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REVIEW – Ford Fiesta Active B&O Play

Editor-in-chief, Senior Reviewer


Ford Fiesta Active B&O Play 1.0 EcoBoost 100PS PowerShift
  • Exterior Styling
  • Interior Finish
  • Engine / Performance
  • Ride / Handling
  • Economy
  • Practicality
  • Equipment
  • Value For Money
3.5

Summary

As one of Britain’s best-selling cars, it’s not easy for a Ford Fiesta to stand out. That’s where the Fiesta Active comes in, with its bold, rugged appearance. In truth, the merits of the Fiesta Active are mostly visual. Sure, it rides 20mm higher than the standard car and has an electronic front differential of sorts, but this is not a car that would cross a muddy field and ford a river. It’s also a little bit pricey: you’re getting into ST territory…


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Exterior Styling

Having been around since 1976, the Ford Fiesta has undergone many a restyling. It has to be said that the latest of these is one of the most radical yet.

That’s no bad thing: this latest Fiesta looks fantastic, taking the basic shape of the previous model and smoothing the lines. It look sleeker for it.

Then we come to the Ford Fiesta Active. Riding higher than the standard car, it has a much more rugged appearance.

Our test car was finished in Frozen White, which highlighted the stark contrast to the black plastic side skirts and lower bumper trims. We’ll come on to the actual merit of the ruggedness later, but we think this model looks fantastic.

The 17-inch two-tone alloy wheels are not what you’d call rugged. Great for kerb appeal, but not so suited to a farm track.

The LED daytime running lights follow the line of the headlight, almost full-circle. They are incredibly distinct, making the car instantly recognisable as a Ford Fiesta.

Looking at the Fiesta Active sideways-on, you can see that it rides higher than the standard car. 20mm higher in fact. Black mirrors, window surrounds and roof rails add further contrast to the body colour. The roof is also finished in black.

The rear end of the Fiesta Active is, in many ways, sleek and smooth. The bumper lines are soft. And then, in stark contrast, there’s a black number plate surround. We were unsure of this at first, but grew to like it.

When you consider that the Ford Fiesta is one of the most popular cars in Britain, it’s easy to stop noticing them. Now though, with the Fiesta Active, you can stand out from the Fiesta crowd.

Interior Finish

Upon opening the door and clambering inside the Fiesta Active, it was a pleasant surprise to see an interior as bold as the exterior.

The first thing you notice is the yellow colour theme. It features on the seats, dashboard, door cards and centre air vents. This, and the lighter grey fabric on the seats, makes a refreshing change from a sea of black. Being light and airy also makes the cabin feel bigger.

On first glance, the finishing trim appears to be gloss black. Look a little closer and you’ll notice the carbon-effect pattern. It’s convincing enough for us, and looks great. Furthermore, it gives the Fiesta Active a dynamic edge to its interior.

Having owned the previous Ford Fiesta, it was nice to see the cabin move on in terms of quality and finish. The interior on the Fiesta Active is leaps and bounds ahead of the last car.

The multimedia screen is now ‘placed’ on top of the dashboard, as is currently trendy. It is now a touchscreen for added functionality. Despite being larger than before, it feels less cumbersome.

Whilst there are no signs of a digital instrument cluster just yet, the dials are crisp and clear; creating a focal point for the driver.

The seats in the Fiesta Active are slightly bolstered, bearing an ‘A’ (for Active) on the backrest. Contrast white and yellow stitching is especially effective.

On the whole, the quality of materials in the Fiesta Active is high. There are, in very few areas, elements of scratchy plastics. But they are not prominent areas, so they do not cause major offence.

Engine/Performance

Since it was first introduced, Ford’s 1.0-litre EcoBoost has been an astounding success. So it was no surprise that our Fiesta Active test car was equipped with one.

It was the 100PS version, with 170Nm of torque. While there are also 125PS and 140PS versions, only the 100PS is available as an automatic.

Called the PowerShift, it’s a 6-speed dual-clutch setup. The 0-62mph time is 12.2 seconds, and the top speed is 112mph. That’s not especially quick, and without a manual gearbox to engage the driver, it doesn’t even feel nippy.

The PowerShift doesn’t feel that slick either. In manual mode it doesn’t feel nearly responsive enough, and the changes themselves aren’t exactly seamless. For a dual-clutch gearbox that’s disappointing, and rivals with a DSG box (like the Seat Ibiza or Skoda Fabia) will fare better.

The engine itself is great. For the most part it goes bout its business quietly and effectively. Explore the upper end of the rev range and a familiar 3-cylinder strum can be heard.

Although not especially fast from a standing start, the 1.0 EcoBoost is competent enough. It’s comfortable at motorway speeds, only struggling up steep inclines.

With just 100PS, you don’t often struggle to be able to put it all down, whatever the weather. Nonetheless, true to the Fiesta Active concept, the car comes with a ‘slippery’ drive mode. This is useful for severe rain, and the one day a year the UK gets a snow flurry.

Ride/Handling

To give the Fiesta Active credibility as an urban crossover – or whatever the current trendy term is for a family supermini on stilts – Ford has raised the ride height by 20mm.

The result is a car that looks more capable than the standard model. Whether that 20mm makes any difference in the real world is doubtful. Nor will it matter: I highly suspect many Fiesta Actives will never be near a field, let alone in one.

The problem is that when you raise a car’s ride height, it has an adverse effect on cornering ability. This is most certainly noticeable on the Fiesta Active. There is a fair amount of lean if you corner at speed.

From behind the wheel, you’ll be grateful for the slightly-bucketed seats. The severity of the pitch also highlights the directness of the steering. It’s nicely weighted, allowing you to turn-in with pin-point accuracy.

The suspension is finely balanced. The Fiesta Active is comfortable on the motorway, and absorbs bumps well.

Essentially, the only thing spoiling the party is the increased ride height. It causes problems and, realistically, most people will never get a benefit from it.

There is a simple solution: slow down for the corners. If you want those G-force thrills, get yourself a Fiesta ST.

Economy

Ford designed the EcoBoost engine to be a fine balance of performance and efficiency. But in this particular car both aspects leave a little to be desired.

The combined fuel consumption figures are 40.4mpg under the WLTP regime. But if you don’t do any longer drives – mostly pottering around town – then you can expect a figure in the mid 30’s.

In all honesty, that’s not good enough. Hell, a Fiesta ST can return those kind of figures. And it’s not like Ford has done everything in its power to make the Fiesta Active as efficient as possible.

Yes, it has start/stop technology. And being a dual-clutch setup, the PowerShift gearbox should be efficient too.

But Ford could have done more. The only drive modes available are ‘normal’ and ‘slippery’. What about an ‘Eco’? Lessen the throttle response and encourage the gearbox to upshift earlier. Simple.

CO2 emissions are 138g/km, again on the WLTP cycle. First year road tax is £205 and £140 thereafter. The costs can’t be complained about, but then consider this: The 1.5-litre EcoBoost in the new Fiesta ST emits 136g/km.

This would seem to suggest that the PowerShift automatic gearbox is not all that efficient. Which is as disappointing as it is surprising.

Practicality

In recent years, we’ve been spoiled by cars getting better and better. In fact, we’re at a time where there aren’t really ‘bad’ cars anymore. As a result we expect more from a car than ever before.

So despite being a small hatchback, anyone buying a Fiesta Active will expect it to be all the family car they need.

For the most part, it won’t disappoint. The Fiesta Active is strictly 5-door only, meaning access to the rear seats is possible for adults.

That being said, the rear legroom is not the most generous. Taller adults may not find it particularly comfortable on a long drive. But for the Fiesta Active as a family car, let’s assume it will be mostly kids in the back. No issues.

Travelling with kids, as any parent will tell you, requires a large boot. The Fiesta Active fares reasonably well in this aspect too. With 311 litres of boot space you should be able to get a buggy, lunch bag, toy bag and coat in there no problem.

The Fiesta Active sits around 20mm taller than the standard car. From a practicality perspective that doesn’t exactly elevate the driving position. Nor is it likely to mean you can traverse a path you would otherwise get stuck on.

But the ‘slippery’ drive mode does have a use. In snow/ice – or extreme wet for that matter – it gives you confidence to know the car is looking out for you.

We did get to test it, briefly, during a cold spell with a small flurry of snow. The slippery drive mode worked well, and from behind the wheel there was no drama.

Equipment

The ‘basic’ model in the Fiesta range is now the Zetec. And the standard specification for the range is certainly better than the previous model.

All cars now get what is called the ‘NCAP Pack’. This shamelessly-named set of kit helps the Fiesta achieve a five star rating in the newer, more stringent NCAP test. The pack comprises lane keeping alert and aid, speed limiter, rear seatbelt minder, rear centre headrest and auto-headlamps.

The revered Quickclear heated front windscreen is also standard across the range, as are LED daytime running lights, 8-inch touchscreen multimedia system, Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) with hill start assist, air conditioning and Ford’s MyKey system.

The Fiesta Active B&O Play builds on this specification. In addition to the styling cues of black contrast, 17-inch alloy wheels and yellow interior colour theme, the Active B&O adds further creature comforts.

Most noteworthy is the B&O Premium Audio System. It’s a 360-degree sound system with 10 speakers. This includes a tweeter on top of the dash, and a subwoofer in the boot. It produces amazing sound quality, and makes you want to crank up your favourite tunes.

The Fiesta Active B&O Play also has cruise control, traffic sign recognition, auto high beam, rain sensing wipers and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.

If you’re looking at this and thinking you may want a little more, then don’t worry. There are a few options that can be chosen, including Ford’s KeyFree system, door edge protectors, full-LED headlamps and several convenience packs.

On the whole, the Active B&O Play is finely balanced. The standard specification is certainly sufficient, but it can be bolstered with specific extras that may appeal to you.

Value For Money

Finally we come to price. The cheapest Ford Fiesta is the 1.1-litre Zetec, at £15,665 on the road. The cheapest Fiesta Active B&O Play is the 1.0-litre EcoBoost manual, costing £19,445 OTR.

The automatic version costs £1,450 more. Honestly, it’s hard to recommend it on that basis. Unless you can only drive an automatic, you’d be better off putting the money into other things. You could go for more power (the 140PS manual is £20,245 OTR) or you could choose a few extras.

Ford has been relatively fair in the pricing of its options. There are none that stand out as obscenely expensive. The openable panoramic roof is only £650, for example.

The down side to this is that you can soon stack up a few options. They may be fairly priced individually, but collectively they will add up. Take our test car, which featured almost £2,500 of extras.

That pushed the price of our car up to £23,345 and, I’m sorry, that’s simply too much. It is no longer a reasonably-priced family car at that level. In fact, you could go for a bigger, more generously-equipped Kia Ceed at that level, and you wouldn’t be disappointed.

But even sticking to Ford, a 5-door Fiesta ST-2 starts at £21,145. Every bit as practical as the Active B&O Play, but a whole lot more fun. And despite the Active looking nice, park it next to an ST and you know which one people will be looking at…

If you do want a Fiesta Active – and there are plenty of reasons to – stick to a manual and save yourself £1,450. Simple.

Facts and Figures

Engine 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Max power 100PS at 6,500rpm
Max torque 170Nm at 1,500rpm
Drivetrain 6-speed PowerShift automatic gearbox, front-wheel drive
0-62mph 12.2 seconds
Top speed 112mph
Fuel tank size 42 litres
Fuel consumption 40.4 mpg WLTP
CO2 emissions 138 g/km WLTP
Kerb weight 1,221 kg
Towing capacity 1,000kg braked / 640kg unbraked
Luggage capacity 311 litres
NCAP rating 5 stars
Base price £20,895
Price as tested £23,345
Company website www.ford.co.uk/cars/new-fiesta/models-specs/active

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