First drive: 2016 Ford Figo Hatchback in the UAE
Ford is one of the few carmakers that generally treats us with a bit of respect. It’s something that’s hard to come by in this industry when you’re too honest for your own good. So when they asked us to run this 2016 Ford Figo Hatchback, we begrudgingly accepted. We can’t be fooling around in Mustangs every week. Our reluctance may have been so obvious that even the Ford spokesperson who delivered the car to us may have noticed. When we sat in the car, the first things that hit us were the hard plastics and the cheap headliner, but these are standard for this segment. But then we started up the car and went for a round later that day, coming back with a completely changed perception about the little Figo.
Truth be told, we preferred the styling of the previous model, but this new one gains the “Aston Martin” grille that has now pervaded throughout Ford’s car line-up. So don’t be surprised if you see a squished DB11 in your rearview mirror. It’s probably why Range Rovers were giving way to us on the highway at night.
The tall new profile means there’s good headroom for all passengers, while rear passengers get just about enough legroom to be comfortable without having their knees touch the padded front seatbacks. The small door inserts are padded too. The boot is small though, so we couldn’t use it as a pram-carrying family car. The rear seatback can fold down as one piece to increase cargo room. And the cup-holders are too small.
The dashboard styling is utterly modern, complete with a custom-shaped stereo head unit, USB port and proper knobs for the good a/c. Being a top-spec model, it even came with power mirrors, keyless entry with a flip-style key, trip computer, Bluetooth and a cover for the dash-top cubby that doubles as a smartphone holder so you can position your phone as a nav screen! There’s nothing too fancy though, but then again, this top version costs only as much as a base Toyota Yaris. Other features include 14-inch alloys, power windows, cloth upholstery and halogen headlights as well as both front and rear fog lamps. Safety features include standard ABS, ESP, height-adjustable driver’s seat, four proper seat-belts as well as a rear middle-passenger lap belt, and only two airbags that we could see, although 6 airbags is apparently available.
Available with an 87 hp 1.2-litre base motor, our car had the “big” engine, namely the 110 hp 1.5-litre 4-cylinder, mated to an excellent 6-speed automatic. In fact, that gearbox is so good that it always chose the right gear, making the most of the limited power, and making the car feel reasonably quick on city streets. There even seemed to be enough overtaking power if the revs are kept high. The “sport” mode even downshifts as you slow down, and there are thumb buttons on the shift-knob to manually change gears as well.
And boy does this car handle. If you’re brave enough, you could probably chase Minis with it on twisty roads. The suspension tuning is tight and body roll is limited. Even the structure is strong, with no odd noises when going over sharp speed bumps quickly. Sure, the 175/55 tyres don’t look like much, but they offer ample grip in street driving, up to a point of course. The steering and brakes are responsive, the latter even boasting decent stopping power.
However, there are a few key quirks. The pedals are too responsive at very low speeds, so you end up lurching ahead or jerking to a stop when crawling in traffic. Also, the steering offers some feedback, but it also feels a bit spongy on-centre, so combined with the tall seating, you won’t feel particularly inclined to attack corners hard, even while the chassis can manage much more.
The ride feels a bit busy on some road surfaces, given the “sporty” suspension tuning, though it’s never annoying. There’s also a fair bit of outside noise, as all sub-compacts do, but it is more of a constant hush so it’s not hard to tune it out. If it does bother you, there is the rather decent-sounding stereo.
The Indian-built Ford Figo is not ground-breaking in terms of packaging, nor is it the most well-trimmed or as full of tech as some pricier rivals. But what it does well is not drive cheaply, as we had a ton of fun chucking it about, revving the engine to the max, and still managing a fuel consumption rate of 8.85 litres/100 km. It’s a cost-effective way to get to the office and back daily, but it won’t feel boring in the slightest.
For UAE specs and prices, visit the Ford buyer guide.
Photos by Mashfique Hussain Chowdhury.