The haute hatch
Ford is an American brand. Its F-150 pick-up has been the USA’s best-selling vehicle since Bob Dylan first spilt ‘Blood on the Tracks’. But here\'s a thing: in India, Ford has an equal emotional pull, with deep industrial roots, and all sorts of popular culture tendrils.
Ford is an American brand. Its F-150 pick-up has been the USA’s best-selling vehicle since Bob Dylan first spilt ‘Blood on the Tracks’. But here's a thing: in India, Ford has an equal emotional pull, with deep industrial roots, and all sorts of popular culture tendrils.
Most of all, though, Ford meant affability and performance, the sort that never required a secret Swiss bank account to buy into. We aren’t talking about the GT or Focus or even the F-150, we are talking about the type of emotions attached to the Ikons, Escorts and even the Fiestas.
These were cars that defined the brainchild of Henry Ford in India, but then in 2009, when Ford made a ballsy move by foraying into an altogether newer segment. With the launch of the Figo, the word affability got a new meaning.
Ever since then, the automaker has sold over hundreds of thousands of its units, making the Figo, one of the most successful cars by Ford in the Indian sub-continent.
Cut to present… Call of Duty! The engineers of Ford India have treated us with an update. And very smartly, Ford took to the Tata way by introducing a sedan-from-a-hatch and named it the Ford Figo Aspire. The car was impeccable; probably the best in the segment and its current sales figures testifies this very fact.
Today we have the hatch, the way it was meant to be, it is the 2015 Figo. Much like its elder sibling, the car shares its looks, specs and almost everything else from its predecessor (which in this case is Figo Aspire). Everything, except the heavy butt.
Alike the Aspire, the vehicle comes with a 1.2-litre Ti-VCT petrol engine, delivering a peak power of 88 hp and a 1.5-litre TDCi diesel engine with 100 hp.
We had driven these two engines while driving the Figo Aspire between the medieval styled buildings and Khejda studded hills of Udaipur, but what we drove this time was a monster, a 1.5L six-speed automatic petrol Figo with 112 horses under its hood (which is also available in Figo Aspire).
With specs like that which will give wet dreams to petrolheads, Ford has comfortably also placed itself in the ‘hot hatch’ segment (especially with this particular variant), which earlier was dominated by the Volkswagen Polo GT. But then, the Figo scores Polo GT by being cheap… ridiculously cheap (Rs 6.9 lakh, ex-showroom).
Now comes the bigger question, how good is the Figo automatic? We wouldn’t dare call it the best, but it is as almost good as the best is out there. With bells of shame ringing for Volkswagen, we wouldn’t shower praises for Polo as well (Sorry, we don’t trust you anymore).
So, where would you take such a mighty hatch in India? Well, possibly to the best road in India. That’s what we did, and we took her to Yamuna Expressway, the 165km-long straight stretch of tarmac. The engine started in a dime, and rolled around like butter on Good Day biscuits seen in those Britannia ads.
Ford has given two drive options, Drive (duh) and Sports (S). We kept it in ‘D’ mode while cavalcading through the city traffic and headed towards the highway. The vehicle made its way out effortlessly. Push it to the Sports mode, the car exploded into a staccato pop and vroom passed everything else going at illegal speeds.
The delay in shifts were evident, we clocked a top speed of 184kmph, while accelerating from 0-100kmph in less than 10 seconds.We covered the journey ahead of schedule, reached Agra, and cherished the serenity bestowed upon us by the holy Taj Mahal.
While returning to Delhi, we swapped the car for the 1.5 litre diesel manual, which churned 99 bhp at 3750 RPM and 215 Nm of torque at 1750 RPM. The car became a reminiscent of the Figo Aspire we drove in Udaipur, we were nostalgic.
We expected sharper gear shifts, but were disappointed; the car carried the same gearbox from Aspire, and lacked the refinement (which we had anticipated from Ford this time) that is present in the Swift or even the Grand i10. But, all comparisons might sound nitpicking when we compare Figo’s features and safety standards to its competitors.
The car designed from ground up with safety as one of its key differentiators. It features a passenger cage created from high-strength steel to protect occupants in the event of an unfortunate collision.
Driver airbag come as standard across the entire range. From second variant onwards, it offers standard dual front airbags across the entire lineup and it is the only car in its segment to offer up to six airbags – including side and curtain airbags.
The vehicle is also equipped Ford’s Emergency Assistance feature that uses SYNC and a Bluetooth-paired phone to call emergency responders automatically and provide information about the vehicle and location, like in all its premium models.
This may not be the coolest looking car in the segment, but Figo packs features so powerful that it punches its way out. With the Figo Aspire, we had anticipated a revolution in the Indian automotive scenario; well, the 2015 Figo has just doubled its chances