We’ve all known the Figo for its driving dynamics and strong engines – and in 2018, Ford decided to introduce a cross-hatch version of the same car, calling it the Freestyle. It is designed to look rugged and with its increased height and electric power steering, Ford ensures this is more than just a regular Figo. The brand also launched the car with a new petrol engine: a 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder unit, paired to a 5-speed manual transmission. With the Freestyle, Ford is targeting a customer looking at an SUV for hatchback money.
The first thing you notice is the raised ground clearance of 190mm; it does help it give the cross-hatch a taller stance – and you’d also admit that all those cross-hatch elements do enhance its design. The Ford Freestyle gets scuff plates at the front and rear, with cladding around the wheel arches and the lower half of the body; also, the roof rails can carry a load of up to 50kgs. The wheels have grown in size to 15-inches and with its split four-spoke design, it looks quite good. The wheels could’ve been a little larger, but then Ford Cars had to bear in mind ride quality, so they kept it at 15-inches.
The ‘V’ visible in the bonnet is more prominent and flows nicely into the hexagonal grille. Up-front, the nose looks quite aggressive and the nicely shaped bumper sports C-shaped fog light housings. The headlamps get a smoked-out look and the mesh on the grille gives it a sporty appearance. We also like the contrast theme for the wing mirrors. Lower down, on the doors, you’ll notice stickers, but what really put us off were those faux air vents on the rear bumper. At the rear, the faux skid plate will help you differentiate it from a regular Figo.
Same inside story?
The Freestyle’s cabin is a mimic of the Figo’s and Aspire’s. However, there are some significant changes like the brown-on-black colour theme for the cabin, the touchscreen infotainment system and the restyled central console. The touchscreen gets Ford’s Sync 3 tech, making it perhaps one of the best systems in the segment. It responds well, is smooth in operation and is quite quick in being synced to your smartphone through Bluetooth. It even features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
The Ford Freestyle gets features like auto climate control, Ford’s MyKey function, auto headlamps, Ford’s MyKey function, 6 airbags, electronic stability program, traction control, active rollover protection and ABS. Now while the Freestyle does sit a bit higher than the regular Figo, the view from the driver’s seat remains the same. The front seats are very accommodating, thanks to their huge sizes but a dead pedal would’ve proved useful. We felt the steering was a bit too big and the simplistic instrument cluster doesn’t keep up with the times. The quality and finish could’ve been better as well. Storage spaces are offered up-front; you get two cupholders in the seats and a panel on which you can place your smartphone. Then there are two USB slots at the front along with 12V charging socket. Space at the rear is good, and it feels airy, thanks to the big windows. The cushioning is soft and the headroom will be sufficient for tall passengers. At 257-litres, boot capacity is nearly similar to the regular Figo’s, but we found the loading lip placed too high up.
Fun on the road?
The Ford Freestyle is powered by a new 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder Ti-VCT petrol engine, producing 94bhp, making it one among the quickest naturally-aspired motors – and after having spent a few days with it, we realised just how good a product it is. At low speeds, you can hardly hear the engine and even after you pick up speed in a seamless fashion, the little Figo will amble along in the city well and feels livelier than the old 4-cylinder engine. Push the motor hard, and it doesn’t mind, but isn’t the quickest revving engine, while top-end performance, on the other hand, is strong. You manage to get the most out of the engine if you rev it all the way to the 6800rpm limiter. However, the 3-cylinder thrum becomes clear once you’ve begun pushing it. The best part is, the engine sounds quite nice. The car’s Getrag-sourced 5-speed ‘box is light and the clutch is well weighted. The Freestyle is also offered with a 1.5-litre diesel engine, producing 98bhp and 215Nm of torque. Throttle response from the diesel is good and power builds up in a linear manner, but if pushed to its limit, it will get loud. Also, read the latest car comparisons, only at autoX.