Honda

Honda

TEST DRIVE| FORD FREESTYLE: GET READY FOR THE ADVENTURE

With most of the newer car launches being either a hatchback, a crossover or an SUV, we can see a clear difference in the choice of the current market. The hatchback and the SUV categories have been heated up for quite some time now and the crosshatch segment, is not looking to be left behind by any means. With a lot of cars already competing in that category with the likes of the Hyundai i20 Active, Polo Cross, Fiat Avventura, Toyota Etios Cross, etc. Ford wanted a share in this market too! But rather than placing the Ford Freestyle in the Crosshatch Segment it opted to create a segment of its own called the CUV (Compact Utility Vehicle). Although it’s basically the same thing as a crossover hatch, it has just been given a different name and will be competing with the same lot of cars!

EXTERIOR
The Ford Freestyle is similar looking to the other crossover with a slightly raised ride height and body cladding to give it the rough look of an SUV. The styling elements on the Freestyle is a little different than the current generation Figo (the car it is based on) because it features a new updated design which will soon be introduced on the Figo as a facelift. The headlights looks smart with the honeycomb grille between the two and the fog lamps are enclosed in a “C” shaped plastic piece. The front and rear end gets a silver skid plate like design while the sides have a black plastic cladding on the wheel arches.

The Freestyle has enough space for a 16 inch rim but does away with a 15 inch wheel to keep the ride quality in check. It seems Ford has a thing for the color Grey so the Rims and the ORVMs (Outside Rear View Mirrors) are all finished in grey. While these are the major changes on the exterior, you can make your freestyle a little more unique with Ford’s accessories which includes a body stripe kit in which a racing stripe runs down the middle of the car from the front end to the back. The other option is the Roof Wrap, where the roof is wrapped in a contrasting black shade. If these accessories are not enough then you can get the optional Spoiler as well which will give your car an even sportier look.

PERFORMANCE
The trend of inline 3 cylinders is on the rise and the engine fitted in the petrol variant is a 3 cylinder too. The 1.2L 3 cylinder engine from the Dragon series produces a surprising 96 PS of power @ 6500 RPM and 120 Nm of Torque @ 4250 RPM. The 1.5L 4 cylinder diesel engine produces 100 PS of power @ 3750 RPM and 215 Nm of torque @ 3000 RPM. The model we tested was the 1.2L petrol variant. The engine was very punchy and responsive. It likes to rev high into the rev band which is unlike other 3 cylinder engines. Though like the other 3 cylinder engines, it gets a bit loud when you rev it. The motor felt pretty strong and had a very fast response time, which made driving that much more fun. The steering wheel had a nice feel to it and was very easy to maneuver. The car has a higher ground clearance but it handled pretty well. The suspension did their duties well and proved to be capable on difficult terrains too.

INTERIOR
The interior is the main distinguishable part between the Figo and the Freestyle. While the Figo had a nice interior, the Freestyle is a step above it. The coffee brown finish on the dash looks nice and the Freestyle gets a 6.5 inch Sync 3 touch screen infotainment system which the Figo clearly lacked. The Freestyle has a very minimalistic touch when we look at the dash because there aren’t a lot of buttons to get you confused. The layout is simple and is easy to get used too.

The Sync 3 infotainment system was very intuitive to use and is amongst one of the best if not the best infotainment system in the class. The seats looked nice and were very comfortable, providing good support. The room in the back was pretty good too, with ample amount of leg room and head room. The climate control was easy to use but it wasn’t a dual zone climate control. If we had to nitpick then it has to be the awkward placement of the push start button and the voice control which gets really annoying at times. The push start button is placed on the left side behind the steering wheel and at times it is difficult to locate. There is a female voice that comes on at times when you are using the infotainment system, it is ok for a while but gets really annoying after it continuously comes on when trying to use the infotainment system. The speakers were really nice though and had a good amount of bass in them.

Just like the exterior accessories you can get seat covers for the Freestyle but it is not applicable in the models with side and curtain airbags.

SAFETY
Safety has been given a lot of priority in the new Freestyle and a lot of safety tech has been included, of which some are first in class. The first and the foremost important safety feature are the Airbags, the top end Titanium Plus variant comes loaded with six airbags. While the rest of the variants have two airbags. ABS (Antilock Braking System) with EBD (Electronic Brake force Distribution) comes standard too, which really helps in the braking department. The car features Active Rollover Prevention (ARP) which makes sure that you don’t rollover your car, which is a segment first. As other manufacturers are yet to bring this technology to the crossover class. It also has reversing cameras and parking sensor to make parking easier and a lot safer.

VERDICT
The Ford Freestyle is a very good car and is one of the best offerings in its category. It does have some limitations and has places where improvements are necessary. Like they say no one is perfect, similarly no car is perfect too, but Ford have done a pretty good job with their new vehicle and have brought it as close to perfection as they could. They have taken huge steps forward in the right direction and we only hope that it keeps on getting better and better. The Freestyle starts from Nrs. 26,99,000/- to Nrs. 34,49,000/- for the petrol variant while the diesel starts from Nrs. 29,99,000/- to Nrs. 35,99,000/- for the Titanium plus variant. The Freestyle makes a very strong case for itself and ifww you are looking for a hatchback or a crossover than you should definitely give the Freestyle a shot.

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