will excellent dynamics make it a surprise hit?

It’s slightly stiffer than a standard Fiesta, but that’s not a bad thing, and the additional but well-controlled body roll makes it easy to drive and feel your way through corners, particularly with the sensitive and well-weighted steering.

There’s no great weight penalty with the diesel, but its better fuel consumption (58.9mpg EU Combined in top 118bhp form compared with 44.8mpg for the top 138bhp petrol turbo) doesn’t justify its vibrations and more ponderous driving experience.

The 138bhp petrol is peppy, good fun and delivered about 39mpg on the test route through suburban parts of the French Var province.

Most buyers, though, will go for the 99bhp and 123bhp versions of this engine, but will still enjoy the spritely ride and handling.

One Ford PR said, “It’s a bit of a sleeper” when I expressed my surprise at how nice it was to drive. After Ford’s lacklustre performance in this market (EcoSport, anyone?), the Active’s is an assured debut, which builds on the company’s dynamic expertise.

There’s no more room in it than a standard Fiesta and it costs more, but I reckon the Active will prove a surprising – if slightly confusing – hit.

THE FACTS

Ford Fiesta Active X EcoBoost 140

TESTED 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol, six-speed manual gearbox, front-wheel drive

PRICE/ON SALE £21,095/now 

POWER/TORQUE 138bhp @ 6,000rpm, 133lb ft @ 1,500rpm

TOP SPEED 124mph

ACCELERATION 0-62mph in 9.4sec

CO2 EMISSIONS 119g/km

FUEL ECONOMY 54.3mpg

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