First drive: Ford Figo Diesel 2010 in India
Power is the No.1 intoxicant in the world. That’s why Bill Clinton was more powerful than Bill Gates a few years ago; Barack Obama is more powerful than Warren Buffet now. That’s why Sonia Gandhi is more in demand in India than Mukesh Ambani. In our history lessons, we read how several royals, in their quest to quench their thirst for power, slaughtered their own family members. Power is such a powerful intoxicant that Indian politicians do not hesitate to create rift and evoke hatred in their own families, caste, creed, religion, state or region to crawl towards it.
Money is the second-most powerful intoxicant. That’s why Bill Gates attained demigod status across the globe and attracted ‘Head-of-State’ treatment from Indian Government and a politician like Chandrababu Naidu pulled out all possible and powerful tricks under his goatee to impress the ‘Moneyed Mogul’. If wealth is not a powerful intoxicant, why do actresses, for the sake of money, seductively showcase their ‘assets’ to titillate young and the young-at-heart?
Woman’s beauty is third-most powerful intoxicant. That’s why Aishwarya Rais and Marilyn Monroes hog the limelight perennially while Indra Nooyis and Margaret Thatchers are relegated to sidelines. Many might find fault with me for focusing on transient thing like woman’s beauty in the times of equal opportunities, exponential economic progress and endless fights for equality between sexes. I am afraid I will never subscribe to the utopian idea of man and woman being equal because they are poles apart on all counts- physically, emotionally and psychologically. Moreover a man can never be a mother! So, mere economic equality will never make them equals. A woman will be happy as long as she lives like a woman and a man will be happy as long as he lives like a man. There is no middle path save for those who are neither this or that!
But, for a car to succeed, it has to intoxicate people in terms of power, price and prettiness…simultaneously. Therefore, one can understand how difficult it is for the automakers to churn out a successful car model. That task, in the current scenario, is much more difficult in a country like India where price pushes power and beauty aside and takes the top and dominant slot in the success mantra of a successful car model.
American carmaker Ford, which entered into Indian market way back in 1995, took almost 15 years to catch the pulse of Indian market. The result is Figo, the blockbuster Ford India has been longing for. Ford has also launched the compact car in South Africa and plans to sell it in other developing markets.
Ford is a great marque. There’s no doubt about it. And there is no car lover on the earth who does not admire Ford’s founder Henry Ford – a legend who transformed automotive industry and fueled American dream. Unfortunately, I have not driven many Ford vehicles- neither in India nor in Dubai. I don’t know why. But when I had a chance to drive Ford Figo in Hyderabad recently, I admired the small ‘big’ car in its totality.
Figo, which means ‘cool’ in colloquial Italian, does not score many points beauty-wise, but, for a car of its size, hides loads of juice under its hood and comes with elegantly-designed, elaborate interiors. Above all, with a wheelbase of 2,489 mm and length of 3,795 mm, Figo is the longest one in the B segment and, at the same time, cheapest one in terms of price compared to most of its rivals such as Maruti Suzuki Swift, Volkswagen Polo, Nissan Micra, Hyundai i10 and Maruti Suzuki Ritz.
Based on the platform which also underpins Ford Fiesta and Ford Ikon, the 5-door, five-seater hatchback from the Blue Oval embodies Ford’s kinetic design philosophy with a dexterous touch of Indian elements.
Like on all other Ford models globally, Figo’s grille, which comes in two parts with lower one being larger and in an inverted shape, lends an aggressive look to the overall stance of the compact car.
This small car is not small when it comes to interior space. It has ample space for five adults with sufficient leg, head and shoulder room in the both front as well as rear though these dimensions are more generous in the front row when compared to the rear.
The Colorado-Red-coloured Figo I had driven was the flagship diesel variant called Titanium. Powered by Ford’s acclaimed 1.4-litre Duratorq diesel engine that delivers a peak power of 68 hp at 4000 rpm and peak torque of 160 Nm at 2000 rpm, Figo Titanium diesel completes the task of 0-100 kph in 15.8 seconds. Ford’s IB5 five-speed manual does the transmission duties and seamlessly transfers power to the front wheels .The diesel variant offers decent fuel-economy, but it may not be as high as Ford’s claim of 5 litres/100 km.
Ford Figo is available in eight trim levels- four diesel and four petrol. Petrol variants are equipped with 1.2-litre Duratec petrol engine, which generates 70 hp output at 6,250 rpm and delivers 102 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. They do the 0-100 kph feat in 15.5 seconds and offer, according to Ford, a fuel-efficiency of 6.4 litres/100 km.
The compact car from the Blue Oval offers superb ride quality and its suspension system — MacPherson strut with dual path mounts in the front and semi-independent twist beam with coil springs in the rear — is adept at absorbing bumps, a much-needed requirement in India where it’s difficult to find an inch-long road of good quality on any route, be it in cities or rural heartlands.
With a turning radius of 4.9 metres, Figo also comes with excellent cornering capabilities. It was a real fun to drive the cool Figo, which is an excellent value-for-money proposition for those who are not enamoured with exterior looks, but admires what’s inside. Given the Indians’ preference for interior beauty over exterior contours and their penchant for money over many other things, Figo is set to continue its winning streak in the days to come.
The 2010 Ford Figo Titanium Diesel 5-speed manual is priced at INR 540,000 (Dhs 43,105) in India. A 2010 Ford Figo Lxi Petrol base model is priced at INR 360,000 (Dhs 28,737). The Indian-built Ford Figo will be offered in the UAE in the near future.
Photos and article by P.M. Reddy, formerly a UAE automotive journalist now working in India for a business publication.