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Safer, smarter Figo will attempt a strong comeback

| Updated on: Oct 01, 2015
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The second-gen Ford hatch is better looking and packed with more features, including an automatic gearbox

Ford had adopted a top-down approach for its product strategy at the time of its entry into India more than a decade and a half ago. It still does and that is probably part of the reason why it launched the Figo Aspire compact sedan first, a few weeks ago, and has now introduced the Figo hatch. The current Figo has aged and despite it being a peppy performer, the segment has witnessed a lot of new competitors who have reset the expectations amongst buyers.

Design The new Figo shares much of its design and engineering with the Aspire. So it presents the same face. There are a few changes with, of course, the more prominent ones being at the rear of the hatch. At the front, the stand-out design features are the trapezoidal bonnet grille with chrome slats, the large peeled back headlamps and the steeply raked windscreen. The front fender features, what Ford calls, the speed lip to deflect air and reduce underbody drag. In fact, Ford says that the Figo has undergone extensive air tunnel testing for optimising its aerodynamics. 

The Figo sports Ford’s contemporary profile to a point where you can guess the brand even with the Blue Oval logo camouflaged. The focused hatchback design and stance also means that wheels have been pushed to the very edge at the rear. Ford India claims that the Figo has the best-in-class wheelbase of 2,491mm. Ground clearance is also a more than adequate 174mm. Sharp creases for the waistline and the body side lines take your gaze away from the puny 14-inch wheels. But, the rear looks more proportionate and unique, with the different set of tail-lamps that reinterpret the design borrowed from the Aspire. Also we have never been fans of the compact sedan’s gawky stance, which is the case here too.

The new Figo’s B-pillar is set nearly at the centre allowing a fairly equal width for all doors, and they swing open wide making entry and exit, even into the rear bench seat, easy. Boot space is 257 litres, not the best in class, but, more problematic could be the fact that the rear bench is not split and will need to be folded fully to expand the luggage area. The Figo hatchback manages to leverage its exterior dimensions for boosting space inside the cabin. Scooped out back panels for the front seats also manage to improve legroom for rear passengers. But, the overall shoulder room and kneeroom for all occupants is not dramatically different compared to the other cars in the segment. 

Cabin Speaking of the interiors, the new Figo hatchback gets an all-black cabin theme. It doesn't feature the black and biege of the Aspire and, thankfully, doesn’t feature the teracotta browns of the previous generation Figo either. The dashboard layout and controls of the hatch are all shared with the Aspire compact sedan. The seats could have been better constructed, with the squabs feeling a bit thin and soft. The dash design and layout is a Ford trademark starting from the new Fiesta. Depending on the trim level you choose, the Figo will get a music system with the Ford SYNC tech, a central digital display etc. The seating position is good, though it could have been better if the steering were to be adjustable for reach. Overall, the cabin’s fit and finish quality is good, though there is nothing to go ‘OMG’ about.Cabin noise levels have been fairly well contained for a car in the B segment. During our test drive, the engine noise levels seemed to be better contained than road and wind noise. Some of this could have been exaggerated and unique to the route we took - the Taj Expressway to Agra from Greater Noida, which features concrete instead of tarmac and also cuts across really open, windy countryside. The cabin abounds with storage spaces at every nook.

Performance The Figo is offered with three engine options - two petrols and one diesel – all of which are from the Aspire and in the same state of tune. The petrol engines are the 1.5L Ti-VCT, and the new smaller 1.2L featuring the same twin variable camshaft timing technology from the former. While the 1.2L is offered only with a 5-speed manual gearbox, the 1.5L is being offered with a 6-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. All the engines are refined units, with the diesel being the most driveable and pragmatic choice if you are going to be driving mostly in the city. There is barely any turbolag and it has a hearty mid-range, so you won’t need to be shifting gears all the time and even if the rated mileage of 25.83 kmpl may be bit too ambitious, you can still hope to get over 15 kmpl in the city. The other powertrain we experienced in the Figo hatch was the 1.5L Ti-VCT petrol mated to the 6-speed automatic. The best part is that it is a twin clutch, but the weaker part is its slightly indecisive character and the culprit could be just the gearbox mapping. But, in sport mode, the extra assistance from the gearbox’s change in character can be a great help if you were taking on hair-pins or just driving aggressively.

Bottomline The Figo hatch gets a big leg up from this second generation’s fresh design and boost to quality levels. It comes packed with goodies too like the customisable MyKey and the Ford SYNC features. Safety gets a boost too, with two airbags as part of standard fitment (except for the base variant, which gets just a driver’s airbag). Ford’s driveability factor is always above average and the Figo hatch too manages that with a progressive clutch, nicely weighted steering and sorted out ride quality. The Figo hatch now gets even more compelling with ex-showroom prices starting from Rs 4.3 lakh and going up to Rs 7.4 lakh for the top – Titanium+ - trim (six airbags). The Figo now has its sights firmly fixed on the Suzuki Swift and Hyundai Grande i10.

Published on January 22, 2018

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