Stripped-down entry-level Ford Figo Freestyle may lack spec but it’s popular
Here’s an interesting little car that split opinion in the office on a few fronts as we went through the road test post mortem. Working is a family business helps in cases like this — nobody pulls any punches.
The new Ford Figo Freestyle is now the Motor Company’s entry level SUV. What they call a sub-B segment compact utility vehicle. It’s based on the popular Figo hatchback and joins the EcoSport, Kuga and Everest on the range
LOSES A BIT OF SPEC FOR A 20 GRAND SAVING
What makes this one intriguing, is that it’s the baseline R226K Trend. Which means that it forsakes quite a bit of tech at around twenty grand off the full cream Titanium.
Basically a Figo on stilts, Ford calls its stance robust. It’s increased ground clearance and a commanding driving position are allegedly ideally suited to city driving through the week and weekend countryside escapes. I personally don’t like how it looks. Which is the first bit we argued about. Turns out that this car does have fans when it comes to looks.
Freestyle has its design plusses — those big double-spoke 15-inch alloy wheels framed by bold black arches and integrated skid plates. Ride height is up 16 mm on the regular Figo at 190 mm. Its trendy roof rails are also ready for a bicycle, canoe or other adventure kit racks.
Stepping into the two-tone cabin, we started to bicker more. Personally I find the lack of a proper infotainment system to be a big drawback in this basic Trend version. But then my dad argues that he quite likes it. He points out that it’s refreshing to have a car that does not demand you take your focus off the road to look at a screen in the middle of the dash for whatever you want to do next. And it’s cheaper too.
OLD SCHOOL. COOL?
He also liked the old school radio knobs. He’s always on AM anyway — reminding himself of the old days when he used to blast about in his XR3. In the days when a removable sound system was apparently all the rage! Let’s just say this one’s for him! Of course the Titanium version steps up to the full MacGyver, so you can have your Freestyle with proper infotainment anyway.
Trend still comes with Ford’s Device Dock boasting Bluetooth, USB and Aux connectivity and a handy smartphone receptacle. Dad asks why we need the fancy screen? I’m not going to argue. All that said however, this one’s audio is pretty good, truth be told.
Remember that you can get that floating 6.5-inch Sync 3 colour display complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and the kitchen sink in the big brother. Hope to be able to drive one soon. That way Ford actually satisfies both sides of our argument. The old man promised this base spec car will still sell well because he’s not the only one who still likes old knobs and a dull blue screen.
To settle the argument, the toppie contacted his mates at Ford HQ to ask which sells better. Turns out I lost that one. This Trend indeed outsells the Titanium ‘in a price sensitive niche’. Not by much I hear, but there you go…
Ford promises Figo Freestyle is well equipped for adventure. We were all satisfied with its loads of interior storage compartments. It certainly is practical.
FIGO FREESTYLE ENGINE IMPRESSED
I also liked the engine. The lively and elastic naturally aspirated 91 kW 150 Nm 1.5-litre three-pot has sufficient power. It drives the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox. Which has a positive action and clutch feel is good, too. That sense of potential played out in our tests too. This little Freestyle far outdid its maker’s claims on performance to deliver some pretty impressive numbers on our strip.
Freestyle quite impressed on the road. Its tight steering ratio makes for nippy and precise handling and a decent feel. Ride quality is surprisingly good, especially over more drastic bumps, such as speed bumps. That does have a compromise when it comes to cruising the open road, however – there it’s a bit too darty on the wheel.
Engine noise is enticing, although that triple thrum can likewise become slightly loud and grunty on the open road. Fuel economy is outstanding. I managed 4.5 l/100km at best. On average it should do between 5.5 and 7 per hundred.
Safety and security includes driver and passenger airbags, ABS brakes and all the proper belts and whistles. Talking belts, the seatbelt hinge on B pillar sticks out and I struck my head on it a few times. This Trend has remote central drive-away locking with a perimeter anti-theft alarm and engine immobiliser.
‘GOTTTA LOVE THAT FIGO FREESTYLE SIMPLICITY
At R225K+ the Ford Freestyle Trend is however not the best value for spec vehicle in its category. This one’s lack of an infotainment system as well as some other technical features like a reverse camera don’t do it’s price much justice.
That said, it seems the majority of owners actually do value this one’s relative simplicity. It is a pretty cool car to drive and live with. And has a trusty blue gong on its nose. It’s a solid buy. That much is for sure. — Giordano Lupini
Images: Giordano Lupini
ROAD TESTED: Ford Figo Freestyle 1.5 Trend Engine: 91 kW 150 Nm 1.5-litre petrol I3 Drive: 5-speed manual FWD TESTED: 0-60km/h: 3.89 sec 0-100km/h: 8.99 sec 0-160km/h: 25.77 sec 400m: 16.4 sec @ 137 km/h 80-120km/h: 6.80 sec 120-160km/h: 12.96 sec CLAIMED: VMax: 175 km/h Fuel: 5.5 l/100km CO2: 131 g/km Warranty/Service: 4y 120K/4y 60Kkm LIST PRICE: R241K RATED: 7