The Figo Freestyle is the latest addition to Ford’s compact but now more practical line-up. It boasts a raised ride height and more robust design, putting it squarely in the sights of the Toyota Etios Cross, Renault Sandero Stepway and even the VW Polo Vivo Maxx.
The Ford EcoSport is a dominant player in its segment but the smaller Figo Freestyle will indeed capture the attention of those in a lower band of the market. Pricing starts at just over R220,000.
FREESTYLE: CLEARLY A FIGO
There’s no mistaking the Freestyle for anything other than a Figo. It is set apart thanks to its 190mm ground clearance, a revised front bumper, decals on the flanks and black wheel arch mouldings that blend into the front and rear bumpers. Tinted windows all around add a touch of cool, while roof rails add more practicality. You’ll also notice the silver skid plates for peace of mind when venturing out of the city with bikes or canoes strapped on.
In this segment, the trend seems to be on differentiating on quirky or funky styling to appeal to a youthful audience, and I think Ford has done so with enough of a statement without being over the top.
Ford has launched the Freestyle in Trend and Titanium trim levels. The Trend represents the entry-level Freestyle but its competitively equipped with the features and niceties that buyers are looking for as standard fare: safety, comfort and connectivity. Airbags for the driver and passenger as well as ABS braking make it adequately equipped in this segment. Electric windows front and rear, air conditioner as well as central locking are also standard comfort and convenience features whilst Ford’s connectivity on the Trend includes USB, Aux and Bluetooth. Ford’s nifty device dock above the infotainment unit is still a nice touch given our phone use in cars.
Titanium models feature a more upmarket interior treatment. Auto-dimming mirrors as well as auto wipers and lights come standard here. Ford’s SYNC3 system is fitted too, and allows for a number of connectivity and functionality options like voice control, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto as well as the USB and BT options mentioned for the Trend. Steering controls on the steering wheel are also specific to the Titanium, allowing the driver volume, track select and phone call acceptance/cancelation control.
Safety on the Titanium model is enhanced with curtain and side airbags as well as Ford’s MyKey. MyKey is a safety device best suited to parents of new drivers or perhaps fleet owners who need to have some form of control on their cars. Say you wanted to restrict top speed for instance, or reduce audio system maximum volume for safety’s sake or even to disable the audio system altogether if seat belts are not in use.
Both Ford Figo Freestyle models are powered by Ford’s 1,5-litre, 3-cylinder motor with 5-speed manual transmission. It’s an engine that is now familiar from the rest of the Figo range, good for 91kW of power and 150Nm of torque.
The Figo Freestyle represents an enhanced Figo offering with more appeal because of its practicality, robust design and ability matched by a competitive pricing and positioning in the market.
I anticipate the Figo nipping some sales from the Renault Kwid or Datsun Go in addition to those buyers that are against some of the other rival badges and/or prices.
MODEL RANGE AND PRICING
Figo Freestyle 1.5 Trend Hatch 5MT(manual) retails from R226,700.
The higher-spec Figo Freestyle 1.5 Titanium Hatch (manual) retails for R247,500.
These cars come standard with a four-year/60 000km service plan, three-year roadside assistance and four-year/120 000km warranty.