NEW and tough ways of doing business, brought to the world by Covid-19, the virus that has changed life the way we know it, has forced companies to change the way they do business.
So, how does a motor manufacturer launch a new model at a time of working from home and social distancing?
Ford Motors South Africa has not only moved with the times but displayed admirable agility when it held its historic virtual launch of its latest addition to its family.
The new Ford Figo Freestyle – described by the manufacturers as the “cool, connected and capable compact utility vehicle – marks Ford’s presence in the compact utility vehicle segment – which is growing rapidly across Africa and the world.
The Ford Figo Freestyle is based on the popular Figo hatchback and complements Ford’s existing range of active lifestyle-oriented models, which includes the top-selling EcoSport compact sport utility vehicle (SUV), stylish and well-appointed Kuga and the impressively capable Everest seven-seater SUV.
“The All-New Figo Freestyle builds on Ford’s reputation as one of the pioneers of the utility vehicle segment,” says Doreen Mashinini, General Manager Marketing at Ford Motor Corporation South Africa (FMCSA). “With its SUV-derived design cues, robust stance with increased ground clearance and commanding seating position, it has the credentials of an SUV in a compact package that is ideally suited to city driving during the week and escaping to the countryside on weekends.
“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,” Mashinini adds. “With bigger wheels, an increased ride height and integrated skid plates that enhance its capabilities on less-than-perfect roads, the Figo Freestyle is designed to meet the aspirations of these young and dynamic customers. It is a cool, connected and very capable package.”
The Figo Freestyle enters the sub-B CUV sector offering superb value for money, an extensive list of standard features, enhanced versatility and a sporty and adventurous cross-over character. The eye-catching exterior styling is matched to an upmarket interior with sophisticated two-tone treatment and an outstanding array of Ford technologies that are designed to make the driving experience safer and more enjoyable.
Two models are available in the Figo Freestyle line-up, starting off with the Trend and headlined by the comprehensively appointed Titanium series. Both models are powered by Ford’s eager 1.5-litre three-cylinder Ti-VCT engine used in the rest of the Figo range. It boasts impressive outputs for its class, with 91kW of power and 150Nm of torque. Power is delivered to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox.
The new model is a robust and muscular compact utility vehicle (CUV) that combines SUV attributes and design cues in a compact car that looks modern, bold and assertive.
The purposeful and sporty stance is emphasised by the upmarket black painted grille, along with a new sculpted front bumper that not only inspires a sense of confidence but also adds to its rigidity. The distinctive double-spoke 15-inch alloy wheels are unique to the Figo Freestyle. They are framed by muscular black wheelarch mouldings that reinforce the adventurous theme, in conjunction with the creatively styled black foglamp housing accents. Special decals applied to the lower sections of the doors, along with “Freestyle” badging on the rear hatch, add further differentiation and youthful flair to this new model.
A key element of the Figo Freestyle’s design is the raised ride height of 190mm, which is 16mm higher than the standard Figo. This enhances the Figo Freestyle’s all-round capabilities for active, outdoors-oriented customers, while integrated front and rear skid plates provide an enhanced level of underbody protection when driving on rougher road surfaces. Roof rails are fitted as standard, which builds on the versatility of the Figo Freestyle’s design. They are immensely practical too, allowing the easy fitment of a roof rack to carry bicycles, canoes or other equipment to suit the owner’s sporting and lifestyle endeavours.
The Ford Figo Freestyle is available in six colour choices, including the striking new ‘Canyon Ridge’ that is unique to this model, along with Diamond white – both of which are solid paint finishes. Metallic paint options comprise Smoke Grey, Moondust Silver, Ruby Red and White Gold.
The creativity applied to the exterior styling is echoed inside the cabin of the Ford Figo Freestyle. The neatly laid out dashboard and door accents create an exclusive and sophisticated ambience. This is matched to an attractive blended seat trim design with distinctive striped elements in the centre which are offset against black trim panels on the sides. Contrasting stitching adds further visual appeal.
A soft-touch gear shift knob complements the Titanium model’s sporty steering wheel with remote audio controls, while practical touches on both derivatives include door scuff plates and durable all-weather floor mats.
Driving convenience is provided with the standard fitment of reverse parking sensors. The Trend is equipped with Ford’s clever Device Dock which includes Bluetooth, USB and Aux connectivity and a handy receptacle to hold a smartphone.
The Titanium series adds a reverse camera linked to the floating 6.5-inch colour display for the SYNC®3 system, which incorporates Bluetooth and voice activation that enables phone and audio functions to be controlled through intuitive, conversational voice commands. Owners can use their smartphone’s navigation functions and a variety of other apps in conjunction with SYNC®3 when seamlessly paired to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
Other features unique to the Titanium derivative include keyless push-start button, automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, automatic headlamp activation, and rain-sensing windscreen
As with the rest of the Figo line-up, the Figo Freestyle is powered by Ford’s lively three-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine. This unit is highly rated for its eager performance, producing 91kW of power at 6 300 r/min linked to a punchy torque peak of 150Nm at 4 250 r/min. Drive is to the front wheels via a five-speed manual transmission.
The standard safety and security package on the Trend model incorporates driver and passenger airbags, ABS brakes, remote central locking with drive-away locking function, electric windows all round, as well as a perimeter anti-theft alarm and engine immobilizer.
Additionally, the Figo Freestyle Titanium is equipped with side and curtain airbags, along with the innovative 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 altogether if occupants are not using safety belts.
All Figo and Figo Freestyle models come standard with Ford Protect which includes a service plan covering four-years/60 000km, three-year unlimited distance roadside assistance and four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty. This is complemented by a five-year/unlimited distance corrosion warranty. Service intervals are every 15 000km.
Model Range and Recommended Retail Prices:
Figo 1.5 Ambiente Hatch 5MT R202 100
Figo 1.5 Trend Hatch 5MT R 211 900
Figo 1.5 Trend Hatch 6AT R 235 900
Figo 1.5 Titanium Hatch 5MT R 235 700
Figo 1.5 Ambiente Sedan 5MT R 208 500
Figo 1.5 Trend Sedan 5MT R 217 300
Figo Freestyle 1.5 Trend Hatch 5MT R 226 700
Figo Freestyle 1.5 Titanium Hatch 5MT R247 500