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Can the Ford Figo fend off competition?

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Let’s count them all. Maruti Suzuki Swift, Hyundai Getz and i20, Chevrolet Beat and U-VA, Tata Indica Vista, Fiat Punto, Volkswagen Polo, Toyota Etios, Nissan Micra/March, Honda Jazz and their new small car… all are cars that the poor Ford Figo will have to fend off sooner or later. This is the hot and happening B-segment for you — every carmaker needs to have representation in this segment if they want any significant market share in India.

Looking at the build-up, Ford decided to flex its global muscles and come up with what we know as the ‘One World’ solution. The result is the Figo — a car that is built up to certain standards thanks to the last-generation Fiesta on which it is based and with a very good price tag (soon to be announced). Add to that a reconfigured Fiesta engine that displaces only 1.2 litres and returns 14 kpl and we’re in business.

The car looks like any contemporary Ford or Hyundai thanks to the double-decker grille and blunt nose (blame it on pedestrian-safety norms). On profile, the huge wheel arch bulges stand out, giving the car a sporty and very purposeful stance. The X-mas tree tail-lamps that earn additional points for safety (taller hence more visible) complete the form. No, you won’t be blamed if you call it a Fusion or a Focus every now and then – it looks like both!

Inside the car, Ford has offered what the clinics in India proved beyond doubt — flamboyance. So you get the option of a red instrument console and reddish upholstery to go with it. To some, it may look a bit too loud, especially with the white inserts, but to be fair it does not reflect badly on the windscreen. The rest of the fare is what we have seen in the Fusion. The seats are comfortable, but the one-size-fits-all driving position may find its share of detractors. The cabin is airy up front thanks to the tear-drop shaped greenhouse and can accommodate five people in reasonable comfort.

The struts/twist beam suspension is time honoured and works like magic on Indian roads – a trait the Figo shares with the Fiesta. Handling is neutral and dynamic enough for the powerplants on offer. The highlight of driving the Figo is a sharp steering and light controls. If the Suzuki Swift was the benchmark for the Figo, then Ford has nailed it spot-on without compromising on the ride and handling qualities of a typical Euro-bred hatchback.

Power for the Figo comes from the Duratec motor that is good for 70.35 bhp at 6250 rpm and 10.6 kgm of torque at 4000 rpm. On the move, the engine feels energetic enough to move the mass provided you keep the five-speed gearbox on the boil. Still, it takes its own time, around 16 seconds, for the Figo to have a crack at 100 kph.

The 1.4-litre Duratorq common-rail diesel is tuned for economy and hence requires more intent to drive fast. The TDCi engine develops only 68 bhp at 4000 clicks and 16.4 kgm of torque. This engine can return 15-20 kpl depending on traffic. Refinement is an issue compared to the Fiesta powered by the same engine, though.

You will be able to buy the Figo with ABS and dual airbags. In short, Ford has done its homework with the Figo and thoroughly too. Now let us wait for the price, because it is going to be a war out there.