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Ford Freestyle – Expert review

Ford Freestyle – Expert review

Snapshot: Ford’s heavily redone Figo hatchback is aimed squarely at the Honda WR-V and Hyundai Active i20.

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Ford India is banking heavily on the current buyer bias towards crossovers. The carmaker already has the EcoSport in its stable now wants to extend the crossover selection further with the new Freestyle. The car is essentially the Figo hatchback with some heavy modifications both on the exterior as well as under the skin. The biggest change though is the arrival of a new 1.2-litre petrol motor that will subsequently make its way onto other Ford small cars soon.

Exteriors

The front end has been heavily modified now with a completely new nose along with bumpers. The car’s ride height has been jacked up as well. The Freestyle will ride on wider and chunkier rubber too. This car gets 15-inch wheels instead of the 14-inch units on the Figo. With a 190mm ground clearance, the car looks more substantial too. The front end though will remind you of the Fiat Punto(many comments on our video point to this). The rear end isn’t as dramatic as the rest of the car and remains largely unchanged from the regular Figo. Overall, the car does look the part of a compact crossover and stands out from a sea of me-too hatchbacks.

Interiors

The best change inside is the arrival of a large 6.5-inch touchscreen system. Buyers will truly appreciate its legibility and ease of operation. It is the best on any car at this price point. Buyers will also like the amount of kit you get as standard including two airbags and ABS which is standard across the range. You also get auto headlamps and Ford’s MyKey function that allows owners to pre-set maximum volume levels and speed limits for their chauffeurs.

The chocolate brown interior though will split opinion among buyers. Some might also think the steering is a size too large to hold. Rear passengers though get ample legroom and loads of space for their shoulders. The 257-litre boot is adequate for most needs.

Engine, gearbox and performance

The new 1.2-litre petrol motor is a cracker of a unit. It’s brilliant for sheer responsiveness, nice for refinement and very well powered for most needs. Its hard to believe that this is a three-cylinder unit because it feels even more quiet than the older four cylinder unit from the Figo. As the revs mount the engine note also becomes sportier. The car feels light footed thanks to the sprightly performance from the engine. Keen drivers will love the sharp throttle responses as well from this unit. The engine feels even better as you rev it harder with improved performance.

Buyers will also appreciate the new gearbox. It’s light, sporty and has a short shift action which makes it feel very sporty. Sometimes you will be shifting just for the heck of it because you enjoy the box so much.

Ride and handling

The Freestyle impresses in both ride and handling. Yes, the steering wheel is ultra-light around town but it never gets nervous on the highway. The car feels adroitly planted when speeds increase and never lets any sharp bumps or crevices to enter the cabin. Buyers will also like the tight body controls, especially when pushed around corners. The steering has good feedback as well and offers great confidence as speeds increase. This is one of those rare steering wheels which will be loved by both keen drivers and those wanting a no nonsense daily drive. Slow city speed ride quality is well cushioned too.

Summary

The Freestyle offers a likeable personality with loads of equipment, good performance and a keen sticker price. If you are in the market for a hatchback with attitude, then this crossover is a sensible choice. Check it out at a Ford dealer near you.

Photographer - Mohd. Nasir

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