Ford’s history in India has comprised phases of upswings followed by long periods of lull. Looking at the brand’s performance in recent times, the previous gen Figo took the market by storm for a while with its practical, spacious interior, great diesel engine, dynamic ability and fantastic value. As the last gen Figo’s sales dwindled down, the brilliant Ecosport brought some shine to the American car maker’s sales. And just when we thought the Creta may have taken some sheen off the Ecosport’s grades card, Ford launched the brilliant Figo Aspire sedan a month back. And now, with the introduction of the Figo hatchback, the carmaker has more tailor-made-for-India products in its portfolio than it ever had. We drove the dashing new hatchback from Delhi to Agra and back, lapping the gorgeous Yamuna Expressway. Should the leaders in the segment be worried? Let’s find out
Images : Chirag Mondal
Design and styling
We have talked at length about the Figo Aspire’s styling in our review, and the hatch version remains unaltered up front and all the way to the B pillar on the sides. The Aston-ish front grille looks smart, uncluttered and aggressive, all at the same time with some bling thrown in by a chrome defined frame and slats on the top variants (lower variants are done in black plastic and silver paint).
The front bumper features a wide air dam with a narrow slit with vertical stripes beneath, flanked by fog lamps in receded housings. Look closely and you’d find a black skirt under the front bumper to mask its unusual height from the ground.
The wraparound headlamps extend backwards all the way to the middle of the bonnet above the fender. The well-designed, fuss-free units have the pilot lamp, headlamp and turn indicators integrated neatly within the casing. The backwards extending part of the headlamps features a silver finish on the inside.
The bonnet gets twin creases at the centre, somewhat mimicking a power bulge you get to see on some bigger and more powerful cars. The treatment aids the athletic appearance of the car up front, and effectively lends it some visual potency.
The sides are a template of evolved, uncluttered European lines – making the Figo come across as a well-proportioned, well-styled car. A strong beltline emanates from the front fender, its beginning marked by a triangular adornment, and traverses its way all the way back into the tail lamps. This defining character line is joined by another crease halfway through the rear door to lend the new Figo muscular, sporty haunches. Another character line, continuing the flare of the front wheel arches runs across the door in the lower portion, and culminates into the shut line of the rear door.
Unlike most other cars in the segment, the Figo doesn’t have fully blacked out window frames, with only the B pillar getting a black treatment. The well designed roofline doesn’t drop too aggressively to allow for maximum headroom. The C pillar, however, is steeply raked to add a dash of sportiness to the car’s profile. The big front and rear windows allow a good amount of light inside the cabin, while also aiding visibility for the driver and passengers.
The Figo gets 14 inch wheels, which is par for the class, filling the wheel wells consistently, if not completely. Eight spoke wheels forming interesting pentagonal shapes between the spokes look nice and are the same as seen on the Aspire sedan before.
The two-tone (black with body colour) outside mirrors are smartly styled with horizontally oriented lines and feature integrated turn indicators.
At the rear, the evolved, unpretentious and confident design continues with a pair of beautifully styled, yet minimalistic tail lamps. A fuss free styling for boot with prominent horizontal character lines, emphasize a well-planted, squat stance. The rear bumper, too, gets clean, uncluttered lines with a curvy crease spanning its width on top, a well defined recess for the registration plate at the centre and a few other horizontal lines further emphasizing the poised demeanour of the hatchback. The exhaust pipe is tucked away neatly behind the bumper and isn’t visible unless you take your viewing angle down to the ground.
The Figo is an embodiment of evolved, sophisticated European styling. It looks smart and upmarket, without appearing to be trying too hard to do so. It has to be one of the most handsome, well proportioned and classy looking hatchbacks in the country today, in our books at least.
Engine and performance
The new Figo, like the Aspire sedan, is available with a choice of three engines – 1.2 / 1.5 litre naturally aspirated petrol engines, and a 1.5 litre turbo diesel. Of these, the 1.2 petrol and the 1.5 diesel get a manual 5-speed gearbox, while the 1.5 Ti-VCT petrol comes only with a dual clutch 6-speed transmission. For this media event, we drove only the 1.5 petrol with dual clutch Powershift auto and the 1.5 diesel. Let’s review the performance of the two power plants one by one.
1.5 Ti-VCT with Powershift Automatic
The 1.5 Ti-VCt petrol engine on the Figo with the dual clutch Powershift theoretically puts the new hatchback slam bang in the Polo GT TSI territory – that’s the hottest these hatchbacks get in our part of the world. So while on paper, the Figo 1.5 petrol (available only in Titanium variant with the Powershift automatic) looks delectable, does it actually taste as good?
With 112 PS of power produced at 6300 rpm, and 136 Nm of torque dished out at 4250 revs, the 1.5 petrol does feel a notch above all its lower specced nemeses for sure. The 6 speed dual clutch auto box on the car is also a notch or two above the similar offerings in the segments (DSG not included). The response from the engine at lower down the revs is decent, though the auto ‘box cuts in every time you try to bring the revs below 1400 rpm – shifting down a cog or two to push the revs up and aid responsiveness.
On the open expanse of the Yamuna Expressway, the engine showed us its capability, both as a relaxed cruiser and as a capable tool to shorten distances at a quick pace. To give you some perspective, the 1.5 litre engine allows the car to show a speedo indicated 80km/h while spinning at a lazy 2000 revs in top gear, and 100 kmph at 2500 revs – which should result in a good fuel efficiency figure. The large cubic capacity of the engine prevents it from feeling breathless even when loaded with passengers and hustled, making it a capable mile muncher even with entire family on board. It isn’t exactly a scorcher though, with a mild reluctance to rev hard and a sound note which isn’t exactly sporty.
The six speed dual clutch Powershift transmission comes with the regulation Drive mode and a Sport mode for the times when you’re high on dopamine. In D mode, the shift points are dependent entirely on the heaviness of your foot. Feathering the throttle, the upshifts come at around 2500 rpm, with the shift point going higher as you squish the pedal with more force. Pedal to the metal, the rev needle will swing all the way to its designated peak of about 6300 revs in middle gears.
The Sport mode lets the engine hang on to the revs all the way to 6300 rpm, close to the 6500 rpm redline, except for the first gear where the limiter cuts in at an early 4500 revs to prevent damage to the engine. Thereafter, the engine revs all the way up before shifting into the next cog.
While being in Sport mode, you can also shift manually using the + / – buttons on the drive selector. There is no Tiptronic kind of an arrangement here, though, making the experience of manual shifts somewhat un-tactile and video game-ish. While hustling the engine through cogs, the gearshifts are reasonably quick – not the quickest we have seen but appreciably responsive nonetheless.
A powerful engine, coupled with a capable 6-speed dual clutch auto makes the Figo a performer which is a notch above its segment peers. Show this baby an open expanse and hitting a genuine 180km/h should not be a problem. Having said that, it isn’t exactly an enthusiast’s delight, with the somewhat reticent nature of the engine leaving you with a feeling of wanting more out of it.
Within the city, the engine – tranny combo spells convenience making light work of stop start traffic. The automatic shifts are nice for the most part, except for those few rare occasions when the transmission couldn’t read the mild variations in throttle position and gets confused for a wee bit to hunt for the right gear.
In all, the 1.5 Ti-VCT Powershift, especially for the price it’s being offered at, makes this Figo a very interesting proposition in terms of the powertrain.
1.5 TDCi diesel
This one is the highlight of the entire New Figo spread in India. Delivering 100 PS of peak power at 3750 rpm and an enticing 215 Nm of peak torque between 1750 – 3000 rpm, the diesel Figo is a true all-rounder. The abundant torque makes itself evident from the very base of the rev spectrum, allowing for a convenient city drive. Sure, it’s a turbo diesel, and there has to be some turbo lag, but Ford have tuned this engine exceptionally well to keep that vice to its lowest possible limit. You can trundle around in third gear with the rev needle sitting at a low 1100 rpm. Sure, the response at that point will be very limited, but the Figo will keep moving along with the city traffic without gasping or spluttering.
Response from the engine starts building up from 1300 revs, which is a very low point for most such diesel engines to operate smoothly. Thereon, the Figo diesel will keep building momentum at a steady, if not fast pace. The turbo spools up properly at 2000 rpm, after which you can feel yourself surfing the heady torque in an enjoyable manner. However, even below that point, the 1.5 TDCI engine behaves in a linear, tractable and responsive manner – presenting itself as a convenient car to drive within the city.
It is, however, when you show this one the open highways that it feels the most at home. The diesel torque doesn’t exactly kick you back in the seat, but the addictive surge from the motor is unmistakable. Redlined at 5000 rpm, the diesel motor delivers performance in abundance.
In early gears, the performance is strong across the rev range, fading away only towards the end (above 4000 rpm) in 4th and fifth gears. Even so, the Figo diesel is a deceptively quick car, and can attain crazy speeds without breaking much of a sweat. That engine has to be one of the very best we have in the hatchback segment, and going by the smile it managed to spread across our faces, we see it getting very popular, very fast among the enthusiasts. The icing on the cake is that it’s as tractable, as it’s fast – making it just the perfect choice for someone who’s looking for the right blend of everyday usability, great fuel efficiency (25.83 kmpl ARAI) and great performance.
The five speed manual gearbox shifts well enough to thwart any complaints, though we have seen slicker gearboxes on Ford cars. In terms of revs and speeds, the potent, yet relaxed engine of the Figo was seen doing the following speeds at the respective revs provided ahead
4th gear – 2200 rpm – 80 kmph
4th gear – 2800 rpm – 100kmph
5th gear – 1800 rpm – 80 kmph
5th gear – 2200 rpm – 100 kmph
5th gear 2600 rpm – 120 kmph
The 1.5 TDCI engine is the most impressive engine within the price range the new Figo is being offered at, and is capable of getting very close to hitting the double ton when given some space to stretch its legs.
Interior and equipment
On the inside, the Figo hatch is a carbon copy of its sedan sibling, the Figo Aspire – except for one primary difference – while the sedan gets a lighter shade of beige for the interior, the hatchback, to project a sporty image is all black from the inside. Also, the leather upholstery available on the top of the line Titanium+ variant of the Figo Aspire is not an option on the hatchback.
The 1.5 Ti-VCT Powershift however, isn’t available in the Titanium+ variant, and thus doesn’t get the Ford Sync screen over the central console, nor does it get the segment benchmark six airbags as an option. What you get here is the Ford MyDock arrangement featuring USB and aux-in slots in a flip-open dock to make your phone work as a sat-nav screen, if you so wish. The Ti-VCT Powershift variant also misses out on the voice command button on the steering wheel, as it doesn’t have the functionality.
Standard key on the 1.5 Ti-VCT Auto
Also missing here is Ford’s MyKey which can be programmed for limiting vehicle top speed, regulate the audio volume or encourage seat belt use.
Traction control button on the Automatic variant’s dash
Even with those omissions, the 1.5 TiVCT scores highly in terms of features as it is the only variant within the Figo range to get equipment such as an Electronic Stability Program, Traction Control System and Hill Launch Assist. Those are some really great active safety and driver convenience features which outweigh the missing equipment and present the automatic model as a great offering.
SYNC screen on Titanium+ variant
SYNC gets replaced by Ford MyDock for lower variants
On the top of the line Titanium+ variant, the flip-open Ford MyDock is replaced by a screen for Ford’s proprietary SYNC infotainment system, showing functions related to audio, phone etc and a menu for voice commands.
The instrumentation with white font over black dials and blue highlights is basic but functional. For the Trend, Titanium and Titanium+ variants, the instrumentation gets a green gear shift indicator, suggesting an upshift when you are driving in high revs.
The central multi information display sitting under the large speedo dial offers useful information such as distance to dry and average fuel efficiency. You also have your bunch of tell tale lights offering a sea of information.
The interior as a whole is nice, functional, solid and feature rich, but not class leading. The centre console featuring the cellphone inspired buttons is getting a tad boring now, and isn’t very intuitive either. Touch screens are the order of the day in the segment, and Ford should have done something to make space for a rich display screen on that dash.
The buttons, dash, and the steering wheel have a solid built-to last feel about them though. The controls for the automatic A/C on the lower portion of the central console look premium with a very tactile feel to them. The blue display also goes well with the black theme.
The seats, both up front and at the rear feel nice and supportive and during our 450 km roundtrip to and back from Agra didn’t let fatigue set in even for a moment. The well bolstered, sportily styled seats get stitching in a contrasting light colour and grey patterns as highlights.
While the foam density felt a tad softer than what we’ve come to expect from Ford, the comfort offered didn’t leave us with anything to grumble about. The cabin is well insulated from outside noise, though once on the move, the noise from the tyres filtering in was a tad louder than what we’d have expected after experiencing the super silent cabin of the Ecosport.
Seats at the rear offer space which is par with class with scooped out front seat backs to liberate that extra knee-room. Good thigh support and sufficient head room further aids comfort. We missed proper inside door handles to grab onto, though, especially on the Titanium+ variant, where even the grab handles on top of the door are absent owing to the presence of airbags.
Ford India have provisioned for ample cubby holes inside the cabin to store small articles while traveling with the entire family in tow. Front doors can swallow as many as three water bottles each, with space between the front seats to hold three more, along with a crevice to store your wallet or cell phone.
In addition, there is a small, rubberized deck under the A/C controls, meant specifically for your cell phone. Then there is the flip open Ford MyDock which can be used as a small storage space when not serving as a sat-nav screen. There is also the good old glove box, which is decently sized in this case.
The rear passengers, however, are not as lucky, as the door panels don’t have space for any bottles, with just a small crevice on the door arm-rest also serving as a door handle. There are pockets behind the front seats to store articles, though. The last bottle holder between the front seats is also available for use by the rear passengers.
In terms of boot space, the new Figo gets a decently sized 257 litre storage expandable substantially by dropping the foldable, but non-split rear seats.
The infotainment system on the car has compatibility with all the media, and sounds decent. The SYNC voice command recognition works, but has limited functionality, though it doesn’t take long to get accustomed to.
The Ford Emergency Assist service, which makes emergency calls upon detecting a mishap comes as a standard feature across all variants.
Another small but significant thing is the rear A/C vent, or the lack of it. During our day long drive to and back from Agra, while the A/C cooled effectively, there was a sort of argument going on throughout the distance. Our lens man, Chirag Mondal, while sitting in the backseat constantly whined for increasing the A/C blast, while the front passengers kept on reducing the flow after every few minutes as it kept getting too chilly, too fast, even on a scorching hot day. Rear A/C vents, in India, thus, don’t merely add to the feature list – they actually work, and Ford would have done well to include the feature in that otherwise long amenities list.
Built to last with a lot of thought put in, the Figo’s cabin is commendable for the price, though cost cutting is evident in some places such as door panels, where the plastic is a tad harder than ideal. For the price at which the car is offered, though, we don’t think there’s anything to grumble about at all. It’s practical, spacious interior and works well for the usage patterns in India.
The features chart for all the variants of the Figo is provided below – please click to expand
In addition to all the features listed above, Ford is also providing a nifty set of accessories. Here’s an infographic depicting all of them
Here we have some more small but important details about the new Figo represented through images
Passenger side vanity mirror standard on the Titanium variant
The SYNC voice command button on the steering wheel is exclusive to the top of the line Titanium+ variant
Gets replaced by audio controls and mode button on the lower Titanium variant
The USB and aux-in slots are positioned inside the dock on Titanium variant. For the higher Titanium+ variant, they get shifted down ahead of the gear shifter as visible here
Triangular chrome adornment above the front fender
The rear wiper fluid dispenser is positioned uniquely within the high mount brake light
Another small secret crevice under the steering wheel towards the front door
ORVMs are powered, and can be power folded too by pressing the joystick downwards
Microphone for the SYNC voice command system
The controls for the automatic A/C are built well, feel premium and tactile. Note the grippy deck for smartphones beneath the A/C panel
Ride, handling, driving dynamics
It’s a Ford – that sorts a lot of things out by itself. The Figo lives up to the American carmaker’s reputation for making fun to drive, dynamically competent cars, which are more inviting and confidence inspiring than their rivals.
To start with, the driver seat is height adjustable and the steering adjustable for rake – allowing the driver to find a suitable driving position rather quickly. Once settled, and on the move, the Figo offers a dynamically competent drive which is among the very best in the segment. Properly European in its drive and ride feel, the Figo offers a firm yet well damped ride. The absorbent suspension can also brave a spirited spin around the bends – a blend which has eluded the Indians, Japanense and the Koreans to date. The car feels rock solid even at high speeds-and the trait is much needed knowing the performance on offer, especially by the punchy diesel motor.
The steering feels a tad more inert than we expect from Ford, more so in the petrol variant, thanks to the lighter nose, though the weight at speed increases appreciably. Blasting down the inviting Yamuna Expressway, the Figo impressed us not just with its unshakeable poise at speed in a straight line, but also in the manner it took in its stride the wavy undulations even with a loaded cabin without getting perturbed one bit. The ride at slow speeds, while not overly soft, is quite absorbent with the suspension handling even sharper ridges without letting any jerks pass into the cabin.
The 175 / 65 R14 MRF ZV2Ks on our test car offered ample grip, even on a concrete surface. The body roll on the car is well contained, and the Figo will put a smile on the face of the enthusiast. Sure, we could have done with some more feel with that steering wheel, deadened somewhat thanks to the energy saving EPAS, but it’s still very precise and lets the driver place the car accurately on the road.
There isn’t really anything to complain about the ride and handling of the new Figo, and that’s despite the fact that it has a segment leading 175mm of ground clearance. Unlike the previous Figo which appeared to have lost its dampers when looked at from behind, the new Figo carries its weight well, and would never scrape it belly while crossing even the most vicious speed breakers.
One of the best ride & handling packages within its segment, the Figo should make its rivals wary owing to its fantastic road manners.
Like the Aspire, which is arguably the best car in its segment as of now, the Figo is also an extremely potent product for its class. It’s a sophisticated, well proportioned design, with great engine options, offers the choice of a capable automatic, boasts great space inside, and has features which are at par with the segment, if not the best.
Talking specifically about the variants we drove, the Ti-VCT Automatic is a truly potent petrol-automatic, theoretically in the same class as the Volkswagen Polo GT TSI. Sure, the seat of the pant experience isn’t as thrilling as the latter, but it’s pretty good by its own. A price difference of more than Rs 1.5 lakh puts the Figo at an advantage. Add to it a higher fuel efficiency and much lower cost of ownership as compared to the VW and the Figo Powershift starts making a lot of sense. The petrol Powershift has the potential to turn into the car of choice for a whole generation of drivers who were looking to buy a powerful, capable automatic without having to rob a bank. In that sense, the Figo Ti-VCT with its dual clutch Powershift auto is a unique proposition.
As for the diesel variant, it’s gotten us smitten. It’s a perfectly useable everyday mill, with segment busting performance and great practicality. The pricing of the top Titanium+ variant, boasting six airbags is only about Rs 12k higher than the Swift ZDI, which neither has the performance nor the features to match the Ford. The one notch lower Titanium variant of the car retails for about Rs 28K cheaper than the Swift ZDI. That makes the new Ford a fantastic deal. It’s an extremely well packaged car at a surprising price. We cannot help but recommend you take a test drive of one of these before you make your decision in the hatchback segment. You’d be pleasantly surprised, we promise.
Price – The ex-Delhi prices of the new Ford Figo, as tested are provided below
New Figo Base – INR 429,900
New Figo Ambiente – INR 456,600
New Figo Trend – INR 500,600
New Figo Titanium – INR 575,600
New Figo Titanium + – INR 640,600
New Figo 1.5L Titanium – INR 691,600
New Figo Base – INR 529,900
New Figo Ambiente – INR 562,600
New Figo Trend – INR 597,600
New Figo Titanium – INR 672,600
New Figo Titanium + – INR 740,600
Specs and features
New 2015 Ford Figo Image Gallery