We were at India’s largest inland salt
lake, the Sambhar Lake, a good two hours’ drive from the Jaipur international
airport in the North Indian state of Rajasthan. And keeping with the spirit of
the new Ford Freestyle, the company’s all-new compact utility vehicle, we spent
a considerable amount of time drifting and tossing the vehicle around the lake’s
vast dry bed. So is this car a fun car? We check it out.
1.2 litre TiVCT petrol
95hp @ 6500 rpm
120Nm@ 4250 rpm
Semi Independent (Twist Beam type)
Ventilated Disc Brakes / Hydraulic,
Vacuum Assisted, Tandem Master Cylinder
Drum Brakes / Hydraulic, Vacuum Assisted,
Tandem Master Cylinder with Auto Slack Adjuster
Rs 6.94 lakh (Titanium +)
Design and Features of the Ford Freestyle
Built on the Ford Figo platform, the new Ford Freestyle is a lot different because it has got a wider track, a better ride height, new
set of 15 inches tyres wrapped around in smart black alloys and a ground
clearance of 190mm, a 10mm more than the Ford EcoSport SUV which is at 200mm.
The Ford Freestyle is a good looker and
looks quite butch in its appearance. The Freestyle grille with
three-dimensional mesh with the Ford logo fixed on it, gives the car a sporty
look. The front and rear bumpers are decently proportioned and along with the
skid plates on the front and rear, give an off-roader character to the car.
The roof rails are no ornamental adds-ons,
but can help take a load of around 50 kgs atop the car. The car unfortunately
does not have Daytime Running Lamps (DRLs) and has instead the conventional
lamps doing service. The Freestyle has
blacked-out high contrast headlamps that are complemented by fog lamp bezel.
Design and Features of the Ford Freestyle
Once you step inside the car, you are
treated to some modern elements. The top end Titanuim+ variant we were driving
comes with six airbags while the base model starts with two front airbags.
Before I get into evaluating the interiors and the performance let me say that
the key fob of the new Ford Freestyle is a beauty by itself. One look at it and
you will agree with me that it is practical too.
The dashboard looks impressive and the
plastic used may not be very premium but it is not tacky either. There are at
least 20 different storage spaces and plenty of it around on the door panels
and even one trucked on the side of the dashboard.
There are two USB slots and one 12V power
socket on the dash area. The Freestyle also features Ford’s in-car infotainment
system, SYNC 3 with a 6.5-inch touchscreen which allows drivers to control
their entertainment and their connected smartphone with conversational voice
commands. SYNC 3 system is also Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. The
touch screen worked perfectly during our drive.
The Freestyle comes with a reverse parking
camera, keyless entry and a push start. It also has an automatic climate
control. Seating in front is decent but once we tried the rear seats, we
realised that for anyone more than 5 feet 8 inches could find it a bit wanting
for head room. At 5’ 10” I could almost feel my head hit the roof when I sat at
the back. Moreover, the rear seats do not have independent head rests. The ones
at the rear are integrated into the seat and could make travelling long
distance a tad uncomfortable. There are also no rear AC vents which could make
sitting at the back a little uncomfortable during summers. But the company is confident
that its air-conditioner is strong enough to tide over any uneasiness.
For a car like the Freestyle which boasts
of some quick moves, there are no grab rails for passengers to hold on from
inside. These are usually found just below the roof line, above the window of
each passenger. Because the Titanium + comes with side air bags, the company
had no option but to drop fixing a grab rail above.
of the Ford Freestyle
We were driving the Freestyle with the new
1.2 litre TiVCT petrol engine mated to a new five-speed manual transmission.
There is also an option of a 1.5 litre diesel engine that does duty in the Ford
EcoSport too. The new petrol engine produces a peak power of 95hp @ 6500 rpm.
Peak torque of 120 Nm is achieved at around 4250 rpm. The 1.5L TDCi diesel
engine generates 99hp peak power and 215 Nm of torque.
Where the Freestyle really scores is the
drive and the ride and handling. Yes, the 3 cylinder 1.2 litre petrol engine is
a gem of a machine and along with the new 5 speed transmission, it’s quite an
impressive machine. Once you get inside the car, all you need is to tap the
start button. The key can be tucked away safely. The steering wheel can be
adjusted for tilt but not for reach.
The moment you slot the machine into first
gear, off it goes like a car in a hurry. Traction control, anti-lock braking,
electronic brake distribution, electric power assisted steering are some of the
features that enhance your driving pleasure. The suspension seems to be tuned
perfectly to take on the rough and the smooth,
In fact the new manual transmission is
almost 15% lighter than the one in the Figo and helps improve fuel economy
while reducing NVH. It requires 40% lesser gear oil than its predecessor too.
Gear shifts were quite slick and the steering gave a great feedback on the
roads, especially at high speeds. The car comes with a hill launch assist
feature which in essence means that on an incline or a slope, when you start
from a stationery position, the car will hold for a few seconds, giving you
enough time to take off, thus avoiding any roll back or forward roll, as the
case may be.
We drove more than a 200 km on roads that
were battered and roads that were smooth. While acceleration to levels above
120kmph came easy, so did driving over bumps. But the icing on the cake was
drifting on the salt lands near Jaipur which brought out the freestyle spirit
of the vehicle.
With the traction control switched off, we
braked and cornered to our heart’s content. With its Active Rollover Prevention
(ARP), a first in class intelligent technology, we knew for sure the vehicle
would not go belly up. ARP works with Electronic Stability Control and applies
brakes to the relevant wheels to decrease engine torque and thus avoids any
potential roll over situation.
The Ford Freestyle is a fleet footed hatch
which promises a great ride. The suspension has been perfectly tuned and the
engine is extremely responsive. For someone who loves to drive, this car offers
a splendid combination of power, comfort and a right attitude. To say the
least, it loads of fun to drive this car.
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