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'DNA 'drive: Ford Figo goes Fab with Facelift

Friday, 19 October 2012 - 9:21am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
Ford has given the Figo a facelift and Team DNA was invited to participate in a very special night drive through the nooks and crannies of Mumbai.

Ford launched the Figo in India in March 2010 and it drew 10,000 bookings inside a month. The car literally took the country by storm. Not many knew then that the Figo was an updated 2002 Fiesta hatchback, the model that succeeded the UK hatch version of the saloon car we knew as the Ikon in India. Ford launched the Fiesta after that as a saloon. Two years on, in 2012, Ford has given the Figo a facelift and Team DNA was invited to participate in a very special night drive through the nooks and crannies of aamchi Mumbai.

Ford has made about 140 small and big changes, both cosmetic and performance-oriented. While the Kinetic Design concept remains part of the carmaker’s DNA, it has undergone a bit of a transformation in the new avatar. The front- end looks different, thanks to a new hexagonal grille and sharper headlamps that are swept back, a la the Fiesta, complemented by bezelled foglamps. The headlamps have been redesigned to have a larger reflector, which improves the light throw.  As a result of all this, head on, the Figo looks very aggressive. To keep the balance, the tail lights have also seen subtle changes. One nice touch: the signal hazard lamps light up when the car rapidly decelerates, warning vehicles following. This should be made industry standard, we think.

Interiors
First impression: The new Figo is quieter than its predecessor, thanks to double-bulb, rubber weather strips on the doors, though road-roar transference could have been a bit more muted. The seats are much better designed with driver seat adjustment afforded in the Titanium variant.  The black and blue colour code gives the interiors a richer look – it’s a much better deal now on the dash too, compared with the garish one earlier. Classy is the word. Among bells and whistles, there are two airbags in the front, ABS, EBD and three-point safety belts, apart from Bluetooth connectivity and steering-based audio controls (for the radio + MP3 player with USB, Aux-In and 4 speakers) that remind you of the Renault system though this one’s on the right side.  The air-conditioner is surely the most powerful around in the segment.

Clearly, Ford has recalibrated the engine’s fuel management and delivery systems — performance has improved a lot, especially the initial acceleration. The most conspicuous change is the gear shifting action that’s much, much better now.  While that was done, the techies also decided to make the cabin a nicer, comfortable place to sit in by improving lumbar support. The headrests absorb whiplashes well.  Overall noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) inside the cabin have improved a lot. Bootspace, at 284 litre, remains class-leading.

The mill and ride
We spun both the Figo petrol – powered by the 1.2 litre, 16-valve DOHC Duratec, and the oilburner (1.4 litre, 8-valve Duratorq single overhead cam, both fused to a five-speed manual shifter – past midnight, in the city that never sleeps. To be sure, our First Drive was short – south of 60 km — to evaluate the car fully, but one came away with a good feeling, that the car delivered on both performance and handling. But it did feel a bit sluggish when the turbocharger in the diesel variant did not kick in fast enough, but once it did, there was a major rush in acceleration.

The petrol variant was quite punchy at lower revs for a car of its size and had much more linear power delivery and torque bands, feels more tractable with a better midrange, but begins to run out of breath after 5,500 rpm. But then, why would you need to pound this car in the city? Yet, when floored into three figures, there was admirable – make that great – stability. Clearly, the ride quality remains best in class.

Verdict
After its euphoric debut, things had petered out for this pocket rocket. Now with the slew of small and not-so-small changes, the Figo has become much, much better. Coming at the same tab as the previous avatar — plus a two-year or 100,000 km warranty that can be extended to three years at an attractive price — we think Ford has got it right this time on the price front, too. And that translates into a warning shot for rivals. Add a large dose of marketing mojo, and the new Figo should help Ford regain lost ground, before the force multiplier called EcoSport arrives, which can potentially put the carmaker into another orbit.

Ford Figo
Price: Rs3.85 lakh to Rs4.82 lakh, ex-showroom New Delhi
Kitna deti hai? Petrol: 15.33 kmpl
Diesel: 19.98 kmpl, ARAI test
Fuel tank: 45 litre
Tank-up good for: Over 650/850km petrol/diesel
Engines: Petrol: 1196 cc, 16-valve DOHC Duratec
Diesel: 1399 cc 8-valve SOHC Duratorq
Max power: 71 PS/6250 rpm petrol & 69 PS at 4000 rpm diesel
Max torque: 102 Nm/4000 rpm petrol & 160 Nm/2000 rpm diesel
Dimensions in feet (L/W/H): 12.45/5.51/4.68
Ground clearance: 168 mm




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