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Getting home my 3rd Ford: My Figo ownership alongside two EcoSport SUVs

A sleeper on roads and a proper assassin when given the beans. Can give cars 4 times their price a run for its money!

BHPian jithin23 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Hey BHPians, it has been an eventful year for me with a lot of waves going up and down and again up in my life, that's why I could not post much about my other 2 Fords at home (EcoSport Diesel). However, life had a very interesting turn during the month of September 2023, a car I had zeroed in on back in 2021 and I unexpectedly picked this car up from another town within 24 hours! I think this might be the only ownership thread about this gem of a car on the planet after Giri's thread on the same car. His treasure trove of a thread. I'll keep my story and review as short and crisp as possible.

A heads up on the Figo 1.5 Dragon AT

What I Love:

  • Oodles of power right from the word go. Can smoke cars 3-5 times its price band. I have almost done a 180-degree sweep of the speedometer (I won't mention the speed though).
  • Very flickable in corners. Feels like a go-kart and stable at any speed!
  • Precise handling and steering control holds its line on corners (It's a Ford, so that's a given!)
  • Decent space for a family of 4
  • S mode gives a proper sports car feel. The character of the car changes completely.
  • Decently equipped and way ahead in terms of safety at that point in time (no other manufacturer gave ESP, HLA and TCS at that price point for an AT)
  • Surprisingly Fuel Efficient (I get 10-11 km/l in Bangalore city traffic and 14-16 on the highway if I drive in a sane manner).
  • A Reliable Torque Converter gearbox

What I loathe:

  • Headlights are pathetic! Desperately begs for an upgrade. Even could have integrated projector fogs
  • Speedometer misses out on 2 trip meters and looks too basic
  • Ford could have offered sync 3 on such a rare car (Anyway, I'll get one installed from a total Aspire/Freestyle)
  • 14" tyres do not do justice. 15" wheels are mandatory for this car (I've fixed this too)
  • Rear bottle holders and a central armrest could have been provided
  • Limited tuning potential as it is a NA engine(but stock performance is more than adequate for a quarter mile drag)
  • NVH could have been a bit better
  • For Heaven's sake they could have given a button on the boot door to open. The only way one can open is through the headlight switch or the keyfob.

This is the sixth Ford we currently have in the family (Present: 2x 2018 EcoSport Diesels, a 2016 Figo Diesel which is owned by my cousin and a lot has been mentioned about these two EcoSports in this forum. Past: The Ford Ikon Josh machine 1.3 and a Ford Escort 1.8 Diesel). People might call me crazy or insane for owning 3 cars of a defunct brand, but the merits do make me find ways to keep all 3 Fords healthy! The keys to these cars will answer the question of fence-sitters. Maybe someday I might pick a Ranger or an Everest or a Bronco.

The current triplets in my garage from the Ford Stable

Without further ado, let me get to the story of how the Shadow came home.

On Aug 30, one of our friends owned a Figo 1.5 Dragon AT in Bangalore and a close friend of mine was on the lookout for a performance AT within a budget. We drove this car in Bangalore traffic and we were amazed by the way this car putters around in town. The engine+ gearbox combo is what made this car so special! What's worse is only less than 1% of the population(including Ford Dealerships and Employees) knew that such a car existed in the market.

Exactly a week later, another close friend of mine had casually shared an ad of a Ford Figo 1.5 AT for the one who was going to buy this car and I too was looking at the pics and the engine specs on Ford Etis. We had the entire service history checked within half an hour in Bangalore FASS and Voila, records were clean with warranty up to May 2024. Then I requested a friend of mine in Chennai to test drive the car before we left for Chennai.

The next day morning at about 7 am we set off to Chennai in my friend's EcoSport all excited to bring the Figo home and suddenly a twist happened at Sriperumbudur toll. My Friend had to drop the plan of buying the car due to personal reasons and he looked a bit sad. I looked at his expression and immediately asked him are you sure you're dropping off the plan of buying this car and he was affirmative on his stand. The next moment I called up my folks at home and asked them can we pick up this car and the answer was an instant yes! Within no time I had arranged for a personal loan and arranged to take some amount from my savings. I knew this was such a rare car which is a collector's spec car(only 500-600 units were produced and this 1.5 Dragon AT torque converter spec was made only in 2019, the 2021 version came with a 1.2L NA engine) and that too black being my favourite colour and the icing on the cake was it was a Ford(that doo-doo-doo sound itself is enough for me to get sold on it when you open the door, that's how the first EcoSport came home), which made my decision an instant one. I did not even care if I was driving a TN-registered car in KA. Anyway, all my cars keep travelling frequently to Chennai and other parts of India, so other state registration isn't a concern. Moreover, this can used as a better car to roam around in town.

By the time we reached Chennai, I was trying to research the Figo 1.5 Dragon AT but only Giri's thread was available. Thanks a ton for sharing your experience with this Figo, else nobody in the country would have known such a gem existed! A couple of YouTube videos from South Africa are available on this car. However, the South African version was equipped with Sync 3 and cruise control in the Titanium version. Sadly, none of the Indian automotive media houses nor Ford's own staff knew that such a firecracker existed in the market. By 11 ish we headed to the seller's place in Nanganallur and in 15 mins we decided that this car was coming home to Bangalore. Though I was not quite happy with the way the seller dealt with us, we held our ground only because of the car. It was too good to let it go! I paid far less than what one would pay for an entry-level AMT hatchback(A shade above 5 Lakhs). The bank glitches made me wait another day before I could get the keys of the Shadow. The next day evening I took the keys of the Shadow and tanked up at the HP outlet near Chennai Airport.

Youtube Video reference

South African Brochure

The brochure for the 1.5 Dragon AT spec which was sold in India

Shame on Ford for failing to market such a gem of a machine! This was available in India at 9L on-road back in 2019.

First Glimpse of Shadow

On Sep 9, the Shadow reached my Bangalore house and initially, I was guilt-tripping because I had never bought a car this quickly in my life! After driving it more in the city and a bit of a spirited run, I realised that there's one life so why not enjoy this car to its maximum potential? September 9 is a very important day as that (Sep 9, 2005 or 06 I'm not sure but the date was Sep 9 for sure) was the day they launched the ladder on frame first gen Endeavour and Sep 9, 2021, was the day Ford announced that the Indian operations will be closed :(

Since the interior is almost identical to the other variants, I'll be sharing my perspective on the Figo Dragon AT. I'll anyway be attaching pics of my car.

A quick review of the Figo 1.5 Dragon AT

Engine

This engine is a straight bolt-on from the EcoSport and only about 500-600 units are present in the country with this spec in the Figo. I have driven the EcoSport AT and it feels very smooth and linear to drive. The same engine in the Figo feels too eager to be pushed to the redline and is a rev-happy engine. Surprisingly, if you drive this engine at higher speeds, the fuel economy is better. 123 Bhp and 150 Nm torque is quite good for a hatchback and second only to the Punto Abarth T-jet with 140 Bhp. The power is instantly felt and it's very smooth at all gears. Overall a well-calibrated engine. Had there been a turbo added onto this, this car would literally shatter records. The engine does 0-100 in under 10 seconds in stock form, which is impressive for a 3-cylinder. The only downside is the mild vibrations due to the inherent design of the engine. The aural bliss above 4000 rpm is music to the ears.

Usually, Torque Converters provide an average performance, but in this particular car, the gearbox behaves similar to a manual transmission. Quick shifts and smooth gear changes and you will feel exactly at which gear the car is at. Also, the car downshifts or upshifts exactly as per your throttle input. S mode changes the character of the car and it propels like a beast unleashed and zips through traffic in a whiff. However, there is a small delay whilst using the manual shifter while transitioning from S to manual control. The manual buttons are on the gear lever and the revs are held up to 6,000rpm without any intervention from the gearbox. Quite a reliable gearbox and the AT variants get a lifetime warranty on the transmission as far as I've heard from my sources.

Ride, Handling and NVH

The ride is neutral overall and a bit stiff at higher speeds. Handling is in another league with the 15" tyres and you can attack corners or weave through traffic like a knife slicing hot butter. By the time the other car can figure out which car passed by, you are way past them. Boot space is less than the other hatches on sale, but does the job

I am in talks with a few people in the Indian Automotive Media scene to give a review about this car and give it the recognition it deserves. I will share the video link once that is complete.

Tyres

I do not know what the previous owner did to this car, but this car hasn't been taken care of at all. There were hard water spots on the body and to top it off 3 out of 4 tyres had cuts which were on the sidewall and the previous owner was sheepishly smiling. Felt like giving him a piece of my mind and gave him at the end of the day. The tyres were shod with MRF ZV2K with a tyre profile of 185/60 R14 which looks like a tall guy wearing a small size shoe.

The next day I immediately placed an order for the Figo Blu's 15" wheels which look sexy in Black and will complement Shadow's character as the 14" is severely under-tyred and lifts off when you do a quick lane change. Each wheel costs about 9k for the Figo blu alloys and I wrapped them with Vredestein tyres with a tyre profile of 195/55 R15. I've driven about 3,500 kms in 2 months and I think the Vredestein tyres are average at best. The wet grip isn't great. Yokohama S-drive is a much better tyre suited for the character of this car.

While changing the tyre size of the car, please make sure that you’re changing the tyre size dimensions in the BCM using Forscan. It needs to be done in mm and multiplied by 0.968(this is the tolerance factor as mentioned in the Forscan forum). If the size isn't corrected, this can cause braking and gearshift quality to be slightly diluted.

Overall Feedback

A sleeper on roads and a proper assassin when given the beans. Can give cars 4 times their price a run for its money! I'm able to tell this confidently because I've driven a lot of cars in my friend's circle ranging from 3L to 1 Crore and this machine is seriously something else! But why Ford, not even a 1.5 Dragon badge which this car deserves. Had marketing and a bit more functional features been present, this car would have outsold the competition, that is the kind of potential this car carries. Safe, Fun to drive yet frugal on the wallet!

A few pictures of Shadow

What makes this particular Figo interesting is that it shares most of its mechanicals with the bigger brother (the EcoSport Dragon AT). That way, spares too aren't an issue. Moreover, Ford's service and support have been supportive for a very long time especially after they quit operations.

Current Mods

The mod I have added in my Figo is cruise control. The bezel and buttons are a direct fit from the global fiesta and the pre-facelift EcoSport(2013-17). It works like a charm on my highway drives and it's a DIY job. It does help in bumping up FE too. For the bezel to fit the Figo Triplets, you will need to file the lock of the bezel and then make it fit flush onto the existing steering wheel. All you need is forscan and the same method is applicable to activate the modules as the EcoSport.

I have also added sports pedals on the stock pedals. It's a straight fit from the EcoSport. I've added the OE rear spoiler too(will share the part number soon) Also another member from our group has added a sunglass holder and rear reading lamps in the Figo 1.2 AT. I Will ask him to share some more pics and in due course of time, I will share detailed steps on how to get this done in the Figo and EcoSport.

The accelerator pedal sits in flush. For the brake pedal, you need to remove the rubber pad and then fit the sports pedal. The same procedure can be followed for MT too with respect to brake and clutch.

Post-installation

If someone intends to pick one in the used market I'll give you a few tips on how to identify this car:

  1. This car was made only in 2019. If someone mentions any other year means it is a DCT or someone is trying to take you for a ride
  2. VIN: This particular batch of cars has the second last character ending with the letter 'K'. Can be found on the RC card or on the front left bottom corner of the Windshield. For Example: "MAJAXXMRKAKL*****" where K denotes the year and L denotes the month of manufacture.
  3. This car came with the honeycomb-type grill and NOT the Aston Martin-type grill
  4. A stock car will have 8 spoke 14" wheels, you can refer to the above pictures for identification. Attaching the image here
  5. This car came only in the Titanium variant with 2 airbags and a TCS button near the bottle holder in the centre console.

Do not worry too much about the state of registration as there are ways to use the car without re-registering. If celebrities can use PY or other cars on the road, so can we, the taxpayers do the same without any hesitation. Maintenance too is quite reasonable which costs about 4-5k Rupees at 10,000km intervals or 1 year.

My parting views: A car which is purely functional and will definitely put a smile on your face whenever you drive it around! It might not be a mobile phone on wheels unlike a few cars which boast bigger touchscreens and air purifiers or keep changing their design every 2 years, but it certainly delivers the utility of what a car is supposed to do in spades i.e Drive well without breaking the bank, your bones and keep you happy behind the wheel! Way better than the sea of AMTs and smaller capacity petrol. For those who are worried about Ford's future too, for the next 5-8 years, these cars can still run and be maintained at a Ford Service centre.

Moreover, this particular car has brought smiles to everyone who has driven this car, even MT owners have appreciated this car a lot. I've pitted this against the stock Polo GT too and this car is a proper competitor for the Polo and can outpace a stock Polo GT. This car has been so addictive that one of my friends sold his Celerio and picked up the same car from Kerala, though he lives in Bangalore. The exact statement after his wife drove the car was, "Wow, this car feels so smooth compared to the Celerio". We just brought that car home for Diwali on Sunday. All the back-end work was done like clockwork while we were getting this car for him!

His new steed is called Coral! Here's a pic of his steed

Had Ford Global leadership been a bit more patient and placed proper car guys(including yours truly ) in the leadership of Ford India, their products would have run circles around the competition. Way too advanced cars for its times within the reach of a common man. Even now, they aren't too late, they can shake the market as there are several million folks out there in our country who want a car only for its sheer driving pleasure and not gadgetry.

Lately, the car culture is catching up quite fast in India and the mods done on the cars and the supply chain for these mods can be classified as a separate industry of its own.

I will keep this thread updated as frequently as possible as this car is going to be a keeper and it is a literal sleeper on the roads. That sync 3 will soon be in the Figo. If possible, even paddle shifters might make their way onto this Figo. Plus, if anyone else owns this gem, please ping me. I would love to see your steeds. Till then, keep revving and a Happy Diwali.

Sometimes this bad kid is an outlaw too.

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