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Squeeze. That’s what Ford calls this shade of green. The colour green has numerous connotations. On the positive side, it is associated with eco-friendliness; however, green is also negatively linked to the colour of envy.

Last month, we drove the Figo petrol. We were mighty impressed with its ride, handling, space and comfort. Of course, the price seemed almost too good to be true. But it wasn’t perfect. The engine albeit smooth, lacked punch and the so-so fuel economy wouldn’t turn our frown upside down. The Figo in its diesel avatar seems an even more compelling package than its petrol sibling. Lurking under its bonnet is the same 1399cc TDCi which has served the Fiesta and Ikon so well. Renowned for its smoothness, drivability and fuel economy, surely this one’s a winner?

For starters, diesel cars always hold a special allure, especially because they are so much cheaper to run. You can stretch a buck for quite a few more kilometres in a diesel car and we Indians love that. But what about the rest of the car? The old prejudices against diesel are waning and with this engine you can see why. Crank the motor, and yes you do feel a bit of vibration as the car starts up. It isn’t intrusive in any way, but you can feel it ever so slightly. The shift action feels heavier than it did in the petrol Figo and it is a bit notchy too. The clutch too is heavier, but then it would be considering the beefy nature of diesel engines.

On the move, you can sense the heaviness in the Figo’s bow, especially when there are only one or two people in the car. When a particular model has both diesel and petrol engine options, there are certain alterations required in the suspension settings. The Figo’s predecessors were never designed around a diesel engine and although Ford’s Indian engineers have done a commendable job in fitting the diesel under the bonnet, there are certain inherent compromises with such a project. You miss the crispness the lighter petrol version enjoys and especially on switchback bends, the diesel Figo doesn’t feel as incisive as its petrol brother. All told though, it’s still a Ford and it’s still pretty good fun at the helm.

The engine in many ways suits the character of this car. The Figo is a sober, grown up car (except for the brick red dashboard!). The engine is flexible and tractable, but like most diesels, you need to be anywhere above 1800-2000rpm before the torque starts to talk. At times, especially in traffic, if you slip below that even slightly, the Figo feels dead in the water. This means you need to work the gears to stay in the meat of the power band. Thankfully, the TDCi motor doesn’t have the surge that many others do, which makes it a little bit easier to rein in in nose to tail traffic. Out on the highway, the Figo isn’t the most brisk drive and sometimes you find yourself wishing it had a little more punch. There’s little sense in revving it though as after 4000rpm all you have is more noise.

I’m faced with a conundrum in judging this car. It’s a good car, a very good car in fact. It’s spacious, has a good blend of ride and handling, feels reasonably well built and is light on the pocket. Prices start at a tad over five lakh rupees for the entry-level EXi variant, ranging to just under six lakh rupees for the Titanium. You can’t ignore the value equation here at all. At this price, the Figo manages to undercut most of its competition. Yes, it lacks zest, verve or whatever else you may want to call it and a bright green paint along with a red dashboard don’t really make up for that. But as an everyday car, it’s hard to fault.

 

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