Ford Figo Automatic – Best inexpensive almost-hot hatch?

Ford India launched the new Figo yesterday. One very interesting about the car? The presence of a dual-clutch automatic transmission is. And to make matters even more interesting, the gearbox, like in the larger Figo Aspire and the EcoSport, comes with a 1.5-liter petrol engine. The capacity might not be unheard of in the segment, but the presence of a large engine in a small car always excites us, doesn’t it? So here’s why the Ford Figo could be the best, inexpensive-warm hatchback you could buy. It’s available only in the top but one ‘Titanium’ trim, and is priced at Rs. 6.92 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi.

Big engine and quick gearbox

Ford Figo Automatic – Best inexpensive almost-hot hatch?

The naturally aspirated 1.5-litre Ti-VCT engine makes 108 Bhp @ 6300rpm and 136 Nm @ 4250 rpm. You’ll need to work the engine to make decent pace, but having driven the EcoSport (with the same engine+gearbox), it should be fun.

The other thing that stands out here is, of course, the 6-speed dual-clutch gearbox. A manual is certainly fun to use, but for quick progress, this gearbox is apt, and much better than most conventional automatics.

Chassis and suspension

Ford Figo Automatic – Best inexpensive almost-hot hatch?

If the Ford Figo Aspire’s handling character is anything to go by, the Figo should handle as well. First impressions are likely to be out tomorrow.

And Ford India has been kind enough to not mention the car’s weight in their brochure, the car is not going to be any heavier than the Figo Aspire, which tips the scale at about a tonne.

Handing-wise, the EPAS (and not a hydraulic unit like the Figo) will mean the fuel economy doesn’t suffer too much. As for the feel and feedback, the new systems are closer to hydraulic units (most of the times), so it’s not a huge loss there.

The 175/65 R14 wheels might need an upgrade in size and width, though. Alloys come standard on the Figo Automatic.


Ford Figo Automatic – Best inexpensive almost-hot hatch?

The closest fun to drive car is the Volkswagen Polo GT TSI. It’s also the other car with a powerful petrol engine mated to a dual clutch transmission in the segment. Look at the specs, and the Polo makes a tad less power than the Figo. Wow!

And at Rs 6.92 lakh, not only is the Figo cheaper than most other rivals, but is also decently equipped. Yes, it does lose out on side and curtain airbags (why, Ford?), but everything else is more or less included.

In comparison to the GT TSI, which is larger and maybe a bit more focused (remains to be seen), the Figo hatchback is a little above Rs 1 lakh cheaper. Amazing value? Surely!

Driver assists

Ford Figo Automatic – Best inexpensive almost-hot hatch?

ABS is present across the top two variants (following the wrong tradition still, Ford?) but the Figo Automatic gets a few extras. Like the hill-start assist, which lets you drive off at an incline without having the car roll downhill.

It also gets Electronic Stability Programme and Traction Control. The latter brakes individual wheels should the system sense a loss of grip. That way not only does the Figo become safer to drive in less than perfect conditions, it should be helpful on Indian roads, which can be, well, unpredictable.

So yes, on paper, the car looks promising indeed. Alternatives for the Figo might be many, but driver-focussed ones are a few. And while the EcoBoost could have been the right engine to turn this into a real hot hatch contender, the present configuration will appeal to a wider range of customers.