selector, rather than a conventional lever, however, can be awkward at first and may take some familiarisation.

Sharing Ford’s latest-generation, three-cylinder, 1.5-litre EcoBoost direct-injected turbo-charged engine with the other variants in the Focus line-up, the Active’s performance is impressive for this type of vehicle. 

Driveability benefits the engine’s broad spread of strong torque (240Nm at 1750 through to 5000rpm) and a responsive eight-speed automatic. Under light-load operating conditions, such as highway cruising, when torque demands are low, the Focus EcoBoost engine seamlessly de-activates one cylinder for better fuel economy. 

Official ADR fuel consumption is a handy 6.4L/100km but it is worth noting that a minimum 95 RON premium-grade petrol is required.  

Winding and at times patchy back-roads between Coolangatta and Byron Bay showed that the Active’s increased ride height and revised suspension have not detracted from the Focus’ surefooted cornering ability and sharp handling, but the thumping over bumps highlighted the setup’s firmness. 

While the Active’s off-road features assist in adverse conditions they don’t transform the car into a thrill-seeking SUV. A little care is needed not to overestimate the car or driver’s ability.


2019 Ford Focus Active


Price as tested: $29,990 plus $4193.

Model range: $25,990 to $34,490 (plus on-road costs).


Engine: 1.5-litre EcoBoost (turbo), eight-speed automatic, front-wheel drive.

Power: 134kW@6000rpm.

Torque: 240Nm@1750 to 5000rpm. 

Tyres: 215/55 R17.


Fuel: 95 RON premium petrol, 52-litre tank.

Consumption: 6.4L/100km (government test).

CO2 emissions: 148g/km.


Five-star ANCAP rating, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping aid, post-impact braking, traffic sign recognition.


Sync3 infotainment with voice activation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless phone charging, 8.0-inch colour screen, satellite navigation, reversing camera, climate control, electric park brake, front fog lights, paddle shifters.


Five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, capped-price servicing every 12 months or 15,000 kilometres.

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