Most cars that are offered with an RS or Sport badge have a simple nip and tuck job. While there are minute changes to the design such as the addition of side skirtings and a spoiler, the usual let down is no change in performance. So, when Ford India went ahead and developed the Figo Sport or Figo S, it wasn't meagerly a cosmetic update, but extended to mechanical changes as well. The mechanical changes though are subtle and hence arises the question of the difference they can make in real-world driving. That's precisely why I was there at the Little Rann of Kutch and here is a detail of what has changed in the hatchback and what could have improved.
The Ford Figo S has largely the same design cues as seen on the Figo but here the company has taken the word 'sporty' quite seriously. The Figo S has a black honeycomb front grille with a chrome outlining that matches the swept back headlamps beautifully. In order to accentuate the 'sporty' character, Ford has given the headlamp clusters a blackened-out treatment. What is really attractive about the front is that unlike the chrome-laden grille that is seen on most cars, even on the Figo, the S version with its black grille looks subtle yet athletic. Move to the side and the only difference is the S badging on a silver stripe running on the lower portion of the doors. Over to the rear, changes include the addition of a spoiler and silver accents on the bumpers. The other changes on the hatchback are a glossy black roof and black painted wing mirrors or ORVMs (Outside Rear View Mirrors).
The Figo already had a design that exhibited traits like sportiness and fun to drive. With these new additions, it has further enhanced the aforementioned factors by a considerable margin. The athletic stance with the sporty design language should attract the spirited drivers of the country even further.
The interior of the Ford Figo S is almost entirely the same as seen on the standard Figo Titanium trim. A subtle change is the contrasting red stitching on the gear lever cover, seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel. The plastics offer a premium feel and there is not much to complain about. The only two drawbacks, like the standard versions, are the infotainment system and the lack of cup holders for the rear passengers.
The infotainment system isn't a touchscreen unit and there are a plethora of buttons with which one can communicate which can get a person confused. Pairing a phone can sometimes be a task and the Bluetooth can take some tries before properly pairing up with the phone. The good part here, however, is the Ford MyDock! Yes, this car is not offered with an infotainment screen, however, the infotainment unit has a docking unit or simply a phone holder. One can put their smartphone in the space provided for it on the centre console and it doubles up as a touchscreen unit for your car. That said, the cabin is more practical than some of its competitors and the feature list is adequate for its segment. The seating is also impressive! The rear seats offer good recline and under thigh support. After adjusting the front seat for my driving position (height for reference is 6'2”), there was ample legroom, about an inch of knee room and enough headroom. However, the lack of cup holders for the rear passengers may prove to be a letdown, especially, during long hauls. Also, putting in three adults would mean that one would be rubbing shoulders with their co-passengers.
Engine and Transmission
The Ford Figo S is available only in the Titanium S versions of the petrol and diesel engine options. This means that, unfortunately, it isn't offered with the more sprightly 1.5-litre petrol engine and has to make do with the 1.2-litre petrol motor. The engine, however, in discussion here is the 1.5-litre diesel unit. Generating 99 hp of power and 215 Nm of torque, this motor packs a good punch. The torque kicks in from 1,750 rpm translating into effortless driveability in the city. This translates into a better driveability in urban locations as well as highways. Transmission paired to the 1.5-litre diesel engine is a 5-speed unit which offers satisfactory gear changes, however, the rubbery feel during a gear change is still evident. The low-end torque is good enough to propel the car form 50 kmph in fifth gear without any hiccups or vibrations.
Overall, the engine and transmission on the Figo S diesel is impressive. There are no changes in the mapping of the engine, however, owing to the additional weight of larger wheels and wider tyres, fuel-efficiency is marginally down to a claimed figure of 24.29 kmpl from 25.79 kmpl. Our drive involved travelling through the city, highway, village roads and the Rann of Kutch yet the car returned an impressive 17.8 kmpl. This figure was achieved mostly under spirited driving, so folks driving it with a light right foot can expect even better numbers.
Ride and Handling
The Ford Figo, in its standard format has an impressive handling character. In the Sport versions, the suspension has been tweaked which now favours handling more than comfort. According to the company, the Figo S is heavier by about 20 kg. The primary reason for that is the larger 15-inch blackened-out alloy wheels with a wider 195/55 section tyre. The wider rubber not only improves handling to a considerable extent but, the overall combination of a stiffer suspension setup enhances its handling by a couple of notches at least. The feedback from the steering wheel is also impressive and one would always feel connected to the road. However, the wider profile of the tyres means one would have to put a little extra effort while parking in tight spots or while negotiating, say, a U-turn.
The surprising part here was that despite the suspension being tuned for handling, the comfort level for the occupants hasn't been compromised. The ride is marginally bumpier over rough patches when compared to the standard version of the Figo. But that's a trade-off in favour of better handling. Overall, it is an impressive combination of handling in a hatchback along with reasonable comfort.
Video: Ford Figo S diesel review
Since the Figo S is based on the Titanium version, it is offered with dual front airbags and Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD). What could have been an addition to the Ford Figo S and the Aspire S is reverse parking sensors with a rearview camera or just the former. While the Figo S is somewhat manageable to park in a tight spot, getting the Aspire in the same spot (which includes the standard models as well as the Sport variants) can be a bit cumbersome. Apart from this shortcoming, the safety feature list on the Figo S as well as the Aspire S variants is adequate and will keep its occupants safe in case of a crash.
Over the standard version of the Figo Titanium diesel, one would have to shell out Rs 50,000 more for the Sport variant. The ride and handling characteristics of the Figo have been applauded already, which have improved to a considerable extent in the Sport variant. To put it into context, the added premium of the Sport variant which isn't just limited to the cosmetic changes of a side skirt or a bumper lip, but, extends to enhancing the performance makes it a value-for-money proposition. So, the Ford Figo S diesel is definitely worth the extra moolah.