THE Ford Fiesta - which is now something of a modern British motoring icon - continues to go from strength to strength.

Its purposeful and distinctive looks are backed up by engaging driving dynamics.

As with many of its predecessors, the steering on the current generation Fiesta is direct and well-weighted, while the suspension and general set-up of the car has a hint of sportiness without completely neglecting comfort.

With the Fiesta being such a sales success, it’s not surprising that Ford felt it could further widen its appeal through the introduction of the jacked-up Fiesta Active, tested here.


Riding 18mm higher than the standard Fiesta, this SUV-inspired supermini has been given a more robust look, while three selectable drive modes include a new ‘Slippery’ setting.

The suspension has been retuned, with the hydraulic rebound stops designed to produce a better ride over the rougher roads this car may be expected to encounter.

Visually, the rough and ready makeover includes roof rails, which come as standard, along with a fresh grille and new 17-inch alloy wheels.

Meanwhile, the bumpers, wheel arches and sills are covered in black protective cladding.

When the more muscular version of the Fiesta arrived, I was concerned it might have lost some of the sharp driving dynamics that make the normal car so appealing.

While there’s undoubtedly a bit more body roll to be aware of on the Active version when cornering, many of the Fiesta’s other qualities have transferred quite nicely.

The real high point is to be found under the bonnet.

The three-cylinder petrol engine may only be 1.0-litre in size, but turbocharging allows it to better the performance of many vehicles in the 1.5-litre bracket.

The 125PS version, tested here, revs smoothly and can get to 62mph in just over 10 seconds, while returning average fuel economy of over 55mpg and emissions of 113g/km.

That makes it peppy enough for a spot of driver enjoyment, but economical enough to live with quite comfortably when it comes to running costs.

The six-speed gearbox enhances the driving fun thanks to its precise and light nature.

In terms of handling, the Fiesta boasts tremendous agility, helped by sharp turn-in.

There are three versions of the new model, named Active 1, Active B&O Play and the range-topping Active X, tested here.

Inside, the cabin is unfussy with a well laid-out dash, including intuitive placing of the controls.

A notable change in the cabin of the Active is to the surfaces, which now consist of more hard-wearing fabrics, perhaps designed to stand up to the lifestyles of adventurous, outdoors types.

Meanwhile, the Active X version gets partial leather trim.

The Sync3 connectivity system comes as standard on all models, with a six-inch or eight-inch screen depends available depending on which model chosen.

Sync3 is an impressive piece of tech and includes DAB radio and smartphone compatibility as well as voice-activated commands.

My test car’s ‘silver fox’ colour-scheme proved divisive during my week in the car’s company.

I thought it looked moody and purposeful, but the Telegraph & Argus’ chief photographer inquired as to when the final coat of paint would be applied, insinuating that it was wearing grey primer.

It’s fair to conclude that, with the new Ford Fiesta Active, the company has done a decent job of adding SUV style and raising the ride height without spoiling the Fiesta’s handling.

The more cynical observer might ask why Ford deemed it necessary to turn its Fiesta into a faux SUV but, let’s face it, the country’s seemingly insatiable appetite for crossover vehicles shows no sign of abating, so why not?

In that light, it’s a car that will attract plenty of buyers who want to be part of the SUV vibe, but don’t fancy the weight or cost that comes with it.

Ford Fiesta 1.0I Active X E/Boost 5DR 125PS

PRICE: £18,850 on the road

ENGINE: 998cc three-cylinder petrol

PERFORMANCE: 0-62mph in 10.4 seconds and max speed of 121mph

TRANSMISSION: Six-speed manual, front wheel drive

ECONOMY: 56.5mpg and emissions of 113g/km