Hatchbacks are a great option if you want a car that is small in size but can still offer a decent amount of space on the inside and deliver an engaging driving experience. In many ways, a hatchback is more fun and practical on the road compared to an SUV. Considering that most buyers use their cars for daily commutes, Ford has now equipped the Figo with an automatic transmission. While most cars in the segment offer AMT transmissions, the one found in Figo is a torque converter unit. This is a technologically superior option when you compare it to AMTs. So how does this change the driving experience of the Ford Figo?
Before we get to the driving portion, let me quickly run you through the other aspects of the car as not much has changed. The Figo looks very similar to how it has been for a while. There is not a lot of drama happening in terms of design and it looks rather simple. At the front, you will find the familiar Ford grille, halogen headlamps and turn indicators, black inserts on the bumper and some chrome garnishing around the fog lamps. Seeing as how most of the competitors now offer LED units, the Figo can look a bit dated with its yellow-tinted eyes.
On the sides, you will see the same old 15-inch dual-tone alloy wheels. There are no roof rails here and the door handles and ORVMs are body-coloured. The windows come with a thin black surrounding that adds some contrast. At the back too things are rather simple and plain. The top-end trim comes with a rear defogger and a rear windscreen wiper as well. Overall, the design of the car has not changed and it is not going to get second glances when you drive it down the road. But it is not a bad car to look at when you leave for work every morning.
Ford is offering the Figo in just two variants – Titanium and Titanium+ and they have a minimal number of differences in their feature list. This is a good thing and means that even if you go for the “base” model, you get most of the goodies. The cabin looks the same as before and is covered in black. There are some piano black accents around the 7.0-inch touchscreen display, on the steering wheel and around the gear selector. Quality levels are good and generally, you will not be complaining about too many things. While it might not come with fancy ambient lighting, the buttons have a pleasant blue glow.
As a person who is 6-feet tall, I had no issue finding space in both the rows of the car. The rear passengers get adjustable head restraints but no AC vents or charging ports. I think Ford could have at least added a charging port at the back considering the number of gadgets people tend to have these days. Squeezing three people at the back will be a bit of a task and that is not made easier by the lack of a head restraint in the centre and a transmission tunnel that is far from being flat. You will not have any complaints from the seats as they are well cushioned and one at the front also have a decent amount of bolstering on the sides. People with slimmer build like mine will still be shifting a little when pushing the car around corners but overall the seats do a good job.
It is no secret that the Figo is not the most feature-loaded car in the segment and if that is your priority, then it is best you look elsewhere. While the touchscreen system has a good interface, responds well to touch inputs and is paired to a capable sound system, it does not support Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. In the second row, you will not find any AC vents, charging ports, armrest or bottle holders in the doors.
Let us now take at how this new Figo is to drive. It gets the same 1.2-litre, three-cylinder, naturally-aspirated petrol engine as before and makes 94.6hp and 119Nm of torque. This engine is now being offered with a 6-speed torque converter automatic transmission. One thing to note is that Figo’s competitors either do not offer automatic transmissions or come with automated manual transmissions (AMTs). Torque converters are superior to AMTs and the gear shifts are smoother in comparison. The petrol engine in the Figo is a very refined unit and the addition of this automatic transmission makes the driving experience a whole lot better. You can easily drive around in the city and not notice the gear changes for the most part. If you are looking for a relaxed drive then the Figo automatic will deliver it. For extra fun, there is a Sport mode that holds onto the gears for longer and you can also change gears manually using the buttons on the gear lever. In manual mode, the gear shifts are fairly quick and there is not a whole lot of lag but using the buttons can take some time to get used to.
There is a good amount of punch in the mid-range but the higher you go, the more you will struggle when overtaking someone. This car can easily ferry around four people and can also be a good vehicle to take on the highways. One can easily cruise at triple-digit speeds without the engine feeling stressed. While the power and torque figures are on the higher side, the engine does not feel as eager and seems to have been tuned for a linear response. For some people, the petrol unit might not be as exciting as a turbo-petrol or a diesel engine found in other cars.
While the Figo might not have more exciting engine options, it still handles well around corners and does not feel floaty when you try and test its limits. The suspension is a little bit on the stiffer side and you can definitely find cars with plusher rides compared to the Figo. However, it is not at all bad to cause you any discomfort. You get a steering wheel that feels light and can be a boon when parking the car or while ambling around in city traffic. It would have been great if it could have felt a bit heavier as you gain speed though.
You get a standard front disc and rear drum brake setup in the Figo but the brakes felt quite sharp and even though we were dealing with wet tarmac on the day of testing, the brakes felt very reliable. Obviously, it comes with ABS and EBD as well and they do their part in adding to the safety aspect of the car. In fact, this is one of the safest cars in its segment and comes with side and curtain airbags. It also gets other features like rear parking sensors and camera, ESP, TCS and HLA.
Ford claims that this car has a fuel efficiency of 16kmpl, which is lower when you compare it to the manual model of the car. I only had the Figo for one day and during my testing, I was mostly driving around a rain-soaked Delhi. I was getting close to 10-11kmpl but that is probably due to the fact that I was having a little too much fun testing the limits of the car. If you pay a little more caution to your driving behaviour, you might be able to extract a bit more from the car but even that will not make this a very frugal car in its segment.
The new automatic transmission in the Figo is definitely a capable unit. Since this is not an AMT, the gear shifts are a whole lot smoother and people who drive their cars in the city mostly will appreciate the introduction of this gearbox. The Figo is a decent car in itself but since the market is full of many competitors and feature-loaded packages, you’ll need to have some specific requirements to see the appeal of this little hatch. The Titanium model of Figo has a price tag of Rs 7.75 lakh (ex-showroom) while the Titanium+ costs Rs 8.20 lakh (ex-showroom). These prices are in close proximity to some of the higher-spec models of its competitors. If you want a car that has a smooth driving character and is high on safety but fancy features are really not a very high priority, the Figo automatic could be a great option to consider.
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