The Ford Freestyle launched

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Team B&C /NT

Ford India introduced India’s first Compact Utility Vehicle, Ford Freestyle for consumers at a price starting from Rs 509,000

The all-new global product from Ford combines SUV-like robust design, benchmark performance, innovative technologies and outstanding fuel efficiency – for greater choice to customers. The brand new CUV is available in four variants across two fuel options and six colours.

“The all-new Ford Freestyle is a cool-new car for the young, new age, emerging Indian customers who aspire to own an SUV-like vehicle,” said Anurag Mehrotra, president and managing director, Ford India_ “The compact. utility vehicle is yet another segment created by Ford and will complement our existing portfolio of capable SUVs like Ford EcoSport and  Ford Endeavour.”

The Freestyle comes paired with Ford’s all-new, three-cylinder 1.2L TiVCT petrol engine that is small, light, strong and delivers outstanding fuel efficiency. The naturally aspirated engine will generate best-in-class 96 PS of peak power and 120 Nm of torque to deliver Ford’s fun ­to-drive DNA.

Consumers will continue to have a choice to opt for Ford’s trusted 1.5L TDCi diesel engine that generates class-leading 100 PS peak power and 215 Nm of torque.  Both engines are paired with an all-new, five-speed manual transmission that’s sportier, quicker and enhances its fun-to-drive capabilities.

This new manual transmission is almost 15 percent lighter and helps improve fuel economy while reducing NVH.  It requires 40 percent lesser gear oil than its predecessor  Drivers will experience slicker, more responsive gear shifts when they behind the wheel, enhancing Freestyle’s sporty appeal.

Meanwhile, during the launch of the freestyle, Ford confirmed to us that the EcoSport’s sportier version, the EcoSport S, will be launched in May 2018. It was spied a few days ago at a dealership and is essentially similar to a version Ford India exports to the USA (the US-spec EcoSport SES). That said, it won’t be as feature rich as the US-spec version, but will definitely offer more than what the already loaded Titanium+ packs.

The big news, however, is the comeback of the much-awaited 1.0-litre turbocharged EcoBoost petrol engine with the EcoSport S. The 1.0-litre EcoBoost is currently not available with the facelift model, which was launched late last year. Ford has told us that the EcoSport S will be offered only with the 1.0-litre EcoBoost, while rest of the engine options (1.5-litre petrol and diesel engines) will be limited to the regular model.

While the pre-facelift Ford EcoSport 1.0-litre EcoBoost was mated to a 5-speed manual transmission (codenamed iB5, currently offered with the 1.5-litre petrol and diesel engines), the upcoming EcoSport S will offer a new 6-speed manual. We believe that Ford will eventually replace the existing 5-speed manual across all the EcoSport variants with the new 6-speed manual. The automaker did the same with the Euro-spec EcoSport facelift. The EcoSport S will also come with reworked suspension setup for a sportier experience like the US-spec model.

Over the existing Titanium+ variant, the EcoSport S will offer a sportier exterior design with new gunmetal finished alloys, grille and outside rearview mirrors. It is likely to get Bi-xenon projector headlamps like the Brazil-spec EcoSport Storm edition.

On the inside, it will get colour-coded accents, fabric+leather upholstery and a sunroof! Also on offer will be an updated instrument cluster with a large colour driver info screen and chrome rings. It definitely looks better than what the EcoSport currently offers.

The Ford EcoSport S will surely attract a premium over the existing range-topping Titanium+ variant. The regular EcoSport Titanium+ petrol manual costs Rs 10.52 lakh and Rs 11.35 lakh for the automatic. The diesel Titanium+, on the other hand, retails at Rs 11.04 lakh (all ex-showroom, New Delhi). Taking into account the relatively expensive EcoBoost petrol engine and additional features, the EcoSport S is expected to be priced around Rs 11.5 lakh. The feature-loaded EcoSport is already more expensive than its direct rivals such as the Maruti Vitara Brezza and Tata Nexon, but it may find takers among those wanting a bit more performance from their EcoSport as well as potential Creta/Capturbuyers.