It’s a well known fact that the hatchback market in all its permutations, is a competitive hotbed for manufacturers. The likes of the Maruti Suzuki Swift and the Hyundai Grand i10 have raised the bar considerably, so it’s safe to say that if you intend to overthrow them, you’d better bring your A-game.
The first Ford Figo to enter the ring wasn’t quite up to the task. A fact which baffled enthusiasts since it was an excellent car to drive – it was very planted, had an excellent hydraulic power steering and a refined gearbox. What it lacked was a veneer of ‘premium-ness’ an intangible quality most hatch buyers seem to be after. The insides looked rather last decade and connecting to the Bluetooth was like arranging a Rubik’s cube with your tongue. Clearly Ford had to create a car that appeases both the factions.
This really is an ALL-new Figo. New platform, new looks and a 3 new powertrains. In mechanical terms the Figo hatch is identical to the Ford Figo Aspire. It gets the same three engine options in the same tune. The only difference lies in the price tag and storage space. Although the Figo Aspire is a handsome car, it’s true form is a hatchbacked one. The new Figo has enough design cues to trace it back to the Ford’s of the noughties, yet bears an unmistakable resemblence to the Focus and the Mondeo. It’s a very modern, fresh-faced look which is a huge advantage in a market filled with ageing designs. The whole exterior is draped with soft curves, with short overhangs and a higher driving position than the previous model.
The insides, once again, are identical to the Aspire. It’s got the same dash, the same 3-spoke steering and the same multimedia system. When compared to the previous Figo, things look decidedly more upmarket in here. There’s also a much greater utilisation of interior space in here since even the EcoSport, though high on quality, can feel a bit cramped. On all these counts the Figo has an advantage over the Grandi10. However they seem to have skimped on seat comfort, even though the overall quality levels are relatively high.
This is easily the most well-specced car in the segment. The top-end Figo gets 6 airbags, ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), height adjustable drivers seats, Ford MyKey, clown car levels of storage compartments. Much like the Aspire, save for the fact that the base Aspire gets driver and passenger airbags as standard while the base Figo only gets a driver airbag and costs Rs 70,000 less than its big-bottomed counterpart.
There are three engine trims available – the 1.2 litre Ti-VCT petrol, the automatic 1.5 litre Ti-VCT petrol and the 1.5 litre TDCi diesel. Curious to sample the automatic, I huddled into the 1.5 litre petrol. The 110 bhp engine is mated to a segment first, dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Pottering about the city feels great, there’s loads of low-end torque and truly refined shifts, especially when compared to the 4-speed auto from the i10 or any rivalling AMT unit. Take it onto an open stretch and the refinement levels drop just a bit as the the engine revs hard with quick throws pushing the rev needle higher. In ‘Sport’ mode the revs last longer, while the shifting fast. There’s also a small button on the side which lets you shift manually, but it’s a little too appliance-like, so it remained relatively unused.
But if you want a more raw and analogue experience – you go for the 1.5 litre diesel. This unit really is the business, with plenty of low-end and mid-range torque. Top-end levels could have been better but the needs pulls clean past the 175 kph mark and feels fairly comfortable while doing so.
The new Figo is a very attractive package. It packs several segment topping features while being competitively priced. While the 1.5 litre petrol automatic costs Rs 6.91 (Ex-Delhi), it packs the convenience of a dual clutch gearbox with solid levels of power (the Polo GT TSI’s bhp count is 105 while this is a 110 bhp with 13 kgm of torue)
The ride is perhaps a little more bouyant than the first-gen Figo, but this is fairly wholesome hatch, even in its base form which is priced at Rs 4.29 lakh. It’s intellegently designed, very spacious and practical while not compromising on trademark Ford performance.