Ford Freestyle Long Term Review
With segment leading power numbers and a feature-loaded interior, the Freestyle is the most fun to drive crossover
It felt like a crazy cosmic calculation when my second long term car was a Ford as well. It was like clockwork, handing in the keys of the Ford Aspire sedan and being given the ones for its spirited younger sibling. If these two cars were people, the Aspire would be an elder sister, poised, responsible and mature while the Freestyle, well it has 'free' in its name doesn't it, would be more of a child high on sugar.
The new Ford Freestyle is more-importantly a rugged, cross-hatchback version of the Figo. However, it gets wider tracks, a raised ride height and Ford's 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder petrol engine with a 5-speed manual gearbox. The headline figure is its 96 PS, making it the most powerful of the naturally aspirated 1.2 petrols on sale in India. Yes, the engine does feel just a slight lethargic at the beginning, but it takes less than 3 seconds to come to life. It has been a riot sprinting this engine at open stretches and witnessing the shocked and somewhat annoyed expressions of people on the road. Why? First, the engine is loud, even the petrol which I drive around, but I can't complain even a little. Honestly, the grunt is more like a soundtrack, which petrolheads shouldn't mind at all. Second, the Freestyle is sadly an unpopular car and quite a few people living under a rock have asked me what car is that. I mean, really. Everyone just knows the Baleno.
One has to agree that the Freestyle looks more substantial than the standard Figo. It gets scuff plates at the front and rear, cladding that wraps around the wheel arches and the lower portion of the body, and, impressively, the roof rails aren't just for show; they can support up to 50kg of load. The wheels are upsized to 15-inch alloys and the split 4-spoke design looks fresh. Complemented with a ride height of 190mm, the Freestyle ain't afraid. Boot space is identical to the Figo so you can fit plenty into the sizable 257-litre bay. It's just that the loading lip is a bit high.
Coming to the cabin, the chocolate-on-black color theme feels upmarket and the 6.5-inch screen gets Ford's latest Sync 3 which is really slick and super quick to pair with your phone via Bluetooth. Even though satellite navigation is missing, it does come bundled with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
In terms of safety kit, the Freestyle comes with dual airbags and ABS as standard. Top versions of the cross-hatch get six airbags, traction control, electronic stability program (ESP) as well as the unique active rollover protection or ARP feature. ARP works in conjunction with the ESP and can brake individual wheels or reduce engine power to prevent a potential roll.
The one thing that I liked the most about the Freestyle, is that its a hatchback with a personality. It's strong, inhibited, has quite a lot of edge without being an eyesore. It seems curated for the driving-enthusiasts and I cannot wait to spend more time with this one. Maybe it's time for a road-trip to Lonavla!
* Beefy and muscular styling
* Feature-loaded interior
* Punchy performing and sporty sounding petrol engine
* Good ride quality and handling
* Comes with all the necessary safety features
What's Not So Cool
* NVH levels could have been better
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