Note: This is not a promotional post. It is just our opinion about a car that we find to be perfectly priced and aptly packaged. We are writing this after spending two days with the Ford Figo TDCi in New Delhi.
A Brief History!
Ford launched the Figo hatchback in India in the year 2009, at a time when the company wasn’t really in the best of shape. Owners of the Ford Ikon had been complaining about reliability issues while the Fusion and Fiesta weren’t mass sellers either. And since the Figo was introduced as the entry-level model in Ford’s Indian portfolio, it had tons of responsibility on its shoulders. Not only was the Figo supposed to enhance the company’s sales numbers, it had to do so while competing with market giants like the Maruti Swift and Hyundai i10, both of which had made quite a hard-core following in the hearts of Indian customers. This made it even harder for the Figo to do what it was meant to.
However, what followed next was something that no one had expected. Soon after the Figo’s launch, the car received extremely positive reviews from various media houses. The 1.4-litre diesel’s untarnished image from Ford’s previous cars helped it secure the powertrain analysis with ease, while the solid tank-like build quality was widely praised across the country. Customers who were familiar with the Swift’s tinny feel and the i10’s plasticky interiors found the Figo to be very well built. In fact, the first-gen Figo is still one of the best-built cars in this segment. Another major highlight of the Figo’s package was the class-leading ride quality and road manners. Equipped with a hydraulic steering wheel, it was one of the best cars to throw around tight ghat sections. But the most prominent trick about the Figo’s road manners was the way it handled Indian road conditions. At that time (in the 2009-2010 period), it was the best hatchback in terms of ride quality.
All this helped the Figo to become an instant success, soon earning the spot of Ford’s best-seller in the country. It was a great car to drive and a reliable vehicle to own.
The current gen!
Ford thoroughly updated the Figo in 2015 with the launch of the second-generation model. This again came with its share of USPs: a 1.5-litre diesel engine that is a hoot to drive, calm road manners, a new and contemporary design and multiple feature additions. However, this new Figo didn’t manage to re-incarnate the following that the previous model had. But why?
Ford Figo – Our Experience with it!
We had heard a lot about the Figo’s value for money proposition and the diesel model’s astounding performance. However, we never had the chance to comprehensively drive one. So when a friend of a team member was going out of town for a couple of days, we decided to borrow his car for a while and see what does it have on offer. He obliged and we saw a spanking orange Figo TDCi enter our compound the next morning. The following observations are purely based on our 2-day experience with the car, along with various other tasteful ownership reviews that we have heard so far!
To start off, the new-gen Figo is an amazingly packaged car. While the earlier-gen model looked a bit too plain, the new car has been designed to attract a wide spectrum of customers. While aged folks will appreciate the practicality and ease of use offered by the car, youngsters will fall in love with the contemporary design language. The front grille’s apparent inspiration from Aston Martin cars and the rear’s classy lines blend to form a perfect balance, something that is missing in a lot of other cars currently on sale. The interiors too are nicely fabricated as the quality of plastics used is satisfactory. Additionally, Ford has also loaded the Figo with nice features across all variants.
But the heart of the car – a 1.5-litre TDCi unit – is the main reason why we are in love with it. It is clearly the best diesel power plant available below 15 lakh rupees. The engine response over the rpm band is phenomenal. As a result, even when you are cruising at low speeds in 4th gear, a push of the throttle will give you the required boost to make a quick maneuver. Moreover, the gearbox has been perfectly mated to the engine, offering great city driveability. Slot the car into second gear and it can cover all bumper to bumper distances without any hesitation. The third gear is also long enough to come down to around 30 km/h, and then give a surge of acceleration to go up to speeds of 110 km/h. This makes the Figo a perfect car for city runs as well as highway cruises.
But why doesn’t it sell?
The new-gen Ford Figo can definitely not be termed as a popular car in terms of sales numbers. And there are multiple reasons behind the lukewarm response recorded by the hatchback. Firstly, thanks to the earlier models robust built quality, the Figo name had attracted an image of being built like a tank. Unfortunately, the new model doesn’t carry forward the same built. The sheet metal looks slimmer, the doors don’t inspire the same confidence, while the interiors too are slightly harsh to touch and feel. This came as a bummer for hardcore Ford fans who were habitual of praising car from the American automaker. As a result, the new-gen Figo didn’t tick the right boxes for Ford enthusiasts.
Considering customers who aren’t Ford fanboys, most of them are concerned about the maintenance of Ford cars. While Ford is indeed trying its level best to communicate the real cost of ownership through television commercials and by inviting media people to its R&D centre, there is still a long way to go before the Maruti-loving customers accept Ford’s claims of being more economical to maintain.
Why do we love the Ford Figo?
We have already talked about the positives and negatives of the Figo in the above two segments. It is obvious that the positives are much larger in number as well as significance, as compared to the negatives. But this is the case with many other cars in the market. However, the reason behind our love for the Figo lies in the sheer value that the car offers for its price.
Consider this; the Ford Figo Trend has been loaded with all necessary features – 2-DIN music system with Bluetooth, USB, Aux & FM/AM, steering mounted audio controls, tachometer, turn indicators on ORVMs, keyless entry, driver side airbag, ABS and EBD. What else do you need in a basic car?
The fact that all these features along with the groundbreaking 1.5-litre TDCi engine is offered at a price of Rs. 6.47 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) is truly astounding. Additionally, thanks to the low sales, Ford dealers are offering enticing discounts on this variant as well. This makes it the best car to purchase at this price point.
Even the higher Titanium and Titanium+ trims are loaded with great features and are offered at just Rs. 6.67 lakh and Rs. 7.27 lakh, respectively.
As a result, we firmly believe that there is simply no other car in this segment that offers the combination of performance, appeal, and features at such a great price. Yes! We are proud to be in love with the new-gen Ford Figo!