‘Well Maruti Suzuki may be on to something here’. If that’s a thought that can nurture faster hatchbacks in the portfolios of other carmakers in the country, isn’t that a good thing? No one seemed to care when Volkswagen got the Polo GT models or Fiat launched the Abarth Punto, but when Manesar thinks it is time to reduce time between stop lights, that’s all the convincing needed to get on board on the hot hatch train. Ford is latest to book its seats on this enthusiast train with the Figo, but unlike previous instances of more power, this one is banking on more cornering prowess.
The S branding on the sides of this car. It’s Ford’s go-faster letter, but going faster in a straight line isn’t going to happen. There are no tweaks to the engine or the gearbox, but don’t be disheartened, this one’s a peach in the corners. Ford already has a good set of engines to power its hatchback that are definitely not low on power, especially in the diesel. It’s a sprightly 1.5-litre unit that makes 99bhp of power and 215Nm of torque with a very strong midrange. To utilize the engine’s strengths, the Figo gets stiffer suspension and bigger 15 inch wheels. Aesthetically, you will notice the big black grille, gloss black wing mirrors, black roof and black painted wheels. Inside the Figo S gets a leather wrapped steering wheel and red double stitching for the seats. The S is positioned above the Titanium trim and gets all the features of the Titanium and a bit more to differentiate it as the better handling Figo.
Fun to drive?
Fords have always been fun to drive. The chassis, suspension and steering of Ford cars have always had an edge over its competitors when enthusiastically driven, but the new Figo wasn’t as high up the enthusiast’s scale as previous Fords have been. Ford recognises the reputation it has gained with this car’s predecessor and the Fiestas in the past and has trickled down the surefootedness of these cars into the new Figo. Dynamically, in addition to a stiffer set up, the anti-roll bar has been beefed up to get a pointier front end. With the wider 195 section rubber (stocks are 175s) and lesser roll, turn ins are definitely fun and you will want to make quick direction changes in this one. Gujarat is full of arrow straight roads mixed with long sweeping bends from Ahmedabad to the Little Rann of Kutch where we drove to, and in these bends, the balance of the Figo S and high speed and the confidence to push harder were encouraging. It gets a nice squat stance and the wider tyres make the steering weight feel just right. We’d have to drive a regular Figo back to back to say for sure but initial impressions indicate of a better handling car. While the Figo doesn’t get a bump in power, it is quick at turn ins, and coupled with good high-speed ride, it will be able to much miles at high average speeds.
The Figo S with this diesel engine goes up against the Volkswagen Polo GT TDI. The Polo costs Rs 9.21 lakh ex-showroom Delhi, a full Rs 2 lakh costlier than the Figo S. The Polo feels better built and is about half a size larger but on the performance front, these two run each other very closely.
Ford didn’t have the petrol Figo S for the drive nor did it have the Figo Aspire that gets similar updates. The diesel we drove felt very stable at high speeds, handled fast sweepers with poise and ride quality improves with pace. What’s still its USP is being great value for money, even with a Rs 50,000 increase in price over the regular Figo. There’s more sport in the Figo now.
evo India rating: 4/5