Ford’s new budget crossover, the Figo Freestyle, is priced from R226,700. Picture: SUPPLIED
Ford’s new budget crossover, the Figo Freestyle, is priced from R226,700. Picture: SUPPLIED

Ford has long ruled SA’s compact crossover segment with its EcoSport, but now it’s launched the smaller and cheaper Figo Freestyle to take on midget contenders like the Suzuki Ignis and Hyundai Venue.

Based on the brand’s budget Figo hatchback, it is decked out in a more adventurous vibe with SUV-derived design cues like roof rails, black wheel arch mouldings, black grille, front and rear plastic skidplates, and decals.

It also rides 16mm higher than a standard Figo to give it a more commanding seating position. While the front-wheel drive Freestyle isn’t pitched as an off-roader, the generous 190mm ground clearance provides better dirt road ability than the run-of-the-mill Figo, while the car’s fitted with pothole-friendly, high-profile 175/65 15-inch tyres.

“It fulfils the growing demand from younger buyers for a vehicle that is more compact and affordable than the compact SUV offerings, but is equally capable and designed for adventurous, active and free-spirited individuals,” says Doreen Mashinini, Ford’s marketing manager.

Two models are available in the Figo Freestyle line-up: the basic Trend and the more comprehensively equipped Titanium. Both models are powered by the familiar Figo 1.5l three-cylinder petrol engine which sends 91kW of power and 150Nm of torque to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox, and claims a frugal 5.5l/100km fuel economy figure.

Inside, the mostly monochromatic cabin follows the blacked-up cues of the exterior, but is mildly brightened up with seat stripes and some contrasting stitching.

The entry-level Figo Freestyle Trend comes with conveniences including electric windows, remote central locking, reverse parking sensors and a Device Dock that incorporates Bluetooth, USB and Aux connectivity and a receptacle to hold a smartphone.

The higher-specced Figo Freestyle Titanium model has a colour infotainment system with a reverse camera. Picture: SUPPLIED
The higher-specced Figo Freestyle Titanium model has a colour infotainment system with a reverse camera. Picture: SUPPLIED

The Titanium comes with a more abundant luxuries list including a Sync3 infotainment system with Bluetooth and voice activation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, and a reversing camera.

Other features unique to the Titanium include a keyless push-start button, automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, automatic headlamp activation and rain-sensing windscreen wipers.

Safety-wise both versions get driver and passenger airbags with ABS brakes, with the Titanium additionally offering side and curtain airbags, and a Ford MyKey that allows owners to programme a key for younger drivers that can inhibit incoming phone calls, restrict top speed, reduce audio system maximum volume and disable the audio system if occupants aren’t using safety belts.

FIGO MODEL RANGE:

Figo 1.5 Ambiente Hatch manual — R202,100

Figo 1.5 Trend Hatch manual —  R211,900

Figo 1.5 Trend Hatch auto — R235, 900

Figo 1.5 Titanium Hatch manual — R235,700

Figo 1.5 Ambiente Sedan manual — R208,500

Figo 1.5 Trend Sedan manual — R217,300

Figo Freestyle 1.5 Trend Hatch manual — R226,700

Figo Freestyle 1.5 Titanium Hatch manual — R247,500

Includes four-year/120,000km warranty, four-year/60 000km service plan and three-year  roadside assistance.