Impartial Reviews

Ford Fiesta Active X 140PS review
23 April 2019 by Oliver Hammond
Venture into a village pub for the first time and the usual procession of flash Harrys, aloof people of power and country types will typically be encountered or overheard, but it can often turn out to be someone relatively quiet and plain whose company makes the evening go by in a flash, a deflated feeling developing when parting company at last orders. That’s how we felt after spending a week with a Ford Fiesta Active X with the 140bhp version of the blue oval’s charming 1-litre, 3-cylinder EcoBoost petrol engine at its heart.

How is the Ford Fiesta Active different?

Think of it like any other 5-door Fiesta hatchback but sporting ankle-high welly boots and standing on tip-top. Okay, being pedantic, it’s a mini-SUV crossover, the very thought of which makes some people gag in today’s market flooded with them, but the Fiesta standing just a modest 18mm taller than its siblings is actually a ruddy good idea considering what utter tripe many of the UK’s roads and car parks are.

Charges are made for certain kinds of damage at the end of car leasing contracts, so the Fiesta Active’s extra ground clearance takes away a lot of the worry over pothole-strewn car parks in the countryside where you might take your dogs, when driving up a higgledy-piggledy farm track en route to an animal petting place with the grandkids, or when it’s snowing and you’ve got an appointment with the doctor.

The Fiesta Active X tries just hard enough but doesn’t look silly like some other dinky SUV-wannabees, the adventurous Ford getting the balance right with plastic cladding on all sides, really nice 17-inch alloys, faux chrome under-protection here and there, silver roof rails, plus classy LED front running lights and rear clusters.

What is the Ford Fiesta Active X’s interior like?

Ford’s been seriously improving its models’ interiors of late, upping their poshness and stuffing them with a meze of all the hottest tech’ on the block. We were impressed with the new Ford Focus’ innards when we spent a week with one earlier this year and are glad to report that the Fiesta Active, at least in top-of-the-range X trim, seems equally well put together indeed, is comfortable, stylish and fitted with everything a typical driver will ever need.

Active X trim interior highlights are an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen that plays host to Ford’s very intuitive, crisp-looking and Android and Apple-compatible SYNC3 system which includes navigation, audio and a handy feature that reads out text messages. Then there’s keyless entry and start, folding and heated wing mirrors, puddle lights, a rear-view reversing camera and sensors, electronic automatic temperature control, and part-leather seats that look stylish and prove comfortable on long journeys. The 675-watt B&O premium surround audio system with 10 speakers sounds great, and Ford’s digital instrument display incorporates traffic sign recognition as standard through Active X trim, which even includes auto high-beam lights.

For a small hatchback, the Ford Fiesta Active X is almost laughably well-equipped and its interior is ergonomically excellent with easy to use controls including temperature. The only memorable gripe is that slotting the gearstick into reverse clashes space-wise with the conventionally-operated handbrake.

Is the Ford Fiesta Active big enough for adults in the back?

Relative to the car’s compact dimensions, it feels roomy enough in the front, but space in the back of the Fiesta Active isn’t as generous as in the SKODA Fabia, SEAT Ibiza and VW Polo posse, or even the similarly-minded Citroen C3 Aircross, but the Ford feels plusher than all but the Volkswagen. For families with two or three children or teenagers, the Fiesta Active X is fine, but anyone regularly carrying 2+ adults of average proportions in the back might think twice and test-drive one before plumping for a lease deal.

What is boot space like in the Ford Fiesta Active?

It’s equally a slight shame that an adjustable boot floor is a cost option for the Ford, and its 311-litre boot isn’t a patch on the C3 Aircross’ 410 litres or the VAG trio’s respective 350ish litres, so if out-and-out luggage space and practicality is a priority, the Ford is lacklustre, but does at least offer slightly more than its traditional arch enemy, the Vauxhall Corsa.

Does the Fiesta Active feel different to drive?

Hardly any differently to the normal Fiesta, which is a wholly good thing, as it really is true that Ford’s ever-popular supermini handles impressively. The ever so slightly jacked-up Active version retains the badge’s infamously precise steering and uncannily fine agility in sharp corners and the like, while the ‘road rough’ suspension as Ford calls it allows its sheer driving fun to be wrung even more keenly without any wincing and gritted teeth on the UK’s equally ‘road rough’ surfaces.

Compared to the standard Fiesta, Ford has tweaked the electric power steering and ESC systems specially for the Active version to boost comfort on poor terrains, the front shock absorbers have been redesigned to reduce the effects of jolts and bumps, and the suspension and springs feature revised geometry, the combined result being that the Fiesta Active can be chucked around corners in the trademark way but feels even more grippy and stable.

The Active’s engineering highlight is its selectable driving modes spanning Normal, Eco and Slippery, providing added grip on snow and ice by adjusting the car’s ESC, traction control, throttle and braking characteristics to help reduce wheel spin, maintain a straight course and handle more safely in corners.

The Fiesta has long been popular among all corners of car buying and leasing customers, from young drivers and the elderly to families with children, plus company pool car and short term rental solutions, and it’s easy to understand why, as Ford really didn’t need to make it this fun to drive – but we’re glad they continue to.

Safety equipment and features fitted as standard across the Fiesta range include intelligent protection system, emergency brake assist and warning, a lane-keeping alert and aid, and an adjustable speed limiter, and the car has been given a 5-star rating by Euro NCAP. It’s a shame, though, that autonomous emergency braking (AEB) is an optional extra, whereas the SEAT Ibiza, for example, comes with it.

Which Fiesta Active engine is best?

We road-tested the Ford Fiesta Active X with the 1-litre EcoBoost engine in 140PS petrol guise and found that it has sufficient power for motorway overtaking and driving on A-roads through hilly countryside with four adults inside. There are also 125PS and 100PS variants available, but the latter would probably struggle unless mainly used for town and rural driving with only a couple of people on board. The 140PS engine is smooth and quiet but has a lovely muted three-cylinder growl when accelerating, and the 6-speed manual gearbox is slick, each adding to the fun experience behind the wheel.

Company car drivers and fleet managers will pay a passing interest in the Active X’s CO2 emissions figure of 118g/km, while most other motorists will be more interested in its fuel consumption. Under the new and more realistic ‘WLTP’ tests, the Active X is said to be good for 46-to-49mpg give or take, and we averaged just shy of this, so it is indeed an economical car, better on paper than the closest comparable C3 Aircross and around the same as the forthcoming VW T-Cross of a similar ethos.

Summing up the Ford Fiesta Active X 140PS

With an exterior that blends cute, sophisticated and rugged, an interior stuffed full of technology and creature comforts, plus a fun and quite addictive driving experience combined with a refined but suitably peppy and thrifty engine, we really didn’t want to hand the Active X back after its week with us. It’s not the most spacious small hatchback, the most practical in outright boot space or the cheapest with an OTR price knocking on the door of £23,000 as-tested, but in all other ways it’s relatively hard to fault. Ford Fiesta lease deals from Car Leasing People currently kick off at under £200 per month including VAT, with the 140PS Active X around the £265 mark. The Fiesta has grown up so much but will still put that synonymous smile on your face. 
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