One of my favourite weekend getaways from Mumbai is Alibaug. Located just 120 kms from Mumbai is Maharashtra’s version of Goa for people who are looking at a weekend beach getaway.
We were headed to Karpewadi resort in Alibaug in the Ford Freestyle. Here at Karpewadi, they practice sustainable management and encourage the guests to do the same. The term to describe it is an ‘agrotel’ where being one with nature is the central theme. You get private beach access, a range of activities to choose from on site as well. For people who like sightseeing, there are several such destinations nearby. The owners believe in a no- compromise approach to providing basic comforts with quality home – cooked cuisine.
The Freestyle was launched earlier this year. It fits into the cross-hatchback segment in India. Most other manufacturers have seen varying degrees of success with the models launched, now it was Ford’s turn to launch a cross version of their proven and successful Figo Hatchback. Of course, lots of changes have been incorporated into the Freestyle.
The first time you see it, barring some similarities in shape to the Figo, you get a different grille, bumpers, side skirts, fender extensions and alloy wheels! The new grille is sporty honeycomb design with glossy black treatment. The bumper is stylish looking with a plastic silver skid plate. On the side you have plastic claddings on the wheel arch & side skirt. This is accompanied by 15-inch split 4 spoke alloy wheels. Ford has added a racing stripe decal on the lower section of the doors which we like. There are luggage racks on the roof that can take up to 50 kgs in weight.
The Freestyle comes with 190 mm of ground clearance which is very good, specially when driving over bad roads!
Now let’s step inside…
Fully loaded in the truest sense is what the Freestyle is. A reddish-brown dashboard with glossy back accents. The infotainment and touchscreen package are something of a speciality with Ford cars. We specially like the digital compass!. A nice-looking instrument cluster greets you with silver accents which complement the dashboard. Seven cup and bottle holders are available between the door and center console! There is also a small soft touch shelf on offer below the climate control with another square cubbyhole to store small stuff! The seat upholstery is vibrant, the carpet mats are a modular rubber which are very easy to clean and maintain! There is a small hidden storage space inside the dashboard as well. Lots of storage space is on offer!
Two airbags, ABS and reverse parking sensors come as standard on all Ford models. The Freestyle gets six airbags on the top spec Titanium variant with electronic stability control (ESC), active rollover protection (ARP), and Traction control (TSC). This is first in segment feature. Ford’s emergency assistance program is available on the Freestyle which shuts off the pump and shares a GPS location with emergency services.
Let’s check out the engine…
This is a new petrol engine. The motor from the new Dragon engine family is a 1.2 litre unit that makes 95bhp of peak power and 120 Nm of peak torque. The new gear-box which is a 5-speed manual. Gear shifts are smooth and refined. The Freestyle comes with a lighter clutch which helps in the start stop traffic we face in cities.
We started early in the morning. Traffic at that hour is non-existent so it was a breeze getting out of Mumbai. Once we get onto the highway the kind of power sitting under the hood of the Freestyle became apparent. All the Ford cars I have driven down the years have super driving dynamics. The Freestyle is no different! Lots of power is available in the mid-range so one doesn’t have to shift down to overtake. One gets to three-digit speed very easily.
So far, the journey was on good roads hence the suspension of the car wasn’t really tested. That changed the moment we got off the Expressway. When we checked how far we were it showed 50 kms from our destination. Not much of a distance if the roads are good. But the roads just went from good to worse in a matter of a few kilometers. It was like we were transported 20 years back to a time when India still didn’t know the concept of expressways and good roads.
The Freestyle managed these roads well. The suspension and ride quality is good; it handles whatever is thrown at it. The feedback to the steering is direct, quick changes in direction are managed with ease.
The weekend spent in Alibaug driving the Freestyle was a breeze. Makes for a perfect companion on out of town weekend trips.
Pricing for the Freestyle petrol starts at Rs 5.09 lakh for the base model and going all the way up to Rs 6.49 lakh for the Titanium+ with the diesel ranging between Rs 6.09-7.89 lakh.