COLOGNE, Germany -- Ford will roll out SUV-styled variants of its cars under the label Active to attract customers looking for high-riding vehicles.
The new Fiesta will be the first Ford to have an Active variant with a raised ride height, roof bars and additional cladding. Other Active variants will be launched over the next few years, Ford said.
Ford of Europe's product development chief, Joe Bakaj, said people are buying crossovers and SUVs because they like the design so the automaker is responding to market demand. "We came to the conclusion that for many people this is their idea of a stylish Fiesta," he said today at the unveiling of the latest-generation Fiesta at Ford's European headquarters here.
Crossover styling is typically more popular for larger vehicles than subcompact cars but previous examples in the segment have included the Rover 25 Streetwise and the Citroen C3 XTR.
Ford hinted that it was planning rugged versions of its core cars in Europe such as the Fiesta, Focus and Mondeo earlier this year. "We see a big growth area in vehicles that are a bit rugged. They're not SUVs but they still have this more active look to them," Ford of Europe's former chief operating officer, Barb Samarzdich, told Automotive News Europe in March.
The style was popularized by the Audi A6 Allroad and has since been embraced by other European brands. Models include the VW Passat Alltrack, Skoda Octavia Scout and Opel Insignia Country Tourer.