Ford has introduced its latest crossover for the Indian market. This is the Ford Freestyle. It is based on the Figo hatchback, but gets spruced up quite a bit. How good is it? Should you buy it or avoid it? We tell you this in our detailed review. Keep reading further.
Ford Freestyle Design
The Ford Freestyle is a rugged looking crossover, derived from the Figo. Ford likes to call it a CUV (Compact Utility Vehicle). The Freestlye gets a few upgrades over the Figo. Although it broadly looks similar to the hatchback, you will notice some changes that include a new front grille and new bumpers. The headlamps remain the same as the Figo. The bumpers have round fog lamps fitted in them and there is a C-shaped section around the fog lamps. The bumpers have silver finished scuff plates that give it a bold and rugged look. The ORVMs are finished in black. The Freestyle gets roof rails and it adds some more flavour to the crossover look. The rear is again similar to the Figo.
The alloy wheels are of a new design and they are 15-inch ones. I would have preferred 16-inch ones, as the competitors like i20 Active and Honda WRV get 16-inch wheels. But still these are better than the 14-inch ones on the Figo. There is body cladding all around the vehicle, including the wheel arches. Another talking point about the Ford Freestyle is the ground clearance, which is 190mm. It is just 10mm short of the Ecosport.
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In all, it does look more appealing than the Figo and can clearly distinguish itself. In fact I found it pretty similar looking to the Fiat Avventura. The styling is smart and there is little room for any complain.
Ford Freestyle Interiors
The interiors also do not differ much from the Figo. They do get a different treatment though. The dashboard has a mix of black and brown colours. Its not so much to my liking, but is does look refreshed, to an extent. The biggest change is the addition of a touchscreen infotainment system. This is a 6.5-inch screen and is the same one found in the lower variants of the Ecosport. This touchscreen has SYNC 3 and is a joy to use and has information clear and legible on it. It gets a reverse parking camera as well, apart from navigation and Android Auto / Apple Car Play.
The other new addition is a refreshed instrument panel. Though it looks the same, it now gets a bigger digital inset with a more elaborate driver information system. It also now gets an exact door open indicator. The steering wheel is chunky and gets leather wrapping. Rest of the things remain the same as the Figo. Storage spaces are good enough with cup holders in the floor console. The front door pads get two bottle holders each.
Spacewise, it is identical to the Figo. The front seats are the same, albeit, with different upholstery. Seats are good but not the best. The rear has decent space, but the rear seats are not the best in class. The rear head restraints are fixed. There is no armrest in the car, neither at the front or the rear. There are no grab handles either in the Titanium+ variant which gets six airbags. The boot is just adequate at 257 litres.
Ford Freestyle Features
Apart from the new touchscreen infotainment system and the driver info system, the Freestyle has a keyless entry with a push button start. There is automatic climate control, auto headlamps and MyKey function with which one can set speed limits and audio volume in the car. In terms of safety, the Freestyle gets dual airbags and ABS as standard. The top-end Titanium+ variant gets six airbags, traction control, electronic stability program (ESP) linked to an ARP feature. ARP is capable of braking individual wheels or reduce engine power to prevent a roll-over.
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Ford Freestyle Performance
The Freestyle, apart from the cosmetics gets a new heart as well. Now, there are two engines offered in this. One is the same 1.5-litre diesel, that is found in the Figo. this engine belts out about 100bhp of power and 215Nm of torque. This engine has been our favourite and is a great performer. There is no change in this engine and it retains its charm. However, there is a new petrol engine offered now. This is a 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder Dragon petrol engine.
This new-gen engine is quite a promising one and develops 96 bhp. At first, my thought was that it would be only slightly better than the outgoing petrol and as it is a 3-cylinder unit , may not have the fun factor. But how wrong I was! This engine is an impressive performer, to say the least. It has got good punch and doesn’t feel like a 1.2 3-cylinder unit. We reached 0-100 km/h in about 14 seconds, which is not bad at all for a 3-cylinder engine of this size.
The engine starts without any shudder and is less noisy than some other similar engines in the market. The sound also does not seep into the cabin, except when revved hard. The other impressive thing is the exhaust note. It is extremely sporty and sounds like a sports car. Be sure that this car will turn heads while passing by, with just its sound.
The driveability is also good and it very well suited for city driving conditions. The engine also revs well above 6000rpm and the limiter comes into play at 6800rpm. The 5-speed manual gearbox also has got improvements is now lighter than the earlier one. There is no automatic on offer, presently. The performance of this petrol engine left me quite impressed and it certainly is a recommended buy, if the primary use of the Freestyle is within the city. For more of highway runs, it is still the diesel that rules.
Ford Freestyle Mileage
We have not yet tested it for mileage independently, however our assumption is that the petrol should return around 11-12 km/l in the city and 14-16 km/l on the highway, in regular driving conditions. The diesel should return around 14km/l in the city and around 20 km/l on the highway. This may vary on one’s driving style.
Ford Freestyle Ride and Handling
Being based on the Figo, it comes with almost the same dynamics found in the hatchback. The major change is the raised ground clearance, which is 190mm and the 15-inch wheels. The steering also is lighter than the Figo and is a welcome change, specially for city driving. The ride quality is very good and absorbs most undulations well. At low speeds you do feel a bit stiffness, but nothing to bother too much. The suspension feels tough. The handling too is great. The only thing I found different was that at speeds above 60km/h, sudden direction changes make the car feel a bit shaky or nervous. This could be due to the higher ground clearance. The brakes are excellent and very confidence inspiring.
Overall, its a pleasant experience to drive the Ford Freestyle. You can afford to push this one to the limits, without the vehicle budging. Good straight line stability and the ARP function help it stay firmly planted during enthusiatic driving. I would’ve preferred it to have a dead pedal, which still misses out on this Ford. Also the absence of a grab handle for passengers in the six-airbag version is a sore point. There needs to be something for the passengers to hold on to, especially when this is supposed to be an adventurous vehicle.
The reason for the Ford Freestyle to be born is the growing love for SUVs / Crossovers in our country and world over as well. This will sit between the Figo and the Ecosport. The Freestyle comes across as quite impressive in most areas. It also has better road presence than its base hatchback version. I feel, the price of the Freestyle will be imperative to its success. Ford is now entering a territory ruled by Honda and Hyundai. If priced about 70,000-80,000 more than the Figo, it would be bang-on.