Ford is all set to launch the Figo based Freestyle in the next few weeks. The car was showcased days before the Auto Expo, an event that Ford (and few others companies) skipped due to huge financials involved. The Freestyle is being marketed as India’s first ever compact utility vehicle (CUV) and will rub shoulders with the likes of the Hyundai i20 Active and the Toyota Etios Cross. We will be driving this new Ford next week at Rajasthan’s famous Sambhar lake salt flats and can’t wait to share our driving impressions about the car.
The Freestyle is sold as the Ka+ Active internationally and will be Ford India’s ticket into the world of rugged hatchbacks, a segment that has not witnessed too much action. As mentioned above, the Freestyle is based on the Figo hatchback but has visual changes to make it look appealing. There is absolutely no chrome on the outside and a blacked out theme has been adopted for parts like the outside mirrors, all round body cladding, the B-pillar, front grille and even for the headlight masking. The Freestyle gets a new bumper with ‘C’ shaped fog lamp inserts, larger 15 inch brushed aluminium alloy wheels, silver pseudo skid plates at both the ends and a different rear bumper as well.
As expected, the Freestyle has a 15 mm higher ground clearance as compared to the regular Figo and even carries a wider track to justify the new found rugged appeal. Moving on, though Ford India has not revealed the interiors officially, the cabin is a lift off from the Figo hatchback with a new key feature being the 6.5 inch touchscreen interface that features Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment technology, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
The new Freestyle will come with 2 engine options – the diesel is the same 1.5 unit that powers the Figo, Asprie and the EcoSport. We love this engine for its punchy performance, minimal turbo-lag and relatively smooth operation. The big news is the new 1.2 litre Dragon series petrol engine that replaces the older 1.2 unit. This new motor makes 96 bhp of power and 120 nm of torque, up by 10% and 7% respectively as compared to the older engine. Both the engines will come mated to a 5 speed manual gear box and we are told Ford has altered the suspension to suit the Freestyle’s rugged appeal.
We believe the Freestyle, given its audience, will not be offered in base trim levels but probably in two or three versions for each fuel type. The car will be positioned in the Rs 6-8 lakh bracket and Ford will continue to push its lowest maintenance costs in a big way.