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SK01 posted a topic in Driving in IndiaIt was February 2018, me and my father visited Malik Tata Bowenpally to enquire about Tata Tiago and Tata Tigor in our handsome shiny golden brown Honda City after a good leather upholstery polishing at Stunnerz. We we’re impressed by the car, the build quality and interiors, we felt it’ll be a good upgrade to my WagonR CNG which was showing its age after 3 years 65000 kms. We asked for a test drive and they couldn’t arrange. We were irritated by the sales team response and reluctance to sell their product. We stepped out. Fast it forward to August, my father who was driving my WagonR slightly brushed to the electricity pole in a narrow lane. The impact was small, but the damage was really huge. A thought to upgrade to a safer vehicle struck my father’s mind. Fast forward to November, we put our Wagon R on sale at OLX and sold it in 5 days for 3,25,000. Got to know the meaning of resale value. Booked Ford Freestyle after just one test drive. We were taken away by the car, it’s build quality, ruggedness, and not to forgot the punchy TDCi engine. Ford has always been my favourite brand, I always wanted to own it, drive it. And this time I got the opportunity, we wanted to book the car the very next day but being a Sunday it was delayed. Monday, after attending a club meet at my college, at around 3:00 PM I booked my car at Mody Ford Begumpet. It was Ford Freestyle ambient 1.5 TDCi oxford white which was booked and later upgraded to top of the line model Titanium 1.5 TDCi charcoal black. Dealership Experience: The delivery was done as promised in 5 days. Initially the dealership experience was really good. they treated us well, the car was delivered as promised and everything was good until I noticed what they have done. The dealership has given me 4 months old vehicle, which was lying in the stock yard without informing me and without giving any old stock discounts. Found it by decoding the VIN number. The old stock/first batch vehicle came with fixed rear headrests and the newer one which I was supposed to get according to Ford as I booked in November came with adjustable rear headrests. Multiple mails and calls to the dealership proved to be waste. After a week of follow up, a good member of the Ford Freestyle WhatsApp group forwarded me the mail IDs of Ford India top management. A mail to Mr. Anurag Mehrotra MD Ford India sorted out the issues and the dealer was ordered to replace the entire rear seat with the new ones. Experience with Ford India: I must say, the experience so far with Ford has been really good. Right from solving my issues with the dealer to addressing each and every minor issues in the vehicle for which Ford is known for. To be honest, Ford is not a reliable brand like the Maruti Suzuki, Honda or Toyota. It is known for those small yet really irritating glitches. But the way the company addresses the issues is what matters. And I must say, Ford outshines every other manufacturer in this department. We as a valued customer have the freedom to even talk to the bosses of Ford India and get the issue solved. Be it the General Manager of a dealership or Managing Director of the company. The mangers and general mangers (service) are always available on phone for our queries. Life With Ford It’s been 10 months since I bought the car and I’ve been to many road trips, explored many places, and done some really crazy things with it. So far So good. Stability, Steering Feel and Feedback, Braking, Ride Comfort, and Performance: The next month after buying the car we did a road trip to Vijayawada. Couldn’t go beyond 100 kmph as the vehicle isn’t supposed to go beyond 100 kmph before 2000 km checkup. while returning I touched 170 kmph effortlessly after 2000 km checkup at Laxmi Ford Vijayawada. No where I felt loosing the control of the car. After driving WagonR for 65000 kms this felt like a really big upgrade in terms of drivability and stability. The response from the steering was spot on. Though the brakes did not inspire confidence at last minute braking for the first 5000 kms of ownership because of over sensitive ABS now they are perfect. Crisp and spot on braking performance. Or dont know if I’m used to it. Ford Freestyle is built to tackle bad roads and those beautiful untouched, unexplored roads. This said, the ride quality will definitely be on the stiffer side making all those shocks on the bad roads creep in. We can feel the thud sound when the car goes over speed breaker, potholes even in very low speeds. The suspension is on the stiffer side making the car super stable during high speeds and super rough on the bad roads. Space is strictly adequate in the front row and strictly average at the rear and the boot. The driving position is commendable. We sit higher than many of the hatchbacks making us see the road clearly. The car sitting at a height of 190mm from the ground makes driving on worst roads a breeze. No worries of under body hits. The performance from the engine on offer is something else. It effortlessly touches 80 kmph in the second gear itself and 0-100 kmph in under 10 seconds making it one of the fastest car in India. This car even outshines VW Polo in terms of performance. This is the most economical, fun to drive car in India giving good fuel efficiency numbers. Even Ford EcoSport doesn’t offer the low end torque and that jump this car offers. Reason being same engine for a lighter car. Capabilities: Ford calls the Freestyle a Compact Utility Vehivle and in my opinion its justified. It is not just a raised hatch/hatch with cladding or hatchback in SUV cloths as claimed by few online forums. Having used this for almost a year, clocking 20,000 kms, going for some unexplored areas, I can confidently say that this means some serious business, built for a purpose, a very practice vehicle. If not for serious off-roading, this is made for serious travelling and to glide on those beautiful untouched roads... Safety: Ford is known for this. It’s always ahead of the other cars in the segment when it comes to giving safety features if not fancy features. 2 airbags ABS with EBD Reverse parking sensors Driver and passenger seat belt alarm is standard across all the varient in all the models of Ford Central Locking Speed sensing door locks Child safety locks Making it the most value for money varient. The top of the line varient Titanium comes with added features like TCS HLA ESP And the even premium varient the Titanium Plus comes with added features like 6 airbags SYNC3 system With all the above features. Road Trips: I’ve done many road trips in this 10 months. Multiple trips to Hyderabad-Vijayawada but there are few trips that standout, that tested my skills, that took me to places I’ve never thought I would. The first one being Hyderabad to Maredumilli This remains my favourite trip of all. This tested my skills on the ghat during heavy rains and low visibility, took me to a beautiful place called Pamulery Vagu inside the forest. It was fun driving this car in those ghats. Steering feel and feedback was really good and was spot on. This trip will be forever remembered. The engine sound coupled with cool breeze and nature sounds made this a really wonderful and memorable trip with my Ford Freestyle. Hyderabad to Yanam via Ramachandrapuram This place is really beautiful. I’ve been to Yanam in 2012 in our Swift Dzire. I was siting beside my father and was observing him cruising in that beautiful cool, rainy weather. I was 16 back then. Learning driving from my father in our colony roads. I was amazed by the way it cruised, clicked many pictures in my father’s Galaxy S3. I couldn’t know more about the place. All I knew was the beach and the beautiful Jesus statue. Nothing beyond that. This is 2019 and I was on the wheel with my father sitting beside me and my Sony A6000 DSLR in the rear seat to click the beautiful places. It was 4:30 in the morning, I fired the loud TDCi engine waking up others in my house at Ramachandrapuram. We hit the roads and it was all nostalgic. The roads were bad, full of potholes and very bad curves. This gave me a new experience to drive on those village roads full of potholes and truck traffic from the opposite direction with high beam. Made me explore Yanam and the nearby mangroves and getting to know the place beyond beach and of course the beautiful Jesus statue, reminded my father of his childhood and the hotel where he used to sometimes eat and now we having our breakfast which is still running with the same quality at Drakshramam. This also proved how beautiful my car is gliding over those big potholes with very loud and uncomfortable sounds in the cabin and zero underbody hits. making this another memorable road trip. Vijayawada to Hyderabad I’ve done multiple trips between Hyderabad-Vijayawada on our Honda City as well as Ford Freestyle as my father is posted there. But this will be remembered. This unexpected drive for few minutes under the railway bridge tested my knowledge on flood water driving, knowledge can be acquired by learning but not experience. And this kind of experience is very rare. This tests our skill, It’s a do or die situation. Drive well and come out of the pool or get stuck ruining your car permanently. The experience was all together a very different one. This kept me in a situation where It was all on me. No one to help me, guide me or drive the car. This proved the capabilities of ford Freestyle and my driving skills. The punchy low end torque never worried me or gave a feel of stalling. It never lost the grunt. I successfully came out of it which doubled my confidence in driving and my love towards the car. Accidents & Incidents It was 24th of April, 8:45 in the morning. I was driving towards Suchitra Junction to meet my father’s colleague and take my internship certificate which I forgot in her cabin the previous day. I tuned into 98.3 radio mirchi my favourite radio station and was just 5 minutes away from my home when the unexpected saddest thing happened. A construction truck which was coming from the opposite direction taking a 90 degree banged into my car’s rear third quater leaving a really bad damage. It was a hit and run case. Many villagers ran behind him but he fled away leaving me in utter grief. The impact was huge but the damage was small considering the impact. Did anyone remember this? “the impact was small, but the damage was really huge” “A thought to upgrade to a safer vehicle struck my father’s mind” and this proved to be the right choice, the safer vehicle. It was 31st of July, 3:30 in the evening, I was driving from Tellapur towards Kompally on ORR. An incident which taught me the meaning of hydro planning, made me realise the power of water and yet again made me fall in love with my car. It was raining, the road was good obviously because it’s the ORR a Hyderabadi drivers favourite, the road was empty and there’s a water pool that can be seen on the left most lane. A child in me touched triple digit speeds (100kmph) from 80kmph wanted to spill the water and went straight onto the waterlogged pool only to loose control over my car. The vehicle immediately lost traction, drifted towards the right, steering was out of my control for few seconds, I tried very hard to steer the car to the left keeping it in the lane and I succeeded. All thanks to the traction control that my car has. This taught me how much dangerous water can be and the force of water. Never after this incident I touched triple digit speeds during rains. To sum it up, Freestyle is a car that definitely puts a smile the drivers face. Particularly the TDCi. It’s rightly called a pocket rocket. Freestyle is not about luxury, its rugged, rough, not so comfortable when compared to the competition, the interiors are hard, the plastics are not placed well but as said before its lal about ruggedness and practicality. Once you are behind the wheel of a Ford you’ll forever be the fan of Ford. Srikrishna Bhavaraju A true Ford Lover