Figo TDCi Titanium Vs Punto MJD Emotion Pack - 2 Diesel cars, 1 buyer - Tough Choice
It was decision time again. After all the relocations were dealt with and the medium term future looking fairly clear, it was time to get a second car. Or rather we needed a primary car, since we wanted to reduce the mileage on the Petra 1.6, which is going 'strong' after almost 6 years and 60,000 kilometres. More about the Petra in another post.
The requirement was for a big diesel hatch, capable of cruising the highways. The first short-list prepared in mid Feb consisted of only 1 car - the Punto MJD Emotion Pack. Test drove it and absolutely loved the ride and the handling. But compared to the Petra, it was slightly slow. Then the rumors about the Punto Sport with the Linea Turbo unit started floating around. So I decided to wait till June to figure out how the Punto Sport would be. In the mean time out came the Polo 1.2 diesel and the Figo 1.4 diesel, to sort of confuse me.
As a first step to the evaluation process, i put together my requirements:
1. Had to be diesel since Im anticipating about 30k highway miles per year for the next few years
2. Good handling
3. Good ride
4. Decent performer
5. Should be able to cruise at 130-140kmph without the car wanting to take off
6. MUST have ABS - do not want any lockups on the highway
7. Budget = INR 7.5L - determined in no small measure by the on-road-price of the Punto MJD EP :-)
8. Driver seat must be comfortable - since most of those highway miles I would be on my own
9. Blue tooth enabled stereo would be nice to have on those long solo drives
So the revised short list looked like this (in order of preference):
1. Fiat Punto EP
2. Ford Figo Titanium
3. VW Polo - ruled out even without a test drive due to the price. The highline which was the only one with ABS costed 8.2L. And the service would probably be pricey as well. But I loved the thud with which the doors shut
4. Swift VDi with ABS - was not too keen on getting another Swift. We had used a petrol swift for a year between May 2008 and May 2009. Though it was a nice car, we wanted something new
5. Hyundai i20 CRDi - Ruled out since 1. I did not like the steering feel and the handling after a test drive on Mysore Road and 2. the price.
6. Skoda Fabia - Too pricey. Also the service was known to be suspect
So that left for a straight shoot out between the Figo and the Punto.
When I started the process, I was not sure as to why I was even bothering to compare the Punto with the Figo. I loved the looks of the Punto (red, black, white, dark grey, you name the color, i loved the looks). It is probably the most proportionate car below 25L in the Indian market at this point in time. During a test drive I had done in Feb, I had taken the car onto NICE Road, and had crossed 140kmph and the car had felt very stable.
In terms of service, while I had a good mechanic in Hariprasad Automobiles in Chamarajpet in Bangalore, availability of spares was still a concern for the Fiat. I had also heard of quality issues with the Punto - beading coming off, clutch failure, alternator failure, etc.
But then again, I loved the looks, the ride and the handling. And I loved the fact that it came with 15" alloys and 195 section tyres.
So I had pretty much decided on the Punto, when the reviews for the Figo starting coming out, raving about its lagless turbo, ride and handling. I had also read GTO's reviews on both the cars. His reviews, while it gave a good idea on the 2 cars, didnt help from a comparison perspective. Most magazines, pick the latest car as the winner in any shootout. And since they were picking the Figo or the Polo over everything else, I decided to do my own shootout between the Figo and the Punto.
Going into Round 2, the Punto was leading by a couple of country miles. There was also this 'rebel' thought going through my mind. After having lived with a discontinued Fiat, most people assumed that I had 'suffered' a lot and thought that no sane person would buy a second Fiat. So if I went out and bought another Fiat, they would write me off as insane/ irrational. How cool is that eh? Even my own mother was shocked to hear that I was seriously considering the Punto - "havent you learnt after the Petra and its spare parts situation?" was what she had to ask!
Interior Fit and Finish
This went clearly to the Figo. I test drove 4 puntos across 2 dealers in bangalore in a span of 2 weeks. Some of these test cars were not more than 2 months old. BUT, each of the 4 cars had something or the other wrong with them.
In two of them the seat height lever was bent. The seat belts seemed to foul with this lever as well.
In one of the test cars, the Hazard switch was jammed, which I felt was unpardonable. A hazard switch is something that could save your life when you are changing a flat tyre on a highway in the middle of the night. That should never ever get jammed even in a 10 year old car, leave alone a 2 month old car.
In one of the test cars, the AC was not cooling. In an Emotion, the flap for the dashboard storage made from the air bag recess on the passanger side would not close. This flap kept flapping about during the entire test drive, which was quite irritating.
Whereas in the Figo, everything felt more tightly put together. But the Coral dash was a little jarring for my ageing eyes. Thank Ford its optional.
On this one, the Punto Emotion Pack won hands down. It had Climate Control, 15" alloys, 195 section tires, audio control on the steering, tilt adjustment for the steering wheel, split folding rear seats.
The Figo Titanium did not have any of these, plus it did not have power windows at the rear, which to me felt like a hard core cost cutting measure. But it did have ABS, Airbags, Blue Tooth enabled stereo. The storage space in the door pads were more capacious than the Punto with space for a full sized bottle.
Getting Comfortable behind the Wheel
Both cars came with height adjustable seats. However, I found the seats on the Figo slightly better with better under thigh, lower back, and head support. Figo also had better side bolsters. The fabric on the Figo seats seemed to be slightly more hard wearing than the one in the Punto. While the Figo did not have tilt adjust steering, the default position felt quite comfortable.
The touch and feel of the Punto steering was much nicer than the Figo, with contours for the thumb and the leather cover. The Punto also seemed to have more information on display - trip computer/ fuel consumption/ etc etc.
Both cars had the indicators on the wrong side of the steering and not on the 'right' side.
The Figo narrowly won this bout, because of the drivers seat comfort. If Im going to spend long hours on the highway, I want a comfortable seat which offers good support more than anything else.
On a related note, the Figo seems to have more space for the rear passengers. The way I did this comparison, I set the drivers seat the way I would normally keep it while driving and sat behind.
On the move
Once you start the engine, in terms of engine NVH, I found the Figo more refined. This could be because of the engine or because of the insulation. But the Figo engine was quieter at idle. Even at cruising speeds, I thought the Figo engine was less audible, with the Punto MJD making a booming sound.
In terms of sheer performance, running through the rev range, the Figo felt peppier. The second gear in the Figo, if i remember right, seemed to go all the way upto around 70kmph. In comparison the first two gears in the Punto were annoyingly short. However the 3rd gear in the Punto seemed very 'versatile'. In gear, I think the Punto is faster.
In terms of the dreaded turbo lag, the Figo had minimum of it. If you cross 1300rpm or so, the turbo starts to do its job in the Figo. Whereas in the Punto you need to cross the 1800rpm mark.
I did not have a chance to really test out the Figo's performance on the open road (since there were long queues to test drive the Figo). However, later that day, I took out a friend's Fiesta diesel for a 20km spin on the highway and found its performance quite good. I used the Fiesta Diesel as a proxy given the same engine/ platform/ wheel base etc.
Overall, too close to call....
Ride and Handling
This is where Punto really stands out. Even on 175mm tyres on 14" wheels in the Emotion, the 'thuds' are muted. Driving over cats eyes, you dont really feel too much inside the cabin. The steering feel is very precise. There is minimal body roll. And at speeds in excess of 130kmph it was very stable. The ride on the Punto I think is comparable to the Octavia.
The Figo on the other hand, felt lighter to drive. Driving through bad patches, while it felt like a big car, it did not mute and insulate the passengers the way the Punto did. Again there was minimal body roll. The steering feel is also precise.
I think picking an outright winner here does not do justice to the Punto. So let me adopt a 5 point scale.
Ride - Punto 5/5. Figo 3/5
Handling - Punto 4/5. Figo 4/5
Didnt really care as long as I got the diesel economy on the highway and both seemed to claim 18-20km on the highway.
Living with the Car - Quality and After Sales Service
Based on inputs from Ikon/ Fiesta owning friends, and my own experiences with the Fiat Petra, what I feel is as below
- Quality of work done during service at ford's and fiat's authorized dealers are equally bad. I would rather find some independent mechanic who is doing this kind of work out of passion. Plus you should have a fairly good idea of how a car works and should be able to tell the mechanics what you want them to do for your car.
- Fiat Spares are more difficult to source than Ford spares (Though Tata claims otherwise, My experience with the Petra says otherwise. I have been waiting for for more than 4 months for a set of radiator hoses. Plus things like AC vents and fuel caps are not available at all!!!)
- Fiat spares are cheaper than Ford spares - but I think this will change with the Figo, since Ford is betting on Figo to drive volumes. Also, the sharing of parts with Fiesta should help.
- The quality issues I found on the 4 Punto test drive cars were not confidence inspiring, plus stories of happy owners forgiving clutch cylinder and alternator failures were a put off.
Overall on this front, I think Ford is more serious about its future in India.
So who do I give my hard earned money.
It was a tight call, performance and handling wise both were evenly matched. Ride wise Punto was much better. Overall fit and finish, Figo was miles ahead, but feature wise, the Punto EP was miles ahead. Drivers seat was slightly better on the Figo. Tough call, but my heart was saying Punto Punto Punto....
So I bought price into the equation. This is where the whole thing turned on its head. Figo Titanium Diesel costs 6.4L on the road in Bangalore, and the Punto MultiJet Emotion Pack costs 7.4L on the road in Bangalore. Thats 1 lakh more.... and what are you getting for the extra lakh? Gorgeous looks, Climate Control, 15" alloys, 195 section tyres, split folding rear seats, audio controls on the steering, steering with tilt adjustments, power windows at the back, and again those gorgeous looks... Out of these nothing is a MUST have feature as far as Im concerned with the possible exception of the gorgeous looks. And 1Lakh is a fair amount of money. Over a 4 year loan, 1 lakh translates to a saving of INR 2504 per month in EMI.
Since my heart was sold on the Gorgeous looks, my heart negotiated with my head to go with the Emotion instead of the Emotion Pack. The Emotion is INR 6.8L on the road in Bangalore. But compared to the Emotion, the Figo has got airbags, bluetooth enabled system, better fit and finish. The Emotion had the goreous looks and the power windows at the back. Thats when the Figo starts to make sense. You factor in the suspect quality and poor fit and finish of the Punto, and the Figo starts to make a lot more sense...
Im a man who likes to think with his heart and act with his head... so I went and booked the Figo despite the 6 week wait period.... And with the money Im saving I plan to upgrade the tyres to 185/60 R 14 and get a Petes tuning box :-)
Rahul, Excellent comparison which I guess would be very helpful for a lot of people with the same confusion. I bought my Punto MJD E pack last November and hence the nearest competitor at that time was only i20. The Polos and Figos were still not there. If I had delayed my purchase, I would have been in the same situation as well. Nevertheless, there is no regrets on buying the Punto so far and have been thoroughly enjoying it. But it is good to see the competition heating up in the premium hatch segment.
One comment on the interior fit and finish though is that even though the plastics in the Punto look cheap, I have never come across a situation where they are just falling apart or breaking easily. Each and every part is holding on to the same place from the time of Purchase. Probably the test drive vehicles were abused quite a bit giving people that impression.
Congrats on the FIGO. FIGO bug is biting the public. Good going for Ford.
DO post the pics and initial ownership once you take delivery of the car.
An excellently written piece - cannot agree more with the conclusions drawn. I was in a similar quandry and this gives additional clarity to my thoughts
Absolutely riveting story. Although, I think your heart could have done a better job of negotiating with your head. ;)
By the way, Vista too was fitting your requirements (bluetooth etc) pretty well - your head had nothing to say there?
This thread accurately reflects why the Punto is losing out to Figo and Polo. 1L price difference between Figo Titanium and Punto Emo Pack makes a lot of buyers go for the Figo. ~50K price difference between Punto Emo Pack and Polo Highline makes a lot of buyers migrate to the Polo - despite both cars lacking features compared to the Punto. No big difference in A.S.S as well between these cars. Fiat's past is haunting the Punto, along with the interior fit and finish.
But I agree with StarrySky's summary that its Fiat's past and the poor fit and finish which is haunting the Punto. I have had a horrible experience with the Tata Service, where they carelessly broke parts which they are not able to replace since these parts are not available!!!
Your comparison on both the cars are perfect. Very well written.
You haven't mention the color & discounts etc.
Very good comparison and Figo seems to be the right choice.
I hope Fiat right prices the Punto and does justice to the Car which so many of us love but few us eventually buy.
Also, looking at yr requirement, why didn't you look at Manza quadrajet? Its a very good car and handles quite well.
First & foremost, let me congratulate you on the Figo! Second, thanks for sharing such a detailed throughly unbiased report on both cars. Even though you booked the Ford, your comments on the Fiat are as straight-forward as they come.
For the benefit of others:
Looks : Punto. Italians understand style better than anyone else
Build : Punto feels a tad more solid (though both are NOT flimsy). But the Figo has better consistency in fit & finish (especially interiors).
City driving : Ford Figo. Minimal turbo lag.
Light controls & chuckability : Figo
Fuel efficiency : Both equal, though I'd presume the Figo would have an outright edge (lighter, no turbolag).
Straight line expressway stability : Punto
Steering : Punto. At speed, Punto. Best steering this side of 10 lakhs
Interior comfort : Both more or less the same
Equipment : Punto. But then, its priced higher too
Niggles : The Punto has / will have more. The Figo feels decidedly built with more precision
VFM : This is where Ford's brilliant pricing kills the Fiat. The Figo clearly gives you more car per car. Its popularity in the market, and on the forum, clearly demonstrates that.
Personally, my advice would be : If you can afford it & stretch your budget, go for the Punto. If on a budget, or VFM matters very highly to you, the Figo. My brother may need a hatchback in the coming months (I'm convincing him on a pre-worshipped luxo sedan though :)), and the Punto is top on my list. Especially with that sport version 'em Fiat India is talking about. Somehow, the Italian hatch pulls the strings to your heart like no other.
My brother may need a hatchback in the coming months (I'm convincing him on a pre-worshipped luxo sedan though :)).[/quote]
GTO, what a coincidence? A friend of mine has zeroed in on Figo D Titanium. But for same 6.5 lakhs, he is getting a 63000 km 2007 Octavia Elegant D. He is in a dilemma. Brand new hatch or used but excellent condition sedan. Whatsay GTO?
I must say- this is by far one of THE best write ups i have seen here, unbiased and clearly based on facts
Punto is THE best product, no doubt overall, but for the support its getting from those who want to sell and support it.
BTW - is this the same for a petrol buyer, i mean for a person whose running is less than 1000 kms a month, buying a petrol makes sense and does the same comparison fit there? Is the figo petrol a better choice on the same parameters than the punto?
GTO: i guess you say that for both (reading your reviews), buying the diesel makes sense, but does it make sense to buy it when not going to run it that much? Also the service costs of a diesel are much higher than for a petrol, not to mention the initial buying cost
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The first time i saw this thread title i thought this needs to be moved to the what car section. Seeing it settle down in this section itself out of curiosity i just checked out why the mods are not sticking to the rules.!!
Seeing the report i know why. An excellent report. Very straight forward comparison. :)
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