The small car hatchback segment is a very confusing one. Especially the ones wherein one has to decide entry level diesel hatchbacks.With more and more car launches coming up, it is quite prudent that the buyers would be all the more confused. Now many questions arise as to which is India’s best entry level diesel hatchback? If I were to be personally answering this question, then it would come down to the Ford Figo tdci or the Maruti Ritz DDIS. Go for the base variants. But then the question remains. Which one is better? So here I am to solve this query the Lijo way and that is by getting both these cars face to face. Being safety conscious, I have taken the top end variants which come with Airbags (optional) on one car/ standard on the other and ABS, so now, I have got the Maruti Ritz VDI ABS in India facing off against the Ford Figo TDCI Titanium. If there is something which I need, then it is one more tester and that happens to be the newest inclusion to the Indiandrives team, Jerin. So off we set to compare the Ford Figo and the Maruti Ritz in the quest for finding India’s best entry level diesel hatchback.
Ford Figo : The Ford Figo in India mimics the “Kinetic Design” adopted by Ford the world over. It has got that sharp edge face which is said to be Ford’s corporate grille for almost all their upcoming cars in India and the world. The 2011 Fiesta would also display some of these traits. Ford have always believed in giving India, some India specific cars and the Figo is the result of it. However what many don’t know is that Ford uses existing car platforms and sometimes design cues from their older discontinued models. The design philosophy of the Figo is similar to that of the European Fiesta. The head lamps are real slick with painted and dark surfaces whereas the trapezoidal grille stamps the Kinetic Design theory. From the rear end, the car looks quite similar to the now discontinued Ford Fusion.
Maruti Ritz : The Maruti Ritz in India is no spring chicken. It wouldn’t win any beauty pageants however those who want to buy a Ritz wouldn’t obviously be looking at a Lamborghini style design. Instead they would be looking more for a utility type design. Everything about the Ritz speaks of a person who has got muscles to show but then recently contracted some disease and then lost all weight. The rear end resembles the Honda CR-V too much and that isn’t a bad thing for a small car, is it?
It would be the Ford Figo on this one, though I am saying this with a heavy heart since my heart is all for the Maruti Ritz.
Ford Figo : The Ford Figo in India comes in an optional Coral hue for its interiors. Many would puke over it whilst lot many would love a different color to the interiors than the usual boring beige and black used by many cars. The top end variant of the Ford Figo comes with a factory fitted music system which has got Bluetooth integration to it. I for my life haven’t found it so tough to integrate the audio system’s Bluetooth to my phone. Imagine the 2011 Volkswagen Passat’s audio system has lot more intuitiveness to it than this one. The airconditioner also works perfectly fine with its fully closable flaps and stuff. Front seats are comfortable though the rear ones are placed a bit lower and ingress/egress is a bit of problem. The boot release mechanism was placed on my passenger’s side while the indicator stalks were also on the left side of the steering wheel. This clearly indicates that Ford wants to sell this same car to left hand drive markets as well. Rear passenger seat space however is better than that of the Polo, in which, I had an harrowing time. Boot space is nothing to talk about as it is a small car after all. Unfortunately, coming to the rear, the Figo misses out on one important factor, the rear doors haven’t got power windows and one has to wind them up or down, manually. Moreover, the glass doesn’t come down fully.
Maruti Ritz : The Maruti Ritz in India is as sparsely equipped with features as the other Maruti cars. This car, come to think of it, doesn’t come with a music system. The airconditioner makes a whole lot of effort to keep the cabin cool however it fails in front of the Figo’s AC. The seats however are comfortable both in the front and at the rear, even with the front seats pushed back. head room as also leg room is terrific. The shoulder room however is a bit lacking. The Figo sits squatter than the Ritz and also has more of shoulder room. With its airy cabin, the Ritz however feels more comfortable of the two. Boot space is also comparable with the Figo, though its a bit more deeper. The build quality however is an equal in both with the Figo’s feeling better finished.
The Maruti Ritz for the comfort factor while the Figo as far as the equipment list goes, even in base trim.
Handling and ride quality
Maruti Ritz : The Maruti Ritz is built on the same platform as the Maruti Swift. Now, everyone knows that the Maruti Swift is one hell of a car as far as its cornering capabilities are concerned. However the Ritz is a tall boy design which has given more emphasis on the ride quality rather than outright handling which the Swift is known for. Ride quality is commendable though sharp protrusions do catch it off guard. On the highways, the Ritz due to the tall boy design, is a bit prone to cross winds. However handling is not too bad for a tall boy. it does roll a fair bit but compared to the other tall boys like Wagon R or the Hyundai Santro, its level of roll is a bit less. NVH is acceptable for a diesel car though. Roll up the windows and the level of clatter from the diesel engine reduces significantly. Visibility all around except for the rear is very good though. Steering wheel feel is a bit better than that of the Swift and the Ritz lets you dictate the terms rather than the other way round.
Ford Figo : The Ford Figo uses the outgoing Indian Fiesta’s platform and this means that the handling is a class apart as far as smaller cars are compared. The Figo has a ride quality which is more or less the same as the Ritz however in the long run, it is the Figo which projects a more pliant ride quality. It has got a wider track and longer wheelbase. This makes it very stable on the highways. NVH is similar to the Maruti’s however the TDCI motor feels a wee bit more refined than the Fiat sourced multijet engine. Handling is something which is very similar to the Ritz’s cousin, the Swift. Visibility however is impeded by the thicker A pillars. Ford as well as Maruti are giving reverse parking sensors for their cars at an additional Rs 1200. I believe its well worth the investment. The steering wheel of the Figo deserves a special mention as it is accurately tuned, just like the rest of the Ford cars.
The Ford Figo for its overall dynamics and the Ritz for its ease of driving.
Engine, performance and fuel efficiency
Maruti Ritz : The Maruti Ritz in India comes with the 1248 cc diesel engine sourced from Fiat. This engine makes 75 Ps of peak power while the torque figure reads as 190 Nm. It is aligned with a short and stubby gear lever. This gearbox is really smooth and clutch action light as well. The Ritz does feel fast on the move and reached its top speed of 161 kmph in about 33 seconds. The 0-100 kmph run was completed under 15 seconds. The ratios are closely spaced for efficient use in the city, thus requiring lesser gear changes. The brakes are fantastic while displaying typical Maruti trait of overservoing their stoppers. ABS comes in handy to take care of panicky situations. Safety however is a bit compromised with Maruti offering air bags as option only on the top end variant. Fuel efficiency, as expected, from all the Maruti cars is stellar and especially in its diesel avatar, the Ritz manages to rake in overall mileage of 18.8 kmpl.
Ford Figo : The Ford Figo is also a borrower in the sense that it gets its 1.4 liter Duratorq engine from the bigger Fiesta. This engine makes 69 Ps of power and 160 Nm of torque. It get a 5 speed manual transmission for company. The transmission is butter smooth and a pleasure to use.No wonder, I was shifting up and down the gears more often. Not that I like it but then this gearbox has got higher ratios and hence the whole lot of shifting around process in the city. The Figo races from 0-100 kmph in 16.2 seconds while the top speed of 157 kmph is dispatched in 35 seconds. Brakes are powerful enough and with the standard ABS, the Figo stops well ahead of the Ritz. Figo comes with standard twin airbags in the front and a collapsible steering column. Fuel efficiency is a bit higher on the highways than the Ritz but the frequent gear changes in the city takes its toll on the overall fuel efficiency which comes to 18.3 kmpl.
The Ford Figo on this one due to its better safety features as also the perfect combination of the engine and power train.
This also was one of the closely contested competition. Both the cars outdid each other in almost all the parameters that we had set out here. But as much as I would hate to say it, the Figo bests the Ritz overall. This doesn’t mean that the Ritz isn’t a competitive product. The very fact that it gives a better space utilization, easier to drive configuration plus better top speed and fuel economy than the Figo is more in the competitive ball park. However the Figo bests the Maruti with its dynamic abilities, engine transmission combination as also better features. The difference widens in their prices with the Maruti Ritz VDI price in India at Rs 5,34,201 while the Ford Figo TDCI Titanium retailing at Rs 5, 48,449. Both the prices are ex-show room, Mumbai. Time for some diesel (ling) drive.