In its 20-year existence in India, Ford’s product portfolio has never been as strong as it is right now. EcoSport has settled into a rhythm, Figo Aspire has gotten off the mark strongly, all-new Endeavour is just around the corner and next gen Figo hatchback is here to take the baton from its venerable ancestor. In other words, Ford India is no more a single-product-driven automaker.
That said, new Ford Figo hatchback is easily the most important product of the lot simply because it encompasses a wide, highly lucrative market segment. With the sheer width of its price range and depth of its equipment list, new Figo can happily pick a fight with anything from Maruti Celerio on the lower end all the way up to Hyundai Elite i20 on the premium end of the spectrum.
It hardly has anything to find fault with on paper but is it that good on the road as well? Having lived with good old Figo for quite some time, we landed in Delhi, naturally with high expectations, to test the new car. Read on to find out if the delightful recipe has been retained.
A quick glance at new Figo is more than sufficient to observe that the designers have promptly addressed the original model’s biggest shortcoming. The hatchback faithfully treads along the design direction taken by Figo Aspire, so much so that it’s nearly impossible to spot the difference between the two models when viewed head on.
Yes, the trapezoidal front grille is dangerously close to that of an Aston Martin but it does manage to render a fresh appeal to the hatchback. Large headlamps that extend all the way to front fenders and circular fog lamps located on edges of the bumper help the sense of width. A subtle ridge on the bonnet and a simple secondary air dam underscored by a slit complete the front end design.
There is nothing dramatic about the hatchback’s profile but a confident stance, combined with neat sheet metal surfaces, gives it a contemporary appeal. The tapering rear fascia complements the rest of the car while retaining its predecessor’s DNA in the process. Aspire-like taillights, muscular rear bumper and roof-mounted taillights collectively offer a good visual balance.
The dashboard design and layout are shared with Figo Aspire but the hatchback adopts a sporty all-black color theme instead of a dual-tone treatment. The centre console fascia, steering wheel and arm rests on the door pads sport silver accents while the circular AC vents on either side of the dashboard receive chrome highlights. The dashboard is made of hard plastic elements but has a long lasting feel to it. The overall material and build qualities are impressive buy may not be the best in the segment.
Fords have always offered sound driver ergonomics and with RHD-style indicator and wiper stalks, Figo hatchback only takes it a notch higher. All vital switch gears are where they are supposed to be and offer a tactile feel. We particularly like the multi-function control cluster on the right side of the steering wheel which incorporates controls for headlights, fog lights and boot release.
The front seats too are identical to what we saw in Aspire. The comfort level is high with adequate lumbar and thigh supports but generously proportioned persons may find the front seats a tad too small. The glove compartment offers decent volume and there are enough bottle and cup holders at the front.
With optimum seatback inclination and thigh support, the rear bench too is comfortable but the adjustable head rests, rear AC vents and bottle holders on the door pockets are sorely missed. Also, the space underneath the front seats are not really usable. Thanks, to the centre tunnel, Figo works best only as a four seater.
To sum it up, new Figo boasts of one of the most spacious and well equipped hatchback cabins in its segment right now but there is a room for improvement.
Features and safety
Considering that the Indian hatchback segment is a hotly contested one, Ford has not taken any chances with the features list. We are glad to see safety being prioritized. The fully loaded Titanium Plus trim comes packed with six airbags, ABS with EBD, ESP, perimeter alarm, SYNC 2.0 multimedia infotainment system with AppLink, automatic climate control, electrically powered wing mirrors, power windows, multifunction steering wheel, alloy wheels, fog lights and so on. The automatic variant comes equipped with traction control and hill hold assist.
A touchscreen infotainment system complementing the SNYC 2.0 would have gone a long way in further enhancing Figo’s appeal in today’s highly competitive market.
Engine and Gearbox
This again is a familiar territory as the powertrain lineup is shared with its compact sedan sibling. We sampled the 1.5-litre Ti-VCT petrol and 1.5-litre diesel variants. The hatchback is also available with a base 1.2-litre Ti-VCT four-cylinder petrol engine.
Petrol – 1.5-litre Ti-VCT
The 1.5-litre Ti-VCT motor is available exclusively with the PowerShift 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Offered only in the Titanium variant, the motor pumps out 112 PS and 136 Nm of torque, making Figo the most powerful hatchback this side of INR 10 lakhs. The motor is refined and has a sporty note when revved hard. It has enough grunt at the low end for easy city driveability. Power delivery is very linear and hence the motor doesn’t feel as fast as it actually is. The undramatic mid-range is followed by an energetic top-end which produces impressive results between 4,500 to 5,500 rpm.
The 6-speed PowerShift dual clutch gearbox is tuned to offer better driveability rather than an outright sporty character. The shifts are reasonably smooth and quick but the engine struggles to keep pace with the transmission. This makes the gearbox kick down two gears at once more often than necessary.
The S mode also offers gear selector-mounted “+” and “-” buttons which take a bit of getting used to.
Figo 1.5 Ti-VCT variant works well as a comfortable and fuel efficient automatic city car and it’s not really targeted at the enthusiastic drivers.
Diesel – 1.5-litre TDCI
The four-cylinder 1.5-litre diesel motor is available in the same state of tune as in Figo Aspire and that’s a great thing. The oil burner generates an impressive 100 PS at 3,750 rpm and 215 Nm of torque at 1,700 – 3,000 rpm. Paired to a 5-speed manual transmission, the motor puts many bigger diesel cars to shame with its sheer performance.
The magnificence of the motor lies in its ability to offer a great low speed driveability along with a delightfully strong surge of power almost throughout the rev range. Performance gets explosive as the tacho needle approaches 2,500 rpm and from that point on, Figo diesel leaves pretty much everything on the road at its wake. The motor can cruise at some serious triple digit speeds all day long without complaining. The best part is, despite its strong performance, it is up there with the best in segment when it comes to fuel economy (figures given below).
The gear shifts are a bit rubbery and lacks the positive feel that the older Figo was appreciated for. The clutch pedal is light by diesel engine standards and is consistent. To sum it up, Figo diesel is a long legged cross country tool which pushes the segment’s powertrain benchmark to a new level.
The 1.5-litre Ti-VCT petrol engine has an ARAI certified mileage of 17 kmpl. We managed to extract a indicated 12.7 kmpl which is decent considering that the motor was made to work hard under both urban and highway conditions.
The diesel motor returned an indicated 22.4 kmpl in the first phase of our drive which involved heavy Delhi traffic and an open Yamuna Express Way sprint. The second phase involved some heavy footed affair which brought down the figure to 18.4 kmpl which is still good.
Ride, Handling and Braking
The original Figo’s USP was its near perfect ride and handing balance which satisfied both enthusiasts and typical family car owners. Fortunately, Ford India hasn’t changed that strong underlying character which defines the nameplate.
The suspension is a wee bit softer, resulting in corresponding body roll but the composure around corner, road holding and the predictability have been retained. Figo isolates the occupants from most road imperfections both at slow and high speed situations, making it one of the most comfortable vehicles in the sub-10 lakh category.
The EPAS steering is no match for the older car’s exceptional hydraulic unit as far as feel and feedback are concerned but that said, it weighs up nicely (more so in the diesel variant) and is great fun around corners.
Braking is taken care of by front discs and rear drums, supported by ABS with EBD. The system offers optimum bite and excellent feedback on the pedals. Under panic braking, Figo decelerated quickly and efficiently without any fuss as expected.
New Ford Figo builds up on its predecessor’s proven formula of offering great value for money in addition to successfully addressing the power deficit and aesthetic shortcoming. It continues to be fun to drive, spacious, well equipped and very efficient while getting much more safer.
The diesel variant in particular has a wide range of talents which is surely going to give the rivals a tough time in the years to come. To put it in a single sentence, new Figo has got what it takes to recreate the strong impact the previous gen model had on the Indian hatchback market.