The Ford Figo in India unanimously won the “Car of the Year” award at almost all of the auto awards function speaks volumes about its capabilities. The first time when I set my eyes on a Ford Figo, I thought it to be a mini Fusion and believe me, I wasn’t much off the mark. Even the fully loaded Titanium variant lacked rear power windows and this annoyed me. The absence of alloy wheels also made me think about Ford’s strategy with this hatchback but then when they revealed the price of Rs 3.43 lakhs for the base variant, revelation dawned upon me. Now, I wouldn’t be the right person at this time to comment on the Ford’s demerits ever since it has been crowned the winner but then Nissan Motors India Limited threw a bomb at us in the form of the Nissan Micra in India. Time for the swords to be drawn and whether or not, the new challenger usurps the throne unofficially from the king to be seen. Since the Ford Figo diesel variant out sells its petrol variant, we have pitted both the diesel variants of the cars and that too, as always, high end ones. So here comes Ford Figo versus Nissan Micra.
Ford Figo- Too much of Ford Fusion cues abound and this is very evident from the nose of the car. The Ford Figo in India has a wide gaping air dam whereas the front grille is a small aperture. The Blue Oval logo sits proudly atop the chrome lined horizontal slat. The tear drop head lamps seem somewhat wicked on this small hatch. There are fog lamp slats provided but then there aren’t any lamps present. The side profile shows blacked out pillars in the car. The mirrors are body colored as are the door handles. The 14 inch wheels with wheel covers fitted over them don’t look elegant. From the rear, the Ford Fusion cues are abundant and there is a single wiper doing duty as well.
Nissan Micra- Well, I have always maintained that the Nissan Micra in India looks cute and is more in the league of the Fiat 500 and the Volkswagen Beetle rather than as a less pricey everyday automobile. The diesel retains all that design cues. The apple cut front face also follows the Figo’s design theme with a bigger air dam and lower front grille. The fog lamps are very small units and are embedded in the integrated bumper. The Nissan Micra diesel gets 15 inch alloy wheels and they are of the subtle types. The rear end features a good hatch release which feels very chunky to hold. The small glass area is effectively cleaned by the single wiper.
So who wins this round, obviously, the Nissan Micra dCi.
Ford Figo– If comfort is what you are looking for, then the Ford Figo in India is the better option of the two. Its front seat or to be specific, the driver seat requires some callisthenics to get in(strictly 6 foot plus people and above). Once in, you get quite intimate with the dashboard as your knees would be rubbing against it. The 3 spoke steering wheel seems derived from the old Ford F250 pickup truck. I just love the coral hue of the interiors, seen especially in the top end variant of the Ford Figo.This car is heavy on some unthinkable features whereas low on some essentials. The latter has been already discussed. The techno geeks would find the Bluetooth synchronization useful as is the audio streaming facility from the MP3 player. The Ford however misses out on steering adjust and also some of the creature comforts that you would expect. Rear sear space is also good for a small hatch and even the under thigh support is excellent. However the taller passengers would most likely get their hair styles messed up due to the sloping roof line. The boot space is also a usable lot with it swallowing upto 2 big suitcases. Cubby holes abound with deep door map pockets.
Nissan Micra- The Nissan Micra in India comes with different spec levels than its European counterpart. It has got front seats aided partly by the adjustable steering column and the smaller diameter steering wheel. It has also got climate control, CD/MP3 player and also an aux input. It also gets a segment first, the push button engine start/stop system. The upholstery uses a combination of beige and grey. The stalks and controls also seem better than the ones on the Ford Figo. Rear seat space however seems a bit tight and lacking in the under thigh region. The door handles also seem derived from the Nissan GTR and that is absolutely not a bad thing. It has got electric folding mirrors and also better head room at the rear. There is a general feeling of quality everywhere in the cabin for the Nissan Micra dCi. The door map pockets aren’t so deep and can barely hold a thing in place. The boot space though is a tad smaller than the Ford’s but then it compensates by way of its deepness.
It would be the Nissan Micra dCi winning this round with its feature laden list.
Handling and ride quality
Ford Figo– The Ford Figo in India comes with independent McPherson struts at the front and non-independent twist beam at the rear. This setup helps it achieve the best of both the worlds. The ride at low speeds is a bit jiggly however it doesn’t feel that way once the speeds rise. The car effectively smothers all road imperfections once it is in its element. The steering as with all Fords is very direct and delivers the best feedback in its class, the Maruti Swift included. The hydraulic assisted unit isn’t too light at city speeds but then, it is full of feel. As far as the handling goes, the Ford Figo handles corners with aplomb. It is left wanting in the engine department as the not so powerful engine cannot power the car effectively out of a corner. Using the chassis from the old generation European Fiesta has certainly helped matters for this car and bumped up the comfort quotient. Engine noise is well insulated from the occupants till speeds of upto 100 kmph however once the speeds rise up, the diesel clatter is evident.
Nissan Micra- The Nissan Micra in India also comes with the same suspension set up as the Ford Figo, with only a difference of non independent torsion beam at the rear. The ride quality at low speeds is definitely composed than the Figo’s but then it becomes nervous and fidgety once the speeds climb up. It doesn’t seem to like road abrasions at high speeds and tends to display a bob/pitch action. The handling is more tuned for the city use where the electronic power steering with its light feel, delivers an easy driving experience. Ranbir Kapoor had me convinced in the ads and now I can feel it in the real sense of the word. The ultra light steering wheel is a joy to operate however the same cannot be said of it at high speeds. It lacks the feel of the Ford Figo’s unit at highway speeds. Engine noise is also a bit more muffled than the Ford’s. Female buyers would be delighted with the all round visibility and easy going nature of the Nissan Micra diesel.
Of course, it would the Ford Figo winning this round.
Engine, performance and fuel efficiency
Ford Figo– The Ford Figo in India uses the same diesel motor as derived from the Ford Fiesta in India. The 1.4 liter 4 cylinder engine pumps out 68 Bhp of peak power and 160 Nm of torque. It is mated with one of the slickest 5 speed manual transmissions in the market. The short gearing and easy shifting gears help overcome the power deficit that this car possess. It races from 0-100 kmph in 16.33 seconds and reaches a top speed of 138 kmph. The diesel engine as I had experienced from the Ford Fiesta is a responsive unit but then it doesn’t take kindly to be been revved. The clutch action is also very light. In gear roll on figures are also okay for its segment but then it is nothing exceptional.
Braking is achieved via discs at the front and drums at the rear. The Ford Figo Tdci Titanium variant also gets ABS and ESP as part of its package. Brake feel could have been a bit better on this though. As far as safety goes, Ford Motors India Limited have offered the car with dual air bags, collapsible steering column and three point seat belts.
Fuel efficiency is what the puny motor delivers in spades. It gives 14.1 kmpl in the city whereas the shorter gearing sees it deliver only 18.5 kmpl on the highway.
Nissan Micra- The 1.5 liter 4 cylinder diesel engine for the Nissan Micra in India is derived from the Renault Logan. This engine makes 63 Bhp and 160 Nm of torque. Though low in capacity and power output than the competition here, the Micra more than makes up with its low kerb weight of 1008 kgs, which is about 120 kgs less than the Ford Figo. But this engine has almost no turbo lag and helps in propelling the car from 0-100 kmph in a good 15.7 seconds. The widespread torque and its linear power delivery coupled with the free revving nature of the motor helps this car to achieve a top speed of 143 kmph. The engine does sound a bit strained at this speeds but then, not much than the Figo’s. Due to negligible turbo lag, this engine even fares better in the in gear roll on figures. This car is geared tall in the interests of eking out better fuel economy(ARAI promising 23 kmpl).
The brake pedal feel is exemplary in the Nissan with the car offering discs at the front and progressive drums at the rear. Unfortunately, in the interests of cost cutting, ABS has been skimped. Not that I missed it much in the testing phase but then in emergency situations, it would definitely be a life saver.
Speaking of skimping, the company has also skimped on giving a passenger airbag, even as an option. The other safety aids are driver airbag, side intrusion beams, seat belts and collapsible steering column.
Fuel efficiency is where even the Renault Logan derived motor shines. It delivered 14.6 kmpl in the city and the highway figure was somewhat close to what ARAI claimed, at 20.5 kmpl.
This one goes to the Nissan Micra dCi for its frugal and easy driving nature.
This is one test that I can say with confidence that it wasn’t evenly matched contest. Actually most of the test was dominated by one player, that is the Nissan Micra in India with its Nissan Micra dCi model. The Ford Figo in India, with its Ford Figo Tdci Titanium model seems to have been dethroned. The Ford Figo is not a car for first time buyers but more so for the people in the age group of 28-40. It has good space, small footprint, fuel efficient engine and also creature comforts(that is debatable if one would prefer rear power windows or Bluetooth connectivity). The Ford Figo price in India for the top end diesel model is Rs 5.44 lakhs (ex-showroom, Mumbai). Now, the Nissan Micra in India, on the other hand is more of a car for those first timers or female drivers. It is more easy to drive, is more fuel efficient, has almost all the creature comforts one would expect from it(except for safety and Bluetooth). The Nissan Micra price in India is Rs 6.02 lakhs (ex-showroom, Mumbai). With this price difference, you get a fully loaded car but then at a lesser price, the Ford Figo Titanium makes more sense. The choice is yours.