Bowen's Report Card
2021 Ford Active Focus review
- Fun drive
- Feels solid
- Excellent safety features
- It's not an SUV
- The hatch makes more sense
- Deceptive drive modes
THE BOWEN SCORE
These days it doesn’t matter if you’re a Martha or an Arthur, or a combination of both. If you’re suffering from an identity crisis, I’m down with that. However, my morals do not extend to car categories. I’ve just had two weeks in the 2021 Ford Focus Active. The spin doctors suggest it has “SUV-inspired styling and driving dynamics”. This is when I really need to put a tablet under my tongue. Alas, let’s take a look.
The Ford Focus Active scores the latest 1.5L three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine. It produces 134kW at 6000rpm and 240Nm between 1750-5000rpm. It’s hitched to an eight-speed automatic and includes paddle shifters. This is a fantastic little unit with perky performance and an inherent ability to “have a crack”.
The Active is a five-door hatchback that sits a tad higher than a regular Focus. The “SUV-inspired styling” extends to an extra 34mm of ground clearance. It therefore sticks its head up like an Emu in the Woollies carpark, should you ever develop carpark amnesia. Further bush bashing elements include front and rear skid plate thingamajigs, with lashings of silver trim.
Unique bumpers, flashy LED Daytime Running Lights and twin exhaust-pipes also add to the occasion.
Now here comes the inevitable drive modes, there’s the usual Normal, Eco and Sport. I’m more interested in the Focus Active exclusive Slippery and Trail programs.
These are direct quotes from Ford Australia:
“Slippery Mode is designed to bring increased confidence on surfaces with reduced grip such as snow and ice”.
“Trail Mode is intended to help maintain momentum on soft, deformable surfaces like a sandy beach or powdery dirt road”.
These are merely enhancements to the standard traction control system, transmission and engine performance.
If you take a Ford Focus Active onto a beach, please send me the evidence.
Our test car featured a design pack that adds 18-inch alloys, glass roof, adaptive LED headlights and auto high-beam. Just thinking out loud now, I’d think those bigger rims will lower the ride height a tad. There goes that trip to Cape York.
Of course, all of the above is severe sarcasm, although I’d like to think it conveys my message.
This is not an SUV. In fact on Ford’s own website it doesn’t even fall under the SUV tab.
Putting all that to one side, I can faithly report this is a very well sorted drive. Despite the slightly higher centre of gravity, it still craves for corners like that first vape* of the day, minus the smoke.
It is almost as entertaining as say a BMW X2.
The steering is predictable and the ride remains very composed on all types of surfaces.
*I don’t vape.
The interior is still very Ford, it even smells like a Ford. Sidenote many brands employ “Odour Assessors” to ensure the concoction of many materials remains pleasant for your hooter.
One more sidenote, do not Google “New car smell”. If what just took 30 minutes of my life is correct, well I may leave this mortal coil earlier than hoped.
The dash is nicely presented plus the Focus platform allows for a larger cabin. The translucent roof blind adds to that, although on a 40-degree day I’m still not convinced the tint and blind is adequate protection.
Thankfully there’s dual-zone climate control. The seats are a bit of a mishmash of materials, with harder wearing cloth that is and feels heavily textured.
What I Love
My near four-year old Henry is a long way off driving, thank goodness. However, Ford offers a “MyKey”, it can be programmed to stop incoming calls, set a top speed, keep the sound system at non-Snoop Dog levels and actually disable it if someone is not wearing a seatbelt.
That would lower my stress levels a tad when the time comes. It will also be joined by my intended vast array of GPS trackers and Black Hawk style helicopter parenting.
Technology and Safety
The Ford Focus Active scores a wireless phone charger. Although as is often the case, it will remain redundant because Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not wireless in the Focus.
Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system is above average, but the only time I would use it is to adjust the base. In another life I was Snoop Dog, or some shot-up gangster.
It blends in well with the third-party systems for a seamless connected drive.
Driver assist technology is present in spades. Just this week I attended a Mercedes-Benz drive day, a day that saw me and others drive the range like you were a prison escapee. Many of the following safety features are found in Mercs worth well north of $100,000.
The Focus Active scores a 180-degree reversing camera, vital for picking up a child for example. Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist Detection is also fitted.
Then we have Pre-Collision, Forward Collision Warning, Dynamic Brake Support and Emergency Brake Light Flashing. These systems can save your life and that of others.
Other autonomous systems include a Lane Keeping Aid with Land Departure Warning. There’s the option to really wind up the microchip support with Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Stop & Go, as well as Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCA) and Active Braking.
All this may sound tedious and frankly it is when writing a review. However, you need to seriously consider and research these systems. Ultimately you are in control of the car, fully autonomous cars are years away. But the fact remains that we’re human, we make mistakes. The Ford Focus active offers a great safety net.
Value For Money
The 2021 Ford Focus Active starts at $29,990 before on-roads. An extra $2000 gives you the panoramic glass roof, $1250 for the driver-assist package and $650 for prestige paint. Claimed fuel economy is rated at 6.4L/100km. We managed 7.3L/100km over two weeks and 605km of driving.
The Ford Focus Active is covered by a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.
Bowen’s Report Card
There’s no need for a total pile on when it comes to the Ford Focus Active. I just think it’s a rather confusing addition to the range. Plus, the added extras such as ride height and driving modes seem superfluous to me. Anyway I was still rather fond of the Focus Active, it looks great and has a cheerful and fun demeanour about it. It’s a 82 out of 100 from me.