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Ford, the American automaker's first Compact Utility Vehicle (CUV) had to be impressive, and the Freestyle CUV is steering forward and making headlines. Read: Ford Freestyle Makes Global Debut In India
As the name suggests, the Freestyle is an interestingly free-styled CUV that is based on the Figo hatchback, and will be positioned between the Figo and the EcoSport.
This latest offering from Ford India is positioned for first-time buyers who seek economy buys; especially, for those who prefer a car that combines a taller driving position with relatively compact dimensions of a regular family hatchback.
The Indian market has taken a sudden liking to compact SUV-shaped family vehicles, and the crossover hatchback segment is witnessing more models/brands year-on-year. The now-defunct Volkswagen Cross Polo arguably kick-started this segment in India, and later the likes of the Toyota Etios Cross, the Fiat Avventura, the Hyundai i20 Active followed suite.
Fast forward to 2018, Ford India is all set to take on the crossover hatchback segment with the Freestyle. Is the Freestyle worth the money or is it just a jacked-up cosmetic Figo? Let's find out...
Design & Styling
Ford's ‘Kinetic' design language has taken new shape with the Freestyle. Though the panels of the Freestyle evidently hides a Figo underneath, Ford has still managed to make the Freestyle look unique and stay true to the ‘CUV' nickname.
The first thing that catches the eye is the raised ground clearance. At 190mm, the Ford Freestyle rides higher than the Figo by 16mm, which is mighty impressive. For the sake of comparison, the Mahindra XUV 500's ground clearance is 200mm.
The CUV also gets a new set of 15-inch four-spoke alloy wheels; something that has received mixed reviews. Generally, four-spoke alloy wheels are a rarity with cars — what do you guys think?
For the front styling, the Ford Freestyle gets a hexagonal black honeycomb grill design, looking a tad different from the Figo.
While the headlamps are borrowed from the Figo, they receive a specialized smoked effect. The angular bumper proportions make a pair of C-shape islands; whose bottom is rested against the fog lamps. To further improve the offroad charm, the Freestyle has been blessed with a silver skid plate and faux claddings that run along the length of the car.
The side profile explains the true height of the car. There is a noticeable gap between the wheels and arches. However, the basic proportions of the Freestyle remain identical to the Figo, with the character line that takes life from the side garnish and dies out at the tail lamp.
New additions also include the silver roof rails that not only adds to the aesthetics, but are also functional. The Ford Freestyle also gets black graphics on either side. The black detailing has also been carried to the ORVMs.
The Ford Freestyle gets a new tail lamp cluster, but the illumination is not by LEDs. The bumper design looks identical to its front, along with the skid plate and faux claddings. All in all, the Freestyle has a balanced mix of style and considerable muscle.
The Freestyle most certainly resembles a jacked-up Figo, and this extends in to the cabin design. The dashboard styling is basically that of the Figo's.
The dashboard design is finished in a chocolate-on-black theme, which blends well with the character of the car. The materials used across the top of the dash is solid and has a great feel. However, you will find some hard and scratchy plastic lower down on the centre console and door panels; it isn't a deal-breaker though.
Stereo & Infotainment
The Freestyle gets a 6.5-inch touchscreen (seen in the mid-spec versions of the EcoSport). The 6.5-inch touchscreen coupled with the Sync 3 infotainment setup is well placed (in your eye line) on top of the dashboard.
As expected from Ford, the interface is simple and slick to respond. By far the best and most responsive infotainment user interface a sub 10-lakh car has to offer in India today.
Pairing a mobile phone via Bluetooth is no bother and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity are standard; a compass display is also provided to give you an idea of which direction you are headed.
Practicality, Comfort & Boot Space
The raised ride height of the Freestyle is a definite bonus, in terms of the sense of space. Storage is reasonable with plenty of handy storage cubbies, a decent-sized glove box, door bins and central storage for cups or phones in between the seats.
The interior has an utilitarian feel, set apart by details like rubber mats instead of standard cloth mats and the seat fabrics is more vibrant.
Room at the rear is sufficient, while the rear-seats seat passengers quite high. Seating three abreast can be a challenge, but it is certainly possible for shorter journeys.
The rear bench folds down and the boot space of 257-litres (same as the Figo) can further be increased. One thing to bear in mind though is that the rear bench cannot be removed.
Engine, Performance & Driving Impressions (1.2-litre, petrol)
There is one petrol and one diesel engine on offer. Starting with the petrol, this is Ford's new ‘Dragon-series' 1.2-litre, 95-horsepower, naturally aspirated three-cylinder engine.
This comes with an all-new Getrag* five-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive; there is no auto gearbox available with this engine.
*Getrag is the world's largest supplier of transmission systems for passenger cars and commercial vehicles. The company has three joint ventures. One of them being, Getrag Ford Transmissions headquartered in Cologne with Ford Motor Company.
The new engine makes the Freestyle — the most powerful 1.2-litre, naturally aspirated petrol car on sale in India. The diesel Freestyle borrows the 100-horsepower, 1.5-litre engine as seen in the Figo, Aspire and EcoSport, and also gets a five-speed manual gearbox.
Based on a hatchback, the Freestyle offers a tall, commanding view of the road. As far as driving dynamics are concerned, the Freestyle incites spirited driving.
The smooth free-revving engine encourages you to rev the engine towards its 6800rpm power peak. It is fun to do so owing to the naturally aspirated engine, which responds well to heavy-footed driving and pulls sweetly above 3000rpm; the light clutch makes the Freestyle easy to drive in town as well.
As with Ford's other models, the Freestyle offers sharp handling and a high level of safety. The tilt only electric power assist steering offers a fine balance of weight and road-feedback, giving you a fair sense of the level of grip on offer — which is surprisingly high for a crossover hatchback.
The Freestyle can turn in at high-speeds and take on muddy fields, potholes and sharp ridges with great composure, all thanks to the well thought out underbody layout and features including:
- Anti Rollover Prevention (ARP) that uses ESP and targeted braking intervention on individual wheels to reduce drive torque in order to prevent rollover
- Chunky 185/60 tyres on 15-inch rims
- A well judged suspension with stiffer and taller springs when compared to the Figo
- Beefy front anti-roll bar
- Wider track of 30mm over the Figo
- Increased ride height of 190mm
On the braking front, the well calibrated brakes: ventilated disc brakes in front and drum brakes at rear, offer on-point brake pedal feedback and delivers strong stopping power. On the whole, though, this compact utility vehicle is a great driver's car.
Ford Freestyle Specifications Overview
|Engine||1.2-litre naturally-aspirated 3-cylinder||1.5-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder|
|Transmission||5-speed manual||5-speed manual|
|Tyre Size||185/60 R15||185/60 R15|
Ford Freestyle Variants, Mileage & Colours
The Ford Freestyle will be offered in four variants: Ambiente, Trend, Titanium and Titanium+. Freestyle is available in six colour options: Canyon Ridge, Moondust Silver, Smoke Grey, White Gold (review car), Oxford White and Absolute Black.
ARAI mileage claims are 19km/l for petrol and 24.4km/l for diesel. Fuel tank capacity is 42-litres for petrol and 40-litres for diesel, respectively. The ARAI mileage claims are fairly impressive; however, as ever, you'd struggle to match them in real world conditions.
Safety & Key Features
Safety features such as dual airbags at the front, ABS, EBD, engine immobilizer, reverse parking sensors, keyless entry, approach sensors, perimeter theft alarm, seat-belt reminder, and automatic relock at 15km/h will be offered as standard across the variants.
All variants, except for the Ambiente, gets reverse parking camera. The top-spec Titanium+ trim gets additional safety features such as: Active Rollover Protection (ARP), side and curtain airbags and Emergency Assistance.
Other features of the fully-loaded variant of the Freestyle include: power fold ORVMs, electrochromic IRVM, automatic climate control, automatic headlamp, rain sensing wipers, engine start/stop button and Ford MyKey.
Accessories & Warranty
To crank up the style factor, Ford will offer a host of accessories for the Freestyle. The list of standout accessories on offer are: body stripe kit and roof wrap, seat covers, sun blinds, rear spoiler, 15-inch alloy wheels and slimline weather shield.
Ford offers other accessories such as automatic headlamps, engine under shield, anti-theft nuts, neck rest and pillow, rearview camera, roof rails (that can hold up to 50kg), smart ambient lighting and shark fin antenna.
The Freestyle comes with 2 years or 100,000kms (whichever is earlier) warranty. Various warranty and service extensions plans are available too.
Scheduled Service Cost For 100,000kms
Total Cost: Rs 41,000
Per KM cost: Rs 41 paise
Total Cost: Rs 51,000
Per KM cost: Rs 51 paise
The Freestyle competition comes from the Toyota Etios Cross and Hyundai i20 Active. For now, we feel the Freestyle has an upper hand and is best-in-class when compared to its competitors.
|Model||Displacement (cc)||Power/Torque (bhp/Nm)||Mileage (km/l)|
|Ford Freestyle||1194||94.7/120||19 |
The Freestyle is not completely perfect; however, it ticks all the right boxes so far as style and safety are concerned, and manages to be engaging to drive as well — just like the Figo — something that can't be said of many cars in this segment.
Jobo Kuruvilla Thinks!
The Freestyle champions driveability, and Ford's first attempt at a crossover hatchback is impressive and is a breath of fresh air in this segment. Moreover, if safety features and a properly spirited driving crossover hatchback is the main buying factor — with free will, bring home the Freestyle. Thoroughly recommended!
- Expected Launch: Mid-April
- Estimated Price: Rs 6 to 9 lakh (on-road)
- Booking Amount: Rs 21,000
- Deliveries: June 2018