Ford has introduced its new Focus Active – a high-riding, rugged-looking version of its family hatchback.

Designed to rival the Skoda Octavia Scout, Volvo V40 Cross Country and VW Golf AllTrack, the Focus Active will be available in hatchback and estate guises.

All will come with tough-looking plastic body cladding, front and rear skid plates and unique alloy wheel designs, while the interior gets model-specific blue seat stitching.

The car is also marked out by it slightly raised ride height (up 30 mm on the standard car), which gives it a modicum of extra rough-road capability. A couple of extra electronic gizmos also help in this regard, with the Slippery and Trail modes added to the car’s selectable drive modes.

As the names suggest, the two settings are designed for off-road use, with Slippery aimed at muddy or snowy surfaces, while trail mode is designed to work on soft or sandy surfaces, allowing extra wheel spin to claw the car free of trouble.

Despite all this, though, the Focus Active will not be available with four-wheel drive.

Ford Focus Active wagon

Because of the added off-road credentials, Ford has had to change the car’s suspension, fitting new springs and dampers in a bid to retain the standard car’s fabled dynamic capabilities despite the added height and weight.

Ford is adamant, though, that its changes have worked. According to the company’s PR department, the car strikes a “desirable balance” in front and rear suspension softness.

Ford Focus Active wagon

Under the bonnet, however, changes are less apparent. The Active gets the same range of 1-, 1.5- and 2-litre petrol and diesel engines, with power outputs of up to 180 bhp from the 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine.

Customers get a choice of gearboxes, too, with a six-speed manual and an eight-speed automatic on offer.

Ford Focus Active wagon

There’s also a range of driver assistance features available, including adaptive cruise control, which maintains a safe distance to the car in front and a parking assistance system which can, in automatic models, park itself entirely independently, although the driver must remain alert.

Other features include a head-up display that shows speed and navigation information on a small, transparent panel in front of the windscreen and an adaptive lighting system that uses a camera to predict bends in the road and directs the headlights towards them.

Ford Focus Active wagon

Ford of Europe’s vice-president for marketing, sales and service, Roelant de Waard, said the new Focus Active was an SUV-style car built for adventurous families wanting more off-road ability from their Focus.

“Our Active family of crossover models offers a further compelling SUV-style option for customers,” he said. “The all-new Focus Active does more than just look the part – its bespoke chassis and new Selectable Drive Mode options deliver genuine rough-road capability for families who want to explore off the beaten track.”

UK prices and specifications have not yet been revealed, but an announcement is expected when the car goes on sale.

Gallery: Ford Focus Active wagon