2015 Ford Figo First Drive Report
Given an option to choose a car for the urban background, there are strong chances that majority of people will pick a hatch and the reason for that is they are small and thus can be easily karted around corners and lanes. Some of them are also fun to drive, provided the maker injects some level of enthusiasm in the motor.
The Ford Figo, launched in 2009, was one such hatchback that combined practicality with decent levels of driving pleasure. It helped Ford become a popular brand as India’s love for small cars has always been very strong. Post the launch of Ecosport, the perception of the brand has completely evolved from just another car maker to a more matured and responsible manufacturer making cars keeping safety and innovation as key aspects.
And Ford doesn’t want the momentum to drop which can be seen with the launch of the Figo Aspire followed quickly by the new Figo. The former, though still new, is already making its presence felt while the latter’s battle with the erstwhile leader begins now. How does it fair against its rivals, we find out in our first impression report.
Much as expected, the new Ford Figo shares about 90% of design elements from its sedan sibling. Engineers claim that both these models were developed simultaneously from ground up. Compare it with its earlier version and you realize that the new Figo has got serious levels of changes making it brighter and fresher than before.
The larger well rounded dimension is the first thing you notice on a first impression. Thanks to a radiator grille, which resembles that of a Bond car, the front has an expressive profile with well defined large headlights. The profile lines that run on the front hood meet the grille at a higher temple point. To make sure it attracts many, the grille gets a chrome garnish with multiple slats running along its width giving it a wider stance. The central air pocket on the bumper and the fog lamp surround get a matte cladding.
Interestingly, the wheelbase of the Figo is similar to that of the Figo Aspire which translates into the fact that the occupants inside enjoy a spacious cabin. External mirrors get turn indicators integrated in them and also seen is a tiny chrome patch to initiate a profile line on the side. The side mainly consists of blackened pillars, relaxed roofline, a strong shoulder line and also identical alloys running on 175/65 R14 tyres.
The rear looks similar to the earlier generation Hyundai i20 and doesn’t really bring in any excitement. The large boomerang shaped tail lights with a bulging boot lid and quintessential additions look a tad too basic. We appreciate the fact that Ford has made a larger and fresher car but at the same time we aren’t too happy with the final resultant as it clearly lacks the enthusiasm in design.
It looks like a pair of simply stitched trouser compared to a rather lavishly made jean. And this is Ford, the maker of iconic cars like the Mustang and Focus. Not that an understated design doesn’t sell but only if there is a certain degree of sophistication. If only the new Figo too had some enthusiasm in its design raising aspirations of the target audience.
Inside the new Ford Figo, you won’t feel cramped at all and that is because of the spacious interiors. The taller roof and reasonably longer length that has made a great difference in terms of cabin comfort. Also, this one comes with multiple safety features which make it one up against the competition.
The dashboard layout is simple and uniform as seen across the portfolio models. However, unlike the Figo Aspire, this one makes sue of charcoal finished trims and panels. This was presumably done to give the hatchback a sportier and younger treatment compared to that in the sedan, with its beige combo, targets a matured audience.
The controls to operate the entertainment system and toggle between Sync options are mounted on the steering wheel. The instrumental cluster is simple and comes with analog display along with digital information catering to trip readings, average fuel consumption, odometer and instantaneous average. The benefit of Sync is only available on Titanium + variants while the others make use of an innovative MyDock system which has a provision to hold a Smartphone and also lets the occupant connect the phone with the car using Bluetooth; acting as a convenient navigation entertainment screen.
You can also play with various options on the central unit which lets you change modes and also pair phone using BT telephony. The only issue is the slender size of the screen. Most other manufacturers are moving towards larger screen size with a feature rich unit, the one in Ford cars seems dated. Should it be blamed on pricing?, well, the Renault Kwid which sits an entry level range sports a touchscreen satellite navigation system.
Moving on, the central layout is simple and features AC controls along with an additional recess underneath mainly to hold a mobile phone or two. Have a detailed look of the cabin and you shall accept that practicality and storage comes in abundance is this small Ford car. The glove box is spacious, the central console has multiple cup holders, there is one for rear occupants, the front door trims too have liquid container pockets with space to take care of mundane articles. The only aspect which has taken a bit of hammering is the rear boot space, which has gone down cause of the body type and also the spacious cabin space has eaten into it.
Alright, so we have a car that looks functionally fresh and has practicality sorted interiors but the main question that arises is how it feels on the road and to exactly know that, we sampled the automatic motor first. It uses a naturally aspirated 1.5-litre TiVCT motor that makes 110 Bhp of power and 136 Nm of torque. This motor is mated with a Powershift 6-speed automatic transmission with a manual mode as well.
To begin with, this motor is the most powerful in its segment and perhaps the best too, on paper at least. Get it in D-mode and the linear power delivery is in action. At initial speeds, the sluggish nature of the motor gets highlighted but that only happens if one goes too enthusiastic on the throttle. There is a subtle way of making the shifts happen and that is done by identifying the ideal gear at the given engine speed.
In traffic clad areas, the powershift was almost seamless except for a few confused shifts here and there. It did manage to create just about enough from the engine to keep the vehicle afloat others in a bumper to bumper situation. The light steering wheel further helped by making it an easy car to maneuver across traffic. In case the lag felt is too much, shift it to S-mode which doesn’t necessarily make things faster and quicker instead brings life to the shifts by holding on to the speeds till redline at 6500 rpm.
The initial gearing has been deliberately kept short and even in the sport mode, the shift to second happens at just around 4000 rpm. Not a performer but definitely a comfortable cruiser is how I like to describe this motor. It might be contrary to the usual me praising revv happy engines but for every day commute all that power and performance is a bit tiring.
Be it tackling morning office traffic or that evening trip to a shopping mall, the Figo automatic is extremely convenient. Once the shift pattern is known, it is a delight to drive. All these praises continue until you venture on highways. The high displacement naturally aspirated motor feels out of breath pretty soon. The lag is specially felt while overtaking and maneuvering the vehicle on ghats or tricky locations where you are forced to shift in to sports mode.
And just to take care of this concern, Ford offers a 215Nm making 100 PS churning 1.5-litre TDCi diesel motor paired with a 5-speed manual transmission; absolutely as simple as it sounds. This motor is clearly devised for the highway seekers and torque biters as the peak torque is available at an extremely humble 1750 rpm.
Comparing a naturally aspirated motor with a turbocharged diesel is not fair but you just can’t help but notice the motors well spirited heart. Normal maths shows that even at 1000 rpm, you are already sitting on 200 Nm meaning even at initial speeds there is enough punch from the engine. Shift to a higher gear, just for the sake of it, and make the engine revv at extremely low rpms, there isn’t any sign of wear or spluttering. It continues to drive at a steady pace. Going ahead, playing with the cogs on highways was super fun as overtaking and reaching greater speeds no longer needed calculated moves. Just a small click on the lane shift indicator and a gentle push on the throttle, it’s done.
The suspension setup is tweaked towards providing a softer ride, as it managed to take undulations with great confidence. The segment rivaling ground clearance of 174mm relieves you of any stress about the underbody getting bruised on an unpleasant surface. While the independent suspensions do their bit to absorb the disturbances, the insulation inside the cabin doesn’t let any of that seep inside keeping the occupants completely inert of the rough surface. Standard on all variants are disc brakes for front and ventilated on the rear. They provide enough bite to make sure the vehicle can be brought to a standstill without much drama.
|Engine||1.5 TDCi (Diesel)||1.2L Ti-VCT (Petrol)||1.5L Ti-VCT (Petrol)|
|Power in PS/RPM||100 / 3750||88 / 6300||112 / 6300|
|Torque in Nm/RPM||215 / 1750 - 3000||112 / 4000||136 / 4250|
|Gears||5 - MT||5 - MT||6 - AT|
|Wheel base mm||2491||2491||2491|
|Ground clearance mm||174||174||174|
|Fuel tank capacity L||40||42||42|
|Tyre Spec||175 / 65 R14||175 / 65 R14||175 / 65 R14|
|Leather Seat Upholstery||No||No||Yes|
|Driver Seat Height Adjustment||No||Yes||Yes|
|Guide Me home headlamps||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Automatic Climate Controls||No||Yes||Yes|
|Steering Mounted Audio and Phone Controls||No||Yes||Yes|
|SYNC with Voice Control||No||No||Yes|
|Driver & Passenger Airbags||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|ABS with EBD||No||Yes||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Engine||1.5 TDCi (Diesel)||DDiS||dCI|
|Power in PS/RPM||100 / 3750||74 / 4000||65 / 4000|
|Torque in Nm/RPM||215 / 1750 - 3000||190 / 2000||160 / 2000|
|Gears||5 - MT||5 - MT||5 - MT|
|Wheel base mm||2491||2430||2450|
|Ground clearance mm||174||170||150|
|Fuel tank capacity L||40||42||40|
|Tyre Spec||175 / 65 R14||185 / 65 R15||175 / 60 R15|
Well, not that we went all prose and poetry on the design of the new Ford Figo as it clearly falls short to evoke any sense of excitement and inside too, the interiors, though, superbly fulfill the rational demand but do not strike an emotional connect. However, these sections can be kept aside under the subjective tab but then there is something that we are forced to agree in unison.
Ford India has priced the New Figo with the right spirit of aggression. With a claimed mileage of 25.83 kmpl for diesel and 18.16kmpl for manual petrol, this one answers the needs of an efficient hatch seeker. The pricing of petrol variants start at Rs 4.29L while that of diesel at Rs 5.29L. Also, inspiring for other manufacturers, Ford offers driver airbag as standard across all variants. In addition, features like SYNC, Emergency Assist, ABS with EBD, Traction Control, Hill Launch Assist and many more shows that the brand cares about safety and offers features to support the same.
More than the technology bit, it is the various costs involved around daily running, servicing and maintenance which are of utmost concern while buying a new car. But the new age Ford cars won’t burn your pocket and make you frown anymore as assured by Nigel Harris, President and Managing Director, Ford India at a recent interaction. The brand has made sure that the maintenance costs of the Figo stand the lowest compared to its rivals and similar is thought behind the pricing of spares.
The number of child parts in new generation Ford cars has also increased making it a convenient option. Even the service intervals are considerably large negating the need to visit service stations often. The new Ford Figo with its functional and practical packaging will indeed be one of the strongest contenders in its segment.