Bought a Ford Figo S as my 1st car: 4-years & 60,000 km of ownership

The Figo is my daily drive + weekend toy and sees both city and highway use regularly.

BHPian Vibhanshu0923 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

The thing is, we enthusiasts find the joy of the firsts in multiple cars we purchase over time. ‘First car we ever drove/learnt to drive on’, ‘First sedan’, ‘First SUV’, ‘First luxury car’ etc. You get the idea…

I was fortunate enough to learn to drive on my father’s Maruti Suzuki Esteem. An Indian automotive legend in most ways, it was the car that introduced me to the notion of fun behind the wheel. I still remember the potent top-end of the 1.3L motor and the tall gearing that allowed it to breach 100kmph in second gear. There are only a handful of mass-market cars that can do so. However, with the beginning of the diesel era, our family jumped ship from petrol to diesel power and brought home the excellent 1.3MJD engine in the Maruti Dzire. The midrange turbo-kick of that engine is a well-known phenomenon that has converted many enthusiasts (including my father) into diesel-heads.

Having experienced multiple mass-market cars over the years, I firmly believe that one does not necessarily need to spend big money to have access to driving fun. Putting my money where my mouth is, I bought my first car in 2017 – Ford Figo Sports 1.5L TDCi.

What I Like:

  • The 1.5L TDCi engine – Fast, Frugal, Practical, Reliable; 0-100 km/h in ~10 seconds with 18-20 km/l. Seems like multiple engines rolled into one
  • The looks – The tastefully done black detailing (a major reason for the white colour choice) and the subtle changes make an already good design stand out.
  • The handling – Feels like a nimble, chuckable go-kart. One of the best steering setups available then (only the Abarth Punto is better IMO). Sorted suspension and right-sized tyres.
  • The audio setup – I am by no means a car-audio junkie but I do appreciate the difference between a good and an average setup. To my ears, the audio system in the Figo is very good for the class.
  • Cabin Space & Overall practicality – The car is spacious enough for 4 adults, their luggage, and knick-knacks. Moreover, the car is at home in the cities, highways, and ghats/mountains.
  • Maintenance and service costs – The service and maintenance costs are refreshingly low. Ford really honours their service price transparency claim and the service costs have always ranged in the INR 5-7k bracket
  • The chiller AC – I was sceptical of the black roof in Delhi summers but the AC is an absolute chiller and makes the cabin a good place to be in.
  • Perceived Build Quality – A relative positive point. While it’s no match to VW, Fiat, or other fords (Ecosport/Endeavour), it does feel better built than Maruti and Hyundai.
  • Speed-sensing auto-lock without auto-unlock on ignition off – I find this an underrated feature. I like the security of the car being locked on signals and staying so, unless I want it unlocked.
  • The feel/connect – Highly subjective and abstract but all the mechanical elements (engine, steering, suspension) come together to create a special driving feel that makes me smile even at double-digit speeds.

What I dislike:

  • Lack of Titanium+ trim in the Sports edition – The Sports trim is available only in the Titanium trim. It would have been great to have the Titanium+ spec with the Sports edition (6 airbags)
  • Slightly notchy gearshift – While the shift action is decently short, the lever doesn’t offer the slick slotting action of the other gearboxes in the segment. Not a deal-breaker and gets slightly better with use & habit.
  • Overall Refinement – While the engine is decently refined, it is not a Hyundai diesel in NVH. The road noise (which could be due to the stock Apollo Alnacs) and overall ambient noises inside the cabin are on the higher side. Better insulation would have surely complemented an otherwise fantastic highway package.
  • Weak headlamps and foglamps – While much improved over the older Figo, the headlamps still aren’t the most confidence-inspiring on night drives. The reflectors are of poor quality and burn out eventually (known issue). The foglamp throw is almost non-existent.
  • Fixed rear headrests – The backseat comfort is significantly reduced due to the fixed headrests which at best support your neck.
  • No armrests (front and rear) – The diesel engine ensures negligible gearshifts on the highways and an armrest for the driver is missed. Further to the point, a rear armrest would have added to the comfort at the rear.
  • Limited authorized service centre competence – Have been to 3 different service centres in 3 different states, and none seemed to know the difference between a normal Figo and the Sports edition. One guy even pointed out how I risk losing the warranty for the “upsized” tyres Getting them to acknowledge finer problems and sounds is, as usual, a bit difficult but nothing out of the ordinary.

Background and Requirements

Like most BHPians, my love affair with automobiles dates back to my childhood. I landed my first job in 2017. Owning a car was a dream that I harboured for a long time. Now with my earnings, I wanted to make it a reality. I was advised by a whole lot of folks on how it was a financial suicide putting money in a depreciating asset and taking on debt so early in my career. But I just couldn’t make peace with the fact that I am letting go of a long-held dream. Hence, with a ‘you-only-live-once’ attitude, I decided to buy a car. It was an emotional purchase in the truest sense of the term. Also, I was fortunate enough to be born into a family that did not need my financial support for at least 10 years to come. All in all, I am aware it was not the most sound decision on my part but it has been the one that has brought me the most joy for the past 4.5 years.

I wanted the following things out of my first car:

  • Powerful engine – 0-100kmph in around 10 seconds (I am an engine guy)
  • Good handling and stability complement the engine
  • Manual Transmission
  • Spacious enough for 4 people and their luggage
  • Safety – at least 2 airbags with ABS and EBD must; the more the better
  • Good looks – They say if you don’t look back after you’ve parked here, you’ve made the wrong choice
  • Decent fuel efficiency
  • INR 7-9 lakhs on-road

There were a few no-compromise features I wanted in the car:

  • Safety equipment mentioned above
  • Automatic climate control
  • Decent sounding audio system
  • Height adjustable driver’s seat
  • Powered ORVMs
  • Tachometer

All other features apart from these provided steeply diminishing marginal utility to me. I was basically looking for a sweet mechanical package as my top priority. I was oblivious to the value pre-worshipped cars offer at that point in time, hence the only options I considered were new cars.

Cars Considered

As the main criterion for the purchase was driving pleasure with a mix of practicality thrown in, the feeling that a car induced was paramount.

Hyundai Elite i20 1.4 CRDi

The i20 was a good-looking hatchback. On paper, it ticked the most boxes. It was the Sportz variant that was a little over the upper limit of my budget, but manageable in EMI terms. The car had the best interior quality I had seen in the segment. The polo felt more solid but the overall ambience of the Hyundai cabin was better. It had all the features I needed and was spacious too. The 1.4L engine had fantastically controlled NVH, revved freely, and felt punchy in the lower gears. Plus, it had a 6-speed gearbox. However, there was one catch, the driving feel.

The steering was a bit numb, the suspension tuned for comfort, and the engine, although fast, did not excite me. All in all, It was a car that appealed to my brain more than my heart. The car, however, made it to the top 3 due to the fantastic overall package.

Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS

The Baleno RS was the new entrant into the ‘warm’ hatch segment. The car was the most spacious by far, with the biggest boot. The quality of the interiors was also not a deal-breaker. The 1L turbo-petrol motor was quick too but there were 2 flaws in the package for me – The handling and the perceived lightness. The suspension felt fine even though a little soft, however, it was the steering which was devoid of feel (I was surprised since the swift had a delightful EPS unit). To top it off, the car felt a bit tinny to me (no offence meant). The price too was out of my budget and there was no compelling reason for me to stretch my budget. Overall, it tipped the scale more in terms of practicality than fun and was rejected.

Abarth Punto

Pure wishful thinking. It was the hot hatch amongst the crop of ‘warm’ hatches. The engine, the handling, the steering, and the brakes were exceptional. The only 2 gripes – Ergonomics and gearshift were dwarfed in light of the overall worthiness of the package. The car was way over budget and stretching didn’t seem an option. Sometimes, I wonder what if I had waited for a couple of months and stretched my budget? Could have been an Abarth standing in my garage.

Volkswagen Polo

This was the car that came the closest to the Figo when making the final decision. There were 3 variants of the Polo that I was interested in, The Comfortline diesel (1.5L 90HP), The GT TDI (1.5L 105HP) and the GT TSI (1.2L 105HP). The GT variants were rejected as they overshot my budget by quite a bit, even though I was smitten by the 1.2 TSI + DSG combo. I also felt that the GT TDI lost its USP with the discontinuation of the older 1.6 TDI engine, as now it was basically a Highline polo with a remap (no offence).

The 90HP diesel Polo felt very solid and drove differently from the other cars I had driven. It had that ‘European’ characteristics in its drive. The car had a sporty feeling, low seating, great quality and a diesel engine which, though loud, had a good punch and revved to ~5200 rpm!! The ride too had a nicely damped characteristic. The steering, even though better than the Hyundai and the Maruti had a slightly artificial feel.

The Comfortine variant did not have automatic climate control as well but I figured I could live with that. The major deal-breaker for the Polo was the rear seat space. I am 5’10” with a laid-back driving position and with me in the driver’s seat, the car was effectively a 3-seater!

Nonetheless, the Polo too made it to the top 3 of the shortlist.

Ford Figo Sports 1.5 TDCi

Ever since the Figo was launched, I found the package to be highly appealing as a practical enthusiast’s car. The 1.5L diesel motor was a stonking engine and made even more torque than it did in the Ecosport! BHPian Karan561’s review of his sweet Figo diesel with the Momo alloys further solidified my liking for the car. By pitting the Ford against a GT TDI in a drag race, Karan561 effectively answered the one question lingering on my mind. The diesel Figo was one of the fastest diesel hatchbacks around. The overall package though seemed a tad half-baked. Sure, it had the engine and the performance, but the handling and build were a departure from the earlier Figo. Plus, I never could digest the chrome grille of the Figo/Aspire.

Ford launched the Sports variants of the Figo/Aspire in 2017 and called them the Figo S and Aspire S respectively. The ‘S’ monicker brought back memories of an Aquarius Blue Ford Fiesta S pulling a hand-brake turn to slot into a parking space in front of a hotel (attaching the ad for everyone’s viewing pleasure)

The Fiesta S was the machine that defined the ‘S’ badge amongst enthusiasts. I was waiting with glee for the initial reviews to pour in and the Team-BHP official review pointed out that the Figo/Aspire S variants were not as focused as the erstwhile Fiesta S. Sure the suspension was a bit stiffer and the tyres were wider along with a front anti-roll bar, but the entire setup was tuned more towards ‘practicality’. The changes transformed the Figo/Aspire S into cars they should have been from Day 1. While I was a bit square with Ford’s strategy of holding back on a niche variant and diluting the ‘S’ brand, all of this meant that the problems I had with the ‘normal’ Figo diesel were rectified to a great extent.

Took a test drive of a Titanium+ Aspire diesel as the dealership did not have a Figo test drive vehicle let alone an ‘S’ test car. There was a Ruby Red Figo S at the dealership already allocated to a customer which was offered to me for a test drive, but I politely declined. The 1.5L TDCi engine was a gem, pushed me back into the seat and had a superb low-end at the same time. The steering too was feelsome and direct. The 2 issues I had with the drive were – lack of grip during braking/cornering from the tyres and the slightly floaty feeling at higher speeds. I trusted the S variant to remedy both of these.

Coming down to the final 3 – Elite i20 Sportz CRDi, Polo Comfortline TDi, and Figo S 1.5 TDCi. I also wanted my family’s buy-in on the final decision, and as expected, the familial sentiment swung in the favour of the i20 as it was a ‘safe’ & ‘reliable’ choice. However, it was I who was going to drive the car and maintain it solely, hence the final decision was left to me. I did toy with the idea of an Aspire S as well for the extra boot space but ultimately felt that I didn’t want to compromise on the looks for some added boot space (The Figo looked better to me personally).

I just couldn’t connect with the i20 as a fun-to-drive car. Its intended purpose seemed different and rightly so. Between the Polo and the Figo S, it was a matter of positives and negatives relative to a common package both cars offered. In effect, both had punchy diesel engines, great design, the required feature set, and a sporty intent –

The Figo S offered the following over the Polo:

  • Better steering feel
  • Cheaper maintenance
  • Space and usable backseat

The Polo offered the following over the Figo:

  • Better build quality
  • Better mod potential
  • Better structural safety (4-star NCAP rating)

Overall, I found the Figo S 1.5 TDCi more suited to my requirements. Incidentally, it was also the car that I enjoyed driving more than the Polo. To each his own, I wouldn’t have gone wrong with the Polo either, however, it was the Figo that lured me more.

Some random cars

Car buying is such an exciting phase for me that I couldn’t help but shortlist a couple of cars just for the heck of it. Here goes the wild card list:

Maruti Suzuki Alto K10

I genuinely had an insane amount of fun piloting this little car in the city. The low weight coupled to the 1L engine makes it a hoot to drive below 100kmph. The heart wandered towards this, just because of the smiles it had given me, to be stopped by the mind in time.

Tata Nexon/Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza

The lowest variants of these 2 compact SUVs seemed within reach and I was more interested in the Nexon than the Brezza as it had just been launched then. A quick visit to the dealership and re-look at the requirements ruled both out.

Getting her home

Booking & Delivery Experience

I was working in Jamshedpur when I bought my car and there was a single Ford dealership in town: Jayshree Ford. Once I had finalized my choice, I moved really fast to initiate the purchase process. Incidentally, I had paid the booking amount for an Oxford White Figo S 1.5L TDCi post the Aspire diesel test drive. Such was my excitement around the car. But more importantly, the Sports variant of the Figo and the Aspire was not readily available and the dealership told me that they needed a booking to place an order for that variant of the car. This seemed believable to me, moreover, a quick chat with the prospective owner of the smoking hot Ruby Red Figo Sports and with another dealership in my hometown aligned with the dealer’s word. Of all the cars I had test-driven to make the choice, the Figo was the one I had immediately booked, intuition or what!

The ‘S’ was a sparsely selling variant of a below-average selling car. Even the salesman was surprised at my choice. The dealership tried their best to up-sell the Titanium+ variant of the Figo as they had that available. This is where I think Ford lost out on a good marketing opportunity. In my opinion, cars like the Figo/Aspire S are targeted at the Indian enthusiast and are supposed to generate excitement towards the brand. However, you can’t expect a niche model to garner attention if the dealerships themselves are not too sure about the specifications of the variant. I had asked my parents to check for the availability of a Figo S diesel in my hometown and the showroom staff was aghast at their inquiry about the Sports variant over the ‘normal’ Titanium variant. “Sir, Ford is charging a stupendous premium for wider tyres and blacked-out roof/wheels while deleting ‘features’ like the ‘Chrome Grille’ and ‘Body-coloured ORVMs’!”, they said.

Looking past all this and staying adamant on my choice of the Sports variant, I instructed the dealer to place the order for my car at Ford’s factory in Sanand. Then ensued the long wait to get a vehicle allotted to me. Weeks turned into months and with no clue of a White Figo S, I grew restless. BHPian tharian had just got a beautiful Red Aspire Sports around the time I had finalized my booking. His fantastic ownership review both validated my decision to go with the Figo S and made the wait for my car a tad easier. His Aspire (Rubicon) is a beauty and the subtle modifications he has done to his car have paved the way for my car all along. More on this later though. Take a bow tharian sir for your awesome thread and wishing you lakhs of fun-filled kilometres with Rubicon. This is the beauty of this forum. I learnt almost everything about my car before actually owning it.

The owner/manager of the dealership informed me that Ford isn’t accepting orders for the Sports variant anymore. My heart sank a little as I really had my eye set on this particular car. I knew that cars like performance variants get discontinued sooner rather than later, but this was a bit too soon for Ford. The manager also informed me that the Ruby Red Figo S that I had been seeing since my first visit to the dealership, was available for immediate delivery as the guy who was supposed to buy it, cancelled. I had been seeing that particular car for over 3 months now at the dealership and was told during my Aspire test drive that the car was in their stockyard for the past 4 months before finally finding a taker. The whole situation seemed a little too ‘convenient’, with Ford discontinuing a model listed on their website within 8 months of launch and a 7-month-old example being suddenly available.

Now, I do understand manufacturers can pull the plug on a variant and Ford is surely not new to doing this, I was upset that I was told about this after more than 3 months of my booking. I know manufacturers and dealers have much closer visibility on the availability of variants than this. Since I just had a hunch and the dealer had been very decent to engage with till now, I decided to write to the head of sales at Ford India to express my displeasure with the whole booking process. I conveyed my regret at the sub-par treatment that I received as a prospective buyer and sought clarification on Figo Sports’ availability. The mail worked wonders and voila! I had the VIN number of the particular car assigned to me within a week.

I did a detailed PDI before approving the car and we finally took delivery on 19 November 2017, with my parents being the ones to drive it out of the showroom. I would rate the overall dealership experience to be good as aside from the vehicle allotment hiccup, everything else was handled seamlessly by them.

Price and Discounts

The amounts are accurate to the nearest 1000

Ford Figo Sports 1.5 TDCi Titanium

Ex-showroom price = Rs 7,21,000

  • Paid accessories = Reversing camera with built-in IRVM display (Rs 11,000)
  • Free accessories = Seat covers (pretty good!), Floor mats, Car perfume
  • Discount = Rs 25,000 (Corporate discount + cash discount)
  • Insurance (Zero Dep) = Rs 22,000
  • Handling charges = Rs 0 (was easy to get these waived)
  • Extended Warranty (2 years) = Rs 12,000
  • Road Tax = Rs 77,000

On-Road Price = Rs 8,18,000

Continue reading BHPian Vibhanshu0923’s Ford Figo review for more insights and information.

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