The new Ford Figo was launched late last month amidst much fanfare. It’s a car that has done well in its previous avatar in India so Ford has a difficult task at hand to replicate the success. In the mass market segment there’s no dearth of options and Ford knows that very well; that is why they believe that this new Figo is competent enough to take on the competition. The American car maker knows the numbers come from the business end of the market, and therefore the renewed focus on mass market cars first with the Aspire and now with the Figo hatch. Apart from the name there’s almost nothing similar to the previous generation. This one comes with a fresh design, new power trains and a host of features rarely seen in the segment.
Compare the Figo with the Aspire which was launched barely two months ago, and you can hardly differentiate between the cars. They look just the same and it’s only the boot on the sedan that differentiates between the former and the latter. There’s the same attractive front grille that reminds you of Aston Martin and the peeled back headlamps. The chrome defined frame and slats add a premium touch to the car. The twin colour side view mirrors add some variety to the design. The rear looks modern and clutter free with back swept tail lamps making their presence felt. The Aspire suffered in the design department in the rear simply because it had to be kept less than four metres in length but there’s no such problem with the hatch. Overall the car looks attractive; the design looks appealing yet subtle.
A major distinguishing factor between the Aspire and the hatch is that this one sees an all black theme instead of a black beige combination on the sedan. The now-popular sync system finds a place here too, but only in the top variants. Other variants have to make do with a cleverly designed mobile holding-cum-charging dock. There’s a climate control system and the AC works very well, negating any need for having AC vents on the rear seat. The wheelbase is the same as the Aspire which means there’s no dearth of space on either of the rows. Ergonomically, there are a lot of storage spaces all around the car. The boot also does not disappoint and the rear seats can be folded to create a much larger space for storage. Overall the quality of fit and finish could have been a bit better and clearly is not benchmark setting in the segment. The mostly analog meter console is simple enough to not attract your attention. And finally, we just cannot understand this increasing trend of not having grab handles because the car has airbags.
The suspension is tuned more to handle the city bumps and potholes and that is where you’ll spend more time in this car, not really on the Yamuna expressway. The fact that it comes with a ground clearance of 174 mm, which the best in its class, works in Figo’s favour.
Ford’s media drive on the Figo took us to Agra from Delhi via the Yamuna Expressway. Clearly one the safest roads in the country to drive on, the expressway offers a combination of high speed straights, some long curves and a few inclines. With minimal traffic, it is also a good place to test some high speed braking. We had the top diesel variant and an automatic version of the car to test and drive. And while this fast highway may not be an ideal place to test a lightweight small car, the Figo surprised us with good ride and handling experience. The suspension is tuned more to handle the city bumps and potholes and that is where you’ll spend more time in this car, not really on the Yamuna expressway. The fact that it comes with a ground clearance of 174 mm, which the best in class works in Figo’s favour.
The 112 horses under the hood of this 1.5 litre petrol surely make the Figo automatic and able performer. It’s a car that’s made for the congested city traffic and also gives you a pleasant surprise on the highway. The dual clutch six-speed gearbox hardly suffers from any lag and the engine is smooth, refined yet sporty. For the last bit you have to put the car in the sport mode to feel a clear difference between the two driving modes. However, we have to say, when compared to something like a Volkswagen Polo Tsi this gearbox falls a bit short. But at 17 kmpl this gearbox is out to ensure that your trips to the fuel station aren’t very frequent.
The 100 PS 1.5 litre diesel engine has always been an able performer. Here the peak torque kicks in earlier than the 1.5 petrol thereby making it sporty enough. The gearshifts are smooth here a well and the light clutch makes it a seamless drive. Despite being a diesel the cabin is well insulated and there hardly any noise that creeps in once the windows are rolled up. According to ARAi this engine on the Figo will deliver a mileage of around 25 kmpl on a litre of Diesel.
The Figo is big on safety as it includes features like ESP, Traction control and the much needed hill launch assist. However, with respect to some more safety features the Diesel scores over the petrol with the automatic missing out on things like the smart key that limits the top speed and entertainment system volume controls. The highlight is of course the presence of at least one airbag on every single variant while the top variant comes with as many as six of them.
In all there are 12 manual variants of the car of which 6 are petrol and 6 are diesel. The lucky 13th one is the Automatic variant. Prices of manual petrol start at Rs 4.29 lakh and go up to Rs 6.4 lakh. The diesel variants range from Rs 5.29 lakh to Rs 7.4 lakh rupees. Finally, the Auto variant can be yours for Rs 6.91 lakh. That means Fords is ready to take the competition head on with an impressive car which only means good news for you the consumer.
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars.