2018 Ford Fiesta Active first drive: Compact high-rise

It’d be easy to be quite snobbish about the Fiesta Active and its pseudo off-road plastic cladding since this is, after all, a front-wheel drive supermini – not a ‘proper’ four-wheel drive micro-SUV along the lines of the Fiat Panda 4x4 and Suzuki Ignis AllGrip.

But then, how many customers want a car that’s cheap and easy 90% of the time, but will also go up an un-paved, heavily potholed access road, or an urban maze of endless speed bumps, without fearing that wince-inducing graunch of metal-meets-road? Quite a lot, no doubt. 

So that’s the purpose of the Ford Fiesta Active - let’s find out if it achieves it.

2018 Ford Fiesta Active
2018 Ford Fiesta Active

First impressions 

The five-door only Fiesta Active is almost a model in its own right, with three trims to choose from and a spread of engines including all the variants of the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol, as well as a 1.5-litre diesel in two power outputs.

It’s easy to spot; You can’t miss that contrast black plastic cladding and a ride raised by 18mm over the standard Fiesta, while 17-inch alloys and roof rails complete the outdoorsy look. Inside is notable for the coloured upholstery inserts you can have and the heavily bolstered seats. The driving position is slightly raised, which might be useful for the less dexterous amongst us, but it's a minor enough change that the Fiesta still feels like a normal small car. 

2018 Ford Fiesta Active

Even bog-standard Fiesta Active models get air-con and a touchscreen with DAB radio, as well as selectable drive modes including Eco, Normal and Sli...