When news of a 'sportier’ Figo started trickling in, I was ecstatic. In the quest for a wider customer base, Ford had to compromise on the ride and handling of the hatchback. This took away one of the defining characteristics of the Ford - its driver appeal. Memories of the highly coveted Fiesta S from the early 2000s also raised my hopes.
Ford has introduced the new Sports Edition variants for both the Figo hatchback and Aspire compact-sedan. We drove the Figo Sports Edition powered by the 1.5-litre diesel motor paired to a 5-speed manual transmission.
The Figo Sports Edition certainly looks the part - especially in the white colour our particular car is in. The Figo is a handsome car and the additions made to the Sports Edition makes it even more so.
Highlights include the new honeycomb grille, blacked-out headlamps, 15-inch black alloy wheels, black contrast roof, black outside rearview mirror (ORVM) housings, door-decals with ‘S’ lettering and a body-coloured roof-mounted spoiler.
The black grille and black headlamps make the Figo look sinister from the front. The larger 15-inch wheels along with the lower profile 195mm section Apollo Alnac 4G tyres give the Figo a planted look that the standard variants miss out on.
If there is one thing that would have made the transformation complete, it would have been proper 'S’ badges - like the Fiesta S. The decals don't stand out as much, and where's the fun in that?
Inside, the sporty theme continues. All the silver trim has been replaced with piano black trim - this includes the centre console, door locks, door trim and steering wheel. The steering wheel and gear stalk get leather covers with red stitching. The fabric seat covers also feature red stitching. Features inside are the same as the standard Titanium variant - this includes the climate control system, dual airbags, phone dock, power foldable ORVMs, height-adjustable driver seat, etc.
We only saw the Aspire Sports Edition briefly and it didn't look as special as the Figo Sports Edition. The roof does not get the contrast colour, and the ORVM covers remain the same as the standard car. The Aspire does get 15-inch alloy wheels which look surprisingly similar to the ones found on the Fiesta S. The changes inside are more stark, the dual-tone black and beige theme is replaced by an all-black theme.
Performance and Handling
The Ford Figo and Aspire Sports Edition have the same engine and transmission as the standard car. The 1.2-litre, 88PS/112Nm petrol and the 1.5-litre, 100PS/215Nm turbo-diesel remain unchanged and are paired to standard 5-speed manual transmissions. The fuel efficiency figures have gone down a touch due to the addition of the fatter tyres; the Figo Sports Edition petrol returns 18.12kmpl which is lower by 0.02kmpl. Meanwhile, the Figo Sports Edition diesel has a fuel efficiency of 24.29kmpl, which is 1.54kmpl less.
Why the 'Sports Edition’ badge then? Because Ford has tweaked the suspension significantly. The springs have been stiffened up and the anti-roll bars have been reworked. The springs had to be lowered by 10mm to compensate for the bigger wheels and tyres.
Drive the Figo Sports Edition and it is clear that it deserves that badge (sticker). Sure, the ride is now firm and there is more feedback coming into the cabin from the road - but is never harsh. Considering this is not a tuneable suspension, the compromise attained by the engineers at Ford has to be appreciated.
The Figo Sports Edition goes around corners with minimal roll and stays planted on almost all road surfaces. The electric-assist steering is slightly more responsive than before, which makes it more fun to chuck the car into corners. The diesel’s grunty character and the slick-shifting transmission add to the drive-centric characteristics of the Sports Edition. Finally, the Figo is a fun-to-drive car again!
It is still not perfect though - the Apollo Alnac 4G tyres seem to struggle with handling the torque of the diesel motor, the steering wheel is quicker to turn but does not give a lot of feedback and there seems to be an increased driveline shudder as compared to the standard car.
The hot weather and wildly changing road conditions may have had a role to play in the lower than expected performance of the tyres. Ford has admitted it did not want to make it difficult for non-enthusiastic drivers to drive the Sports Edition, and that's why the steering is still light. The driveline shudder, we hope, is limited to the test car we drove.
After a brief drive, one thing is clear. Ford wants to build cars which cater to the enthusiast, and the Figo Sports Edition is a great example of this commitment. Is the extra Rs 50,000 asking price justified? If you value driving dynamics over everything, then the answer is a solid yes. But if you are looking for more features, then you could spend Rs 5,000 less and go for the fully loaded Titanium Plus variant.