There’s absolutely no denying that South Africans love crossovers but they’re often far too large for most peoples needs and more importantly the most desirable ones are very expensive. What do you do then if you seek a slice of that crossover lifestyle without completely breaking the bank? The answer is this, a relatively new breed of vehicle known as the compact utility vehicle or CUV.
The CUV we have here is the new Ford Figo Freestyle. It’s essentially a regular Figo that’s been tweaked to appeal to more adventurous buyers. We at MOTOR are fans of the base Ford Figo hatchback and rate it as a solid budget offering that’s spacious enough to comfortably fit four adult passengers. With this we have high hopes for the new Freestyle model as it needs to offer more than just a commanding driving position to beat its competitors.
The CUV segment has been growing steadily over recent years and appeals generally to a younger crowed as these vehicles lean towards offering great value for money as well trendy styling for considerably less than regular crossovers. This is not a market that’s absolutely flooded with competitors just yet but with the likes of the Suzuki Ignis and Renault Sandero Stepway leading the way the folks from Ford are looking to take their share of the pie.
The Figo Freestyle looks the part with lashings of crossover inspired bits found about the exterior. First off it rides taller than the regular Figo boasting a ride height of 190 mm. There are functional roof rails, a sculpted front bumper for a more purposeful look and black 15-inch alloy wheels that are framed by black wheelarch mouldings. All of these visual additions come together to easily differentiate the Freestyle from regular Figo models on the road.
For the inside of the Freestyle Ford has also attempted to transform the regular hatchback into one that’s deserving of the crossover name. The key changes include Freestyle branded aluminium door scuff plates and durable all-weather floor mats. The mats are great additions being made from rubber they are moulded to the floor and are fastened by clips too. They are easy to clean and even the boot has a rubber lining.
With the 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine pushing out 91 kW and 150 Nm the Freestyle offers impressive performance for a vehicle of its size and is teamed with a slick-shifting 5-speed manual. Thanks to a well sorted suspension and the 190 mm ground clearance the Freestyle offers reasonable driving characteristics on mild dirt roads.
One must remember that despite the looks it is still just a front wheel drive hatchback so it certainly has it’s limitations but the ride is far from jarring. However with no traction control nor stability control getting over confident on a loose surface could end in disaster. If driven rationally heading out into the country side and onto a gravel road the Freestyle feels well-suited for the job but we know that this vehicle will predominantly live in the city where it’ll make light work of urban potholes.
In a nutshell
Ford Figo Freestyle 1.5 Titanium
Supple suspension and 180 mm ground clearance great for rough roads
Lack of traction control concerning for inexperienced drivers
Engine: 1 496 cc, 3-cylinder petrol
Power: 91 kW @ 6 500 rpm, 150 Nm @ 4 250 rpm
Luggage capacity: 256 L
Tyres: 175/65 R15 Goodyear Assurance
Fuel Capacity: 42 L
Economy: 5.5 L/100 km (claimed), 6.3 L/100 km (tested)
Transmission: 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive
CO2 emissions: 131 g/km
Price (from): R268 500