Ford has equipped with Figo 1.2 petrol with a six-speed auto ‘box. Does it make for the most convenient ‘warm’ hatch?

For the longest time, if you wanted to buy a Ford Figo with an automatic gearbox, you could have only had it with the larger 1.5-litre petrol engine. On paper, the 1.5-litre motor had a respectable power output, but in the real world, it offered lukewarm performance and rather dismal fuel efficiency. If you wanted a Ford that also offered good performance, you were better off opting for the 1.5-litre diesel engine with the manual gearbox. With the 1.5-litre petrol engine being discontinued, Ford is now offering an automatic variant powered by the more affordable and frugal 1.2-litre petrol engine. But does this convenience (at an affordable price point) come at the expense of smile-inducing performance? Nothing has changed visually, which means this Figo looks exactly the same as the updated version launched in 2019. I am not a fan of chrome elements but in this case, the chrome trim on the grille and fog lamp surrounds goes well with the car's deep red hue. It also gets premium-looking 15-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels now. The Figo has always been good-looking and in my opinion, has aged well. 

The cabin sports an all-black dashboard that has a quirky feel to it, especially the centre console. The seven-inch floating screen is a nice touch but its layout feels basic when you consider the competition. That brings me to features. The infotainment system supports Bluetooth connectivity with the FordPass app but lacks current-day features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. However, it has inbuilt navigation! Features available include automatic headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, a push-button start, hill-hold and reverse camera. The seats are comfortable and the legroom and knee room at the rear are reasonably good, making it a cheery place for passengers. However the quality of plastics used for the switchgear, dashboard and door pads is a letdown. 

The 1,194cc three-pot engine offers 96PS and 119Nm, fantastic figures for a naturally-aspirated petrol engine. Most of the performance is accessible in the 3,000 to 4,500rpm band and is accompanied by a throaty exhaust note. Post that performance tapers off and the engine starts to feel strained so you are better off short shifting and staying in the meat of the powerband. 

The Figo's calling card though is the six-speed torque converter gearbox, given that most of its rivals get AMT boxes. Slot it in drive, lift off the brake pedal and the Figo starts off cleanly thanks to a well-modulated creep function. The gearbox offers seamless shifts for a smooth drive. The gearbox is tuned to optimise fuel efficiency (Ford claims 16kmpl for the AT!) in Drive mode, as upshifts come early in the mode. Step on the throttle and the transmission will downshift, albeit in an unhurried manner. Drive mode thus feels relaxed, so if in the mood for driving more aggressively, Sport mode is the one you need to choose.

The gearbox lets you hold a gears all the way to the redline in Sport before shifting up. This allows more confident overtakes on the highway. Throttle responses at low revs are sharper in Sport mode, to the point that it can feel disconcerting in stop and go traffic. The Figo also gets the rather annoying manual shift pattern which is a plus and minus switch on the side of the drive selector stick. These take getting used to but work well.

Overall, the powertrain does not reward spirited driving as much as it makes the Figo a relaxed and quick city slicker. The bigger highlight as always though are the car's dynamics and its brilliant ride quality. In fact, we've always liked the Figo for its handling and that hasn't changed. The steering is precise and feels light at low speeds but weighs up nicely as you go faster. The car also feels confident around corners, with just a wee bit of body roll and also soaks up mid-corner bumps very appreciably. The Apollo tyres our test car was shod with offered excellent grip and inspired lots of confidence around corners. Brakes are strong but progressive too. Prices for the Figo AT start from Rs 7.75 lakh onwards which is a good price considering what the car offers, though it does feel a bit dated given its refreshed rivals. Ford needs to give the car a makeover to have it appeal to enthusiasts all over again, since the powertrain and dynamics both are very impressive even today. The automatic transmission is of course the biggest talking point here and is a welcome addition in our books.

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