The Fiesta Active is a simple idea, and how sensible it seems.
It’s a Fiesta, basically, with all the four-and-a-half-star goodness that entails — only, in this Active form, it rides 18mm higher and has a bit of cladding around the outside to make it look more rufty-tufty. Like a jelly baby wearing walking boots. Suspension is modified to suit and the tracks are 10mm wider and tyre profiles tend to be a little higher.
The thinking is that if you don’t want a small SUV or crossover — and why would you? — you can have a car that’s a bit easier to get in and out of than a normal Fiesta, but will run up and down kerbs, in and out of potholes and on and off gravelly car parks and tracks without making you wince, and you don’t have to put up with a tall, poor-handling, inefficient ‘proper’ small SUV.
Tick the right boxes and there’s a more hard-wearing interior fabric. There’s no four-wheel drive option, there are drive modes that change the stability programme not to give you grip where none exists but to allow a bit more slip on gravelly tracks. You can have a 1.0-litre triple petrol or 1.5-litre diesel engine.
It’s the first of a few of these halfway-to-crossover models (which are probably halfway-to-halfway-to-SUVs) that Ford is introducing. You’ll be able to get an Active model of the new Focus and the Ka+, too. Ford reckons up to 15% of Fiesta buyers will choose the Active.
I always did think the Rover Streetwise was ahead of its time.
How does the Active differ from the regular Fiesta?
It's taller. But only by the width of your thumb.
Which is, truth be told, only as much taller as you’d want a Fiesta to be, because it gives you the confidence to just drop off a road onto a gravelly lay-by or a bumpy bit of asphalt without you having to worry about smacking the chassis onto the ground.
There’s quite a sense of liberation about driving a car like that — and I’m convinced that’s one of the reasons for the ever-expanding popularity of SUVs.
There’s a sense of security and imperviousness to a proper 4x4, which the Active doesn’t quite replicate, obviously, but it gets you a small part of the way there: to a puddle and pothole-strewn car park from where you walk the dogs or, if your lifestyle replicates the advertising campaigns, go kitesurfing or mountain biking. Or it just makes it easier to get in and out in the GP surgery car park (a scenario that mysteriously never makes the brochures).