Watch Exclusive First Drive of Ford Figo
We’ve seen a lot of successful hatchbacks turning into sub-4 metre compact sedans in the recent past. However the trend saw a flip last year when Tata launched its Zest in the first place instead of hatch counterpart Bolt. Now following the same path, Ford introduced the compact sedan Figo Aspire last month and the hatch sibling made its way earlier this week. While the Aspire was marked as an impressive overall package in our road test, will the hatchback be able to live up to those expectations? Let’s find out!
Till the B-pillar, there’s nothing to differentiate the Figo from its boot-ed sibling Aspire. It gets an identical front fascia having the similar Aston Martin-esque radiator grille with four horizontal chrome-dipped slats and same set of sweptback head-lamps. The V-shaped sculpture that connects the A-pillars to the grille and an evident power dome on the centre of the bonnet adds a bit of masculinity to the overall look.
Moving towards the side profile, it looks quite neat and proportionate with the roofline flowing quite seamlessly into the tail, though the 14-inch alloy wheels look boring and act as a spoil-sport. Around the back, the raked rear windshield looks good and beneath that runs a strong crease from where it is mostly vertical down below.
Unlike the black-beige theme on the Aspire, Figo gets an all-black treatment though the dashboard layout and silver plastic inserts remain identical. The 3-spoke steering wheel with mounted audio controls has also been retained and offers height adjustment. While the top-of-the-line variant, which we drove, comes with a digital read-out atop the dash for the SYNC infotainment system, the lower trims features simple-yet-smart MyDock phone holder. This feature is a boon for people like me, who often forget ways and use their phone’s GPS system.
The centre console has a small display and host of buttons for different functions that seemed a bit cluttered. While the overall quality is just above average, the fit-finish of the climate control dials is quite impressive.
In terms of space and comfort, the new Figo outshines any of its close competitors. There’s enough space in both rows and the seats are very comfortable and offers ample support. In the rear, there’s enough room for the occupant’s legs and knees even with a driver of tall frame, thanks to its best-in-class wheelbase of 2,491mm. Also, scooping out the front seatbacks has helped free up crucial space here.
This extra bit of space for the passengers at the back has resulted in a smaller boot – in fact its 30-litres lesser than the predecessor. Most importantly, it now gets rear power windows, which Ford somehow forgot to give in past so many years.
Engine & Performance:
The 2015 Figo is being offerd with three engine options - an 87bhp-1.2 litre Ti-VCT petrol, a 99bhp-1.5 litre TDCi diesel and a 110bhp-1.5-litre Ti-VCT petrol. These are the same powertrains that works under the hood of Figo Aspire in the same state of tune. While the first two engines get a 5-speed manual gearbox, the last-in-the-list more powerful petrol unit gets the segment first dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
While the manual petrol Figo was unavailable for the test, I drove the diesel and petrol automatic and have come away quite impressed.
The diesel first. From Delhi’s traffic to hitting the top whack of 182(with more to go) at the Yamuna Express way, the 1.5-litre oil-burner performed brilliantly in every given condition. It has an extremely wide power band with the turbo kicking in little above the 1,500 rpm mark and thereon power is evenly delivered until the 4,000 rpm mark. Though the gearing is well sorted even for city use, the gearbox doesn’t hit the right string and feels a bit rubbery. On the whole, this is undoubtedly the best diesel car you can own in the segment.
On the way back from Agra, Figo automatic was my companion for the journey. Now this one comes with a 6-speed DCT or dual-clutch transmission with 109bhp of max power on tap, making it the most powerful automatic hatchback in its segment.
Slot the gear into D and a jerky push greets you. In slow moving traffic, the clutch engagement can be easily felt and shifts aren’t that smooth, which is certainly disappointing. But once you touch the higher RPM band, the gearbox gets comfortable and responds well to changes in throttle position. With light foot, the shift happens a bit below the 2,500 rpm mark, but it holds to about 6,300rpm when you try to go enthusiastic with it.
There’s a Sport mode on offer as well where you get an option to shift gears manually. It won’t hold gear beyond the 6,300rpm mark but lift off the throttle and the gearbox does well to downshift and bring revs right into the heart of the powerband. However, there’s no Tiptronic on offer and you have to use small ‘+/-’ buttons on the side of gear lever for shifts, which takes a little time to get used to.
Overall, this version of Figo can be quoted as a comfortable and fuel efficient automatic city car, but if you were expecting it to do a Volkswagen GT TSI for you, then that’s not the case.
Ride and Handling:
The second generation Figo is based on an all-new B572 platform that underpins the Aspire as well. Suspension is more city-focused and McPherson struts works upfront in an independent setup with coil springs and an anti-roll bar, while a semi-independent twist beam axle with coil springs does duty at the rear. The car rides well over the big bumps, however, the smaller undulations do unsettle it a bit. The ground clearance has been increased from the earlier version to now 174mm, which is the highest in the segment and might act as a USP for new Figo in the non-urban areas where road conditions aren't good as cities.
Unlike the earlier Figo’s go-cart character, steering on this new version is a bit on the lighter side and doesn’t exactly weigh up with speed. Though the high-speed stability is impressive and it still feels more stable than most hatchbacks in the market except the Volkswagen Polo.
The 2015 Ford Figo comes loaded with a driver side airbag as standard across all trim levels, while all variants above the base model come equipped with dual front airbags. The top-end Titanium variants get segment-leading six airbags and ABS(anti-lock braking system) with electronic brake force distribution. While the petrol automatic gets traction control, ESP(electronic stability programme) and hill hold function in addition to all bells and whistles available on the range-topping model.
Ford has tried to address all the issues that the old model had and now ticks all the right boxes in terms of features, performance as well as the ride. The carmaker has priced the new Figo very competitively and special offerings such as ‘Total Maintenance Plan' (TMP) which offers fixed maintenance cost for the next 3 years, ensuring protection from inflation and rise in costs of parts and labour, makes the Figo a worthy competition for Maruti Suzuki Swift and Hyundai Grand i10.
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