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Ford Focus Active set to take on Subaru XV

Jacked-up Focus Active hatch, but not wagon, likely but still unconfirmed for Aus

Ford logo23 Jul 2018

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in FRANCE

FORD Australia will launch its first assault on the popular Subaru XV with the Focus Active, a high-riding crossover variant of the company’s upcoming small car.
 
While not yet officially confirmed, it is believed that the Focus Active will land in Australia sometime in the second quarter of next year, and will be positioned between the slow-selling EcoSport small SUV and Escape medium SUV, giving Ford a presence in the hotly contested mainstream small-SUV segment. 
 
Expect prices to shadow that of the XV, which stretches from about $28,000 to $35,000 before on-road costs.
 
Like the Impreza-based XV, the Focus Active is essentially a jacked-up C-segment five-door hatchback with styling flourishes to make it look more rugged. 
 
It gains 30mm extra ground clearance, a slightly different front-end styling treatment, black wheelarch and rocker claddings, and front and rear skid plates differentiating it from the regular Focus equivalent.
 
Unlike the Subaru, however, the German-made Focus Active will remain a front-wheel drive prospect for now, as Ford is yet to reveal any all-wheel-drive variants of the fourth-generation Focus.
 
Additionally, while a Focus Active wagon will be made available in other markets, Ford Australia has elected to sidestep that for the time being. It may be waiting for the AWD version to come on stream, giving the Blue Oval a credible competitor against the likes of the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack.
 
Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the SA-series Focus range in France last week, Ford Australia product communications manager Damion Smy admitted that all Focus Active variants were under consideration for this market.
 
“Nothing has been decided as yet… but the Active could be a very attractive proposition for Australian buyers,” he said. “It's the kind of product that will open up Focus to a new and broader audience.”
 
As with the rest of the line-up, the Active will be motivated by a variation of the newly-developed 134kW/240Nm 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, mated exclusively to an in-house eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission. 
 
The same powertrain – but with the availability of a six-speed manual gearbox as well – will also be found in the sporty ST-Line wagon, which brings a 10mm drop in ground clearance compared to the regular Focus wagon’s 134mm.
 
Ford’s European arm has high hopes for the Active, which starts its rollout there in the final quarter of this year, especially the wagon as the bodystyle has experienced an increase in sales, despite the unrelenting popularity of SUVs. 
 
Interestingly, the Active will also be the only fourth-gen Focus slated for North America, and it will be imported from China for that market.
 
Ford Australia sorely needs a popular crossover or small SUV, as EcoSport sales are down a hefty 27.4 per cent year on year in a segment that has lifted by more than 30 per cent, despite a facelift bringing significant improvements late last year. 
 
Meanwhile the Escape continues to also underperform, maintaining its minuscule 2.8 per cent market share in a segment that is up 10 per cent over the same period. 

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