Ford Figo Automatic: Expert Review
Words & Photography: Atul Bandhu
The dual clutch to my relief is not a disappointment here, it fares out pretty well with the shifts being quick and precise.
Ford India launched the first generation Figo back in 2010 when first gen Swift was reaching its saturation with few to stand next to it. At that point the launch of Figo by Ford in the Indian market unsettled a lot of things. If you wonder Why, I am sure you haven’t driven the first gen Figo. That was a perfect driver’s hatch. Although it lacked I few horses but the sheer driving pleasure never made you miss those extra horses given the city and highway speed limits.
The new gen Figo however is not about the cat race in the segment, it is indeed establishing platforms recognition across segments. It is a shorter version of the new Figo Aspire Sedan. It completes Ford India’s profile with sub-4m sedan and hatchback package which was nowhere with previous gen Figo.
Figo gets similar engine options available with its sedan version i.e. the 1.2 Ti-VCT and 1.5 Ti-VCT AT in petrol and 1.5 TDCi in Diesel. It’s a completely new car so drawing parallels between this and previous gen Figo is not on our to-do list. This one is a hatchback version of the Figo Aspire and by releasing the sedan prior to the hatchback Ford has got us stuck on the sedan when given a choice between the hatch and the sedan, this priority to sedan was given by Ford by launching it first in the market and we couldn’t quite get out of it since.
We managed to get our hands on the 1.5 Ti-VCT AT not that’s not a fighter jet or a prototype name but that’s what people at Ford call the Automatic version of the Figo. Moving on from the nomenclature, I was informed that the car is equipped with a dual clutch technology. DSG popped up in my head too but knowing the patent wars waiting to be triggered I expected this one to be nowhere close. I tried to clear my line of thoughts to concentrate on what I had in hands, I can be quite fickle minded at times. So on the menu was a petrol Ford Figo with 1500cc of displacement and a dual-clutch setup…….sounds a lot tempting and to my liking this one is naturally aspirated.
The Figo is now longer, wider and a much better looking car compared to the car it replaces. The chrome slat front grills have grabbed the most attention in the Indian market courtesy its resemblance to the Aston Martin family. It’s a completely new car with no shades of its predecessor. The modern styling makes it one of the best or rather the best looking car in its segment. At front the car has a wide stance with wide and tall bumpers. As a result the headlamp cluster is rather placed rather higher, resulting in better illumination at night. The headlamp’s are aren’t square what we typically expect from Ford but they are quite angular and swept back to our surprise. The much talked about front chrome slat grill just adds a million more to the front profile of the Figo. Move over to the side and there nothing to complain or to appreciate, however the 14 inch wheels do look undersized with all that unutilised space in the wheel-wells. The rear end of the car is quite stylish compared to the last gen Figo, here the roofline ends high with the rear windshield and C pillar extending out to the boot. This should be the standard design language to be followed for hatchbacks sharing their platform with sub 4m sedans. The tail lamp design is protruding and carved to magnet the attention of anyone who can analyse the design in detail, the rear tail-gate is wide and long- giving the hatch a lower loading lip.
Step in and Ford has got no surprises for you the cabin is a very familiar one. Its much like the one we previously found in Fiesta, Ecosport and Figo Aspire. We actually have kind of grown fond of it, like standard interior design in VW’s and Skoda’s lineup. The all black theme is sporty and the materials are of good quality, so no questions raised in that department. The seats offer good support and finding a suitable driving position is a relatively easier task in here compared to its competitors. However the design of the entertainment system needs a major update, it has got a numerical pad for calling!!!! Its just like Ford telling us that the voice dialling features won’t cater to our thick Indian English accents. To my surprise even the buttons to pick or disconnect a call are placed on the dash and not on the steering wheel. Why Fod India Why…… Why are you being so torturous to your Indian customers?
I would also like to confess that the climate control dials here are the best dials I have ever turned for operating climate control in any vehicle. The finish, feel and movement of the dials is something else.
The rear seats can accommodate 2 adults comfortably and 3 with a lot of shoulder tackling with you fellow passengers. There are good number of storage spaces in the car, good enough to fix as many 1 Litre bottles required for 5 average individuals on a long journey.
The lack of front centre armrest makes the overall automatic driving experience less comfortable. Major minus points for this one.
The previous generation Figo bagged a lot of points as far as the drivability was concerned so this car had big shoes to fit into. The new generation Figo gets an independent front and semi-independent rear suspension setup. The ride quality is stiff but that eliminates a lot of body roll while fast speed cornering. The car manages to go over uneven roads and potholes with ease thanks to the built quality and 175mm of ground clearance.
The dual clutch to my relief is not a disappointment here, it fares out pretty well with the shifts being quick and precise. With the slot in Drive mode the car upshifts early and it has that uncanny stretching feel under spells of hard acceleration, for that we preferred to keep it in sports mode where one can rev it all the way to the redline. That alone is also not enough to feed the enthusiast inside you, there is an additional manual shift button on the right side of the shift level with a “+” & “-” sign to use it to upshift and downshift manually.
The 1.5L petrol unit here churns out 112 PS of power and 136 Nm of torque delivered in a linear way but the 6 speed dual-clutch needs constant work to be taken to its limit. The steering weighs up nicely and is quite direct. The brakes have a good bite but the smaller wheels do let it down sometimes. The 14 inch 175/65 tyres are specifically chosen to improve the fuel economy figures but they provide inadequate grip for fast speed cornering.
Features and Safety
Safety is what Ford is more known for in this segment. Ford India gives driver side airbags as standard across all variants and passenger airbags are standard second variant onwards. The car is also equipped with ABS, EBD and Traction control to ensure you are incharge of the car even under difficult circumstances.
The list of features include, Bluetooth connectivity, Ford MyKey, USB & AUX ports, keyless entry, climate control, turn indicators on the OVRM’s, electronically foldable and adjustable OVRM’s and in-numerous storage spaces.
What’s My Take
The looks of the car truly impressed me, it is one of the best looking hatchbacks on offer. The front chrome slat grill is a visual treat. I had big expectations from this hatch and it didn’t let me down. There was ample power of offer with just a tap, all thanks to 1.5L mill and dual clutch shift working in a nice sync. The cabin is comfy, the driving seat offered good support for long durations. The large glass area gave good visibility from the pilot seat. Adjusting the rear view mirrors was a pain. If you plan to buy this one I recommend a tyre upgrade. Pushing the car hard I found out that the chassis was indeed very capable and could handle even more.
Way to go Ford!!!! get us the 1.0 EcoBoost here soon. That’s just me being greedy for what I love the most so no guilt seeps in. Also watch out for the upcoming review of the diesel Figo.