My youngest daughter, Courtney, is somewhat of a petrolhead. I mean why wouldn't she be? She has grown up in a household surrounded by all sorts of motorised machinery, from the fast to the ridiculous. And when I say petrolhead, I mean she actually likes to drive and wants to understand the way a car works and reacts on the road and the track. Ironically, her older sister, Bronwyn, couldn't be bothered with the details; she just wants a car that looks good. And as a result, she only got her herself an "automatic" license, because driving a manual car...
My youngest daughter, Courtney, is somewhat of a petrolhead. I mean why wouldn't she be? She has grown up in a household surrounded by all sorts of motorised machinery, from the fast to the ridiculous. And when I say petrolhead, I mean she actually likes to drive and wants to understand the way a car works and reacts on the road and the track.

Ironically, her older sister, Bronwyn, couldn't be bothered with the details; she just wants a car that looks good. And as a result, she only got her herself an "automatic" license, because driving a manual car is too much admin according to her.

Courtney on the other hand wants to drive everything. So a month ago, when I introduced Ford's all new Figo Freestyle to you, one of the ideas behind this short-term test was to teach her how to drive a manual car. The Figo Freestyle turned out to be the perfect candidate for this task. The clutch action is light and easy, and the accelerator not overly sensitive. The 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine, known internally, and somewhat humorously as the Dragon, produces 91kW/150Nm, delivers a nice relaxed flow of power and torque, and it is these combinations that make this little Ford so easy and pleasant to drive.

Mastering manual shifting made easy in the Ford Figo Freestyle

Did I need plenty patience and perseverance like I thought? No. Courtney has been cruising around all over the place in automatic cars and knows what she is doing. So, without so much as a single tantrum from dad, she has mastered the art of being able to regulate the clutch and the accelerator to pull off and get going. Sure, she still battles a little with nailing every gear change once on the move, but this is something that will improve in time.

What also helped was the standard fitment of reverse parking sensors, and Ford's smartphone dock which includes Bluetooth, USB and Aux connectivity and a handy receptacle to hold a smartphone for the obligatory tunes that have to be played at all times.

Some of the other positives of owning a Figo Freestyle is that comes in at a competitive selling price of R226 700 for the entry-level Trend tested, which includes a four-year/60 000 km service plan and a four-year/120 000 km warranty. With your service needs covered, our real-world fuel consumption that came in at a decent 7.0-litres per 100 km, didn't break the bank either.

Mastering manual shifting made easy in the Ford Figo Freestyle

There were one or two personal opinions of the Figo Freestyle that could be seen as negatives but aren't really. The first one is purely subjective, and that was that Courtney wasn't in love with the styling of the car. The raised stance, black painted grille, wheel arch mouldings, and fog lamp housings, along with new front bumper and double-spoke 15-inch alloy wheels just did not rock her boat. Kids nowadays all grow up wanting Volkswagen Golf GTIs and BMW M135is.

The one thing that I would have liked to have seen was the fitment of traction/stability control on the car. Young drivers are most vulnerable to doing stupid things while driving and need the car to help them as best it can when things go wrong. This said, the standard safety and security package on this Trend model incorporates driver and passenger airbags and ABS.

All in all though, the Ford Figo Freestyle is a competent little car that filled our need for easy going, economical, budget friendly transport, while allowing my daughter to experience a manual driven car for herself.

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