A car is like a sitcom. You see it, like it, soak it in and then enjoy it. Ford targeted exactly this when they first brought out the Figo. A huge success meant a sequel had to be made. That’s what this is…
I remember having a smile on my face when I first drove the Figo. It was just before it was to be launched and the place was Goa and I truly fell in love with it. And it was not only me, there were several other journalists who only discussed the qualities of the Figo, at the hotel, the airport, in the aircraft and even once we landed back home. It was truly amazing what Ford had done with so little in hand and that too in a segment which was growing at a rapid pace. Later I spent a week with the neon green Figo, which I named (inappropriately, of course – but hey, it was green at least!) ‘Hulk,’ and I assure you that though I missed some things in that car, it was, till date, the best week I spent travelling around the city.
The entry of this hatchback truly changed people’s outlook towards this American giant and they embraced the Figo with open arms – here was something that suited Indian road conditions and average sized pockets perfectly! Do I dare compare it to the Model T then (I hear Ford engineers call the Figo that), which worked for Ford in much the same way, back in the B&W era? I most definitely will. It’s been two years now that the Ford hatchback has been a part of the Indian automotive Industry and it has been a witness to the competition that keeps growing as the days pass.
Ford, too, doesn’t want to stay out of this competition and especially since they know they have a winner on their hands. The objective of this entire update is to stay in tune with times and also to give the customers what they want – good looks, good ride quality, ambient and spacious interiors, better drivability in traffic situations, fuel economy and compactness. I would go ahead and say that the Figo was brought out by Ford with all this in mind and so ticks all these check boxes already. So what has changed or rather what needed to be changed?
When anybody mentions the term ‘cosmetic changes,’ I am reminded of a presentation made by a very senior gentleman from the marketing fraternity of the automotive industry. He compared cars to actors and said that cars always end up looking better when they go under the knife. Barring a few cars, I can’t help but accept this reality and with the Figo this prophetic theory is true to its core. The changes were essential maybe and we find a number of revisions to the Figo; most of them to the exterior, to make it more appealing. It gets a new hexagonal grille, which have been put in place so that Figo follows the design language of the company. Besides that, it gets redesigned head and tail lamps which go well with the overall design of the car. It also gets revised fog lamp housings and eight-spoke alloy wheels. Put all this together and the appearance of the Figo has surely changed and though not in a big way but the cosmetic touches do enhance the looks of the hatchback and its way better looking than most of the actors that do the rounds of the film industry for sure.
Ford has draped the new Figo in two new colours, the Kinetic blue and the bright yellow both of which looked good when we drove through the streets of Mumbai when the city was at it quietest best. This was the best time to check out how hush-hush it was on the inside. Ford claimed that because of the additional damping, the cabin was quieter and indeed it was when I drove the 1.2 litre Duratec petrol version. But the 1.4 litre Duratorq, let’s just say, was vociferous in telling me that it was a diesel that I was driving. Somehow I felt that the noise level had gone up a notch than the earlier generation. The engines on both the cars are the same as the earlier one but Ford says that it has tweaked the calibration to make it more responsive in the mid and low range. We did feel the difference in the diesel when we drove it, not so much in the petrol. The Duratec still gasps for breath between 1500 to 2000 rpm. On the other hand, the 1.4 litre Duratorq is a treat to drive and I am truly happy that the Figo still retains its point-and-shoot capabilities.
On the interior, the plum coloured dashboard is now replaced with a ‘Riveira Blue’ and goes well with the blue seat fabric that has been used inside the car. With the rest of the dimensions remaining the same, the Figo is spacious like before and there is an additional feature. Ford has included audio controls but on the steering column and you take your time to soak that in. The controls are similar to the ones we saw in the Renault Duster but this one’s on the left and it’s a fiddly little thing to use. You have to reach out with your fingers to operate those controls and it may be distracting. For me the problem was I continuously kept brushing my leg against the controls and that annoyed not only me but my fellow commuter as well. Out of the blue the volume would suddenly blast itself to level 20 and he and I both would look startled at each other. Yes we get it you want to bring a change with such innovations but steering-mounted controls are just practical and easy to operate, why mess with that idea? And if you do want to do a column mounted thing, do it like Renault. Another thing struck my mind, if this is an updated version, it should have got the power windows at the rear which we so dearly missed. Ford surely thought it to be an unnecessary addition.
With this upgrade, they have gone the whole mile to bring in innovations, new look and yet retain the charm that the previous Figo had. So it works just like the sitcoms on television. New characters enter but you still like it because you’ve already connected with the older lot and you look forward to the roles these new characters would play and it’s all good solely because it has touched upon on that one thing that makes you go back to it. Ford has done that in Season 1 and they are now planning to repeat their performance in a changed, competitive and growing hatchback market.