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Ford Figo

posted 24 Nov 2011, 04:01 by Sudeep Jaiswal   [ updated 21 Dec 2011, 02:46 ]
Author: Gikesh Nair

Ford India

Ford in India has seen its own ups and downs from the time it was launched in 1997 partnering with Mahindra. From the day it never really had a car that would be brought by the masses contributing to the popular appeal that Maruti or Tata had. This was again personified by the fact that it never really had a hatch back in India. Cut to Circa 2010 and Ford launched its first car for the masses with a view to regain the name and market that it had lost to cut throat competition.

Looks: 

Ford Figo comes from the line of good old small hatch backs that Ford is famous for. Their range of vehicles from the small Ka to the Focus, across Europe is unmatched for its reliability and the sort of fun factor that the car provides. Main among them is their largest selling car in Europe, the Ford Fiesta.

Figo is based on the same components and chassis available with the 2003 Ford Fiesta, which in itself had a mass appeal. This also is similar to the Ford Fiesta Sedan in India. This would be obvious by the major component sharing that is there with the last gen Fiesta and the Figo. But this also lets down as far as the looks are concerned.

Not that the Figo is bad at looks, the subtle lines and creases on the shoulders and those massively flared wheel arches, does let out a solid European look. That with Fords new Kinetic design theme (Which obviously removes the mesh from the front grills), the fiesta has its own identity in the crowd. But when it compares with the competition, the Beat being the best example, it somehow looks a generation old from the launch date. And those old fashion tail lights, they have lost their charm from the time the Indica V2 was launched.

Interiors:

The feeling “I have seen this before” continues with the interiors as they look directly out of the Fiesta. Nothing wrong by the basic looks as all things are ergonomically placed (the European indicator stalks might not go well with the masses), but the quality is let down. Wherever you touch the plastics give a feel that they are cheap. That aside they look good and feel good. The steering for example is one of the best in the competition which, is a bit large but feels great to hold and the rim thickness will excite the drivers. Also the gear lever with a metal garnish in top, matched to the excellent shift quality does give that feel good factor. The Stereo (Bluetooth enabled ) which comes standard on the Zxi and Titanium version is one of the best OEM stereos in the market and gives out a good mid range. Other things like the boot release switch on the dashboard and rotary knobs for headlight also are nice small touches. But the bonnet release button which is on the left hand side comes as a quirky logic carried out from the fiesta.

Front doors have got door pockets which is enough to carry 1 litre bottles and the glove box is quite commodious. The rear passenger tray is provided standard (unlike Maruti) and is wide enough for small loads. The driving position is good and ergonomics for the driver are great (any one for a heel-toe gear shifts?) Ingress and egress is good with wide opening doors. Built quality is generally good.

Space is good and comfortable for 4 and a half people, with good amount of rear legroom which can only be matched by the Indica or the Liva. It is even better than the more expensive Polo or even the Punto. But the seats, especially the front seat does not provide good lower back support, which might be needed on those long trips. It does give excellent side support with good levels of bolstering. Boot at 284 litres is large and is one of the best in class. The rear seats can be folded down completely if you ever think of moving your house.

Engine & Gearbox: Heart

The 1.2 litre petrol engine on the Figo can trace its birth from the 1.3 litre pushrod engine of the old Ikon. It is good and gives good mileage but is low on low down torque, which does upset the city driving. Making good use of the gears does help extract more power. But the diesel engine would be the main point of discussion as most of the people (around 85%) would buy the diesel.

The diesel Engine is the same Duratorq engine seen first in the fiesta. It is a 1.4 litre SOHC, 4 cylinder diesel engine which gives out a modest 68 bhp, which is enough to propel the car to an indicated 100kph in 19 seconds. Much slower than the India’s national diesel engine the 1.3 JTD seen in Swift, Indica and Punto (partly in the diesel Beat too). But Driveability of this engine is something of a proven point. It does not have the catastrophic lag that is present in the Fiats engine and gives a very good midrange performance. On the go, with a little lag in the lower revs (1800 rpm to be correct), it does better out after this. 

In normal city drives with AC the engine does feel low on power but on the highways it does manage itself out. Especially during the overtaking manoeuvres where you get the smooth midrange, enough to overtake those odd truck drivers. The gearbox too is out of the fiesta and gives a very good shift quality. It actually makes you use the gear, which with its short throws and minimal play feels fun to use.

Ride & Handling: Soul

Fords have never gone wrong in this department. From their earlier cars like the Ikon to the Fiesta and even the Figo the ride and handling does stand out. Figo has the perfect mixture of a big car ride quality, ironing out small bumps. It makes use of the same Macpherson struts at the front with a semi-independent rear with coil springs. This combination gives very acceptable ride quality with really good handling. It actually feels that the suspension can take more power as it gives very balanced performance.

This coupled with good brakes with ABS (Titanium version) and 14 inch tyres enhance the ride and handling package. The combination of a very direct steering, which is perfectly served and weighted with the good gearbox can make the driver to drive it like a hoot and enjoy. Cornering in nearly flat out and body roll is very well controlled, but the extra weight of the diesel at front might result in over steer during those mad cornering. But still it is very predictable and is even better than the older generation swift.

Ground clearance at 158mm is low and the car does tend to bottom out easily. This is also made scary by the fact Ford does not give an underbody protection, which will help to protect the fuel sump against the huge caters on Indian roads, known commonly as potholes.

Economy:

The 1.4 litre engine from the fiesta promises great economy with the company claiming 23kmpl. On a practical city run with traffic and AC do expect a mileage of 14-15 kmpl which will increase to 20 on the highway. A mixed figure of 17kmpl would be the best that the vehicle can offer.

Pricing:

With prices starting as low as 3.6 lakh ex showroom the Figo makes complete sense as a cheap small hatchback. The top end Titanium Diesel costs 6.09 lakh on road in Trivandrum and it does come with a Bluetooth enabled stereo system, ABS and two Airbags but makes to do with no power windows for the rear passengers. Alloy wheels come as optional, so does fog lamps which cost 30000 and 3000 rs respectively. Ford does give a 1 lakh kilometre warranty and does come with an extra extended warranty. Cost of ownership was always Fords Achilles heels, but with huge levels of localization (engine and gearbox being made in Pithampur and bodies stamped in Chennai), the spare parts prices have come down. Figo starts with 80% localization so the prices are bound to reduce further.

Summing it up, the Figo makes a good buy as a cheap hatch back giving adequate performance and good efficiency, providing comfort and practicality. The driver focussed setup will entice the driver in you to drive further. Performance and quality are let down as compared to the competition but price is one factor that goes with the Ford and the surprises/price does help in Ford at last having a vehicle for the masses to actually love and own.

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