2018 Ford Freestyle Review
Car Tested: 2018 Ford Freestyle; Road Test No. 927
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 5.91 – 9.26 lakhs
The Freestyle is a tougher Figo in a better package with more equipment
It is no secret that the SUV segment has shown unimaginable growth and every automobile manufacturer is trying hard to bring out multiple products in this segment. When it comes to urban SUVs, customers usually look out for higher ground clearance and a commanding driving position. Keeping this mantra in mind, Ford is out with their latest product, the Freestyle. This Figo based cross-hatch is not just a jacked up Figo but changes are more than skin deep. We sweat it out on a hot summer day in city of Jaipur to find out why the Figo got inspired by the EcoSport and took steroids.
Motor Quest: Hatchback-based crossovers have started becoming a trend in Asia with so many automakers launching jacked up variants of their hatchbacks. Ford is not one to be left behind and hence they’ve brought in the Freestyle which will be slotted below the EcoSport.
Exteriors – For a layman, the Freestyle might pass off as a jazzed up Figo and that is a good as well as a bad thing. The CUV’s (Compact Utility Vehicle) front fascia gets a restyled front bumper with a distinctive fog lamp housing and a blackened signature Ford 3D mesh grille. While the front and rear bumpers get a silver faux skid plate, the headlights get a smoked effect. The side profile is bolder-looking thanks to the body cladding, flared wheel arches, roof rails and the 15-inch gunmetal finished alloy wheels with wider tyres. The crossover also gets matte black finished ORVMs which look quite cool. The rear, again, is similar to the Figo hatchback save for the Freestyle badging and the revised bumper. The roof rails have a load carrying capacity of 50 kgs while the ground clearance has been raised by 16 mm to 190 mm.
Interiors – Unlike the Figo’s all-black interior, the Freestyle gets a dual-tone black and brown interior. The dashboard layout is identical to the hatchback and features the same 3-spoke steering wheel and instrument console. However, what's new in the Freestyle is the 6.5-inch SYNC3 touchscreen infotainment system that sits flush in the centre console and the new seat upholstery. This unit is borrowed from the EcoSport facelift and supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity but misses out on navigation. The system is user-friendly and intuitive to use.
The cabin of the Freestyle is well-appointed and ergonomic
The front seats are comfortable and the driver's seat gets height adjustment. While the rear seat is comfortable with good knee room and under-thigh support, it lacks headroom, especially for taller passengers. The rear doors still miss out on the pockets for storing water bottles. The rear seat gets fixed headrests and is flat foldable. In terms of features, you get automatic climate control, MID (slightly larger than the Figo’s), steering mounted audio controls, chrome door handles, push button start, automatic headlights and electrically adjustable and power folding ORVMs. 257-litres of boot space is generous enough for a crossover of this size and the Freestyle also features an electro-mechanic tailgate opener.
Performance – Ford will sell you the Freestyle in both diesel and petrol engine options. The diesel is the same Figo-derived 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder oil burner which churns out 100 PS of power and 215 Nm of twisting force. It also happens to be the most powerful engine across the segment. However, we got a chance to drive Ford’s all-new 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder, TiVCT petrol engine, which has indeed made its debut with this cross-hatch. This too, is the most powerful gasoline engine in its class producing 96 PS of power and 120 Nm of torque. Power delivery is liner and this engine performs exceptionally well in the mid-range and high-end of the rev band.
The new 5-speed MT ‘box aids in better driveability while NVH levels are good
The engine does get vocal at the red line but has a nice racy tone to it. In comparison, Maruti’s K12 engine has a better low end punch and feels more refined towards the red line but NVH levels are far better with the Ford. Mated to this engine is an all new 5-speed manual transmission. This gearbox is 15% lighter than its predecessor and this diet has improved fuel economy marginally. Moreover, this gearbox offers more responsive gearshifts with evenly spaced out ratios for all types of driving conditions. On urgent shifting, we did notice a hint of judder from the engine which was a reminder that this is indeed a 3-cylinder unit which is otherwise hard to tell. The clutch is light and well weighed which makes it very easy to drive in bumper to bumper traffic. We sorely missed the dead pedal which adds a lot convenience over long drives.
Driving Dynamics – Inspite of the raised ground clearance, Ford has found a good balance between ride and handling. The larger wheels work with the suspension keeping the potholes at bay, giving you a confortable ride in the cabin. However, on really broken surfaces, the rear passengers did complain of being bounced around but the Freestyle remained composed where others would get worked up. The steering offers good feel and feedback, weighs up well at speeds and offers a lot of predictability around corners. We would have liked if it was a tad smaller in size. NVH levels are excellent with no vibrations creeping into the cabin. Brakes offer good feel and stopping power.
Safety and After Sales Service – Ford has equipped all variants with dual front airbags with the top variant getting 6 airbags. You also Electronic Stability Control, Active Rollover Prevention, ABS, EBD, Hill Launch Assist, Emergency Assistance and Ford My Key. When it comes to after-sales and maintenance costs, the American automaker claims that the vehicle's service parts are 20% cheaper than other hatchbacks and also comes with a service interval of 10,000 kms. The total scheduled service costs per 1,00,000 kms for the petrol version is Rs. 41,000/- (per km cost – Rs. 0.41) and Rs. 51,000/- (per km cost – Rs. 0.51) for the diesel-powered Freestyle.
Verdict – With SUV demand only rising, Ford has managed to bring out a sporty cross-hatch which offers a lot of practicality on the table. This car is a worthy contender if you are looking to buy a cross-hatch which is fun to drive and shines on bad roads. While the diesel engine has already established itself in terms of performance, the introduction of the new 1.2-litre petrol has really upped the game from where the Figo left. Moreover, the Ford Freestyle perfectly bridges the gap between the Figo and the EcoSport and seems to carve out a nice spot for itself in the crossover category.
* Punchy performance from the petrol motor
* Safety features
* Touchscreen infotainment system
* NVH levels
What’s Not So Cool
* No navigation on offer
* No dead pedal
* No option of AT
2018 Ford Freestyle
2018 Ford Freestyle Review
The Ford Freestyle is a jacked up version of the Figo but it comes with a completely new petrol engine, gets more features and looks very good too. Ford has managed to make this a very good car to drive around with a good blend of comfort and handling and that makes the Freestyle a worthy contender in its segment.