India is being thronged by sub 4-metre cars because the excise duty benefit is too lucrative to pass on the opportunity. This year is indeed the year of sub 4-metre vehicles with the Tata Zest, Ford Figo sedan and Hyundai Xcent all seeing their global unveil just prior to the 2014 Auto Expo. While compact sedans look like an after thought, Ford has successfully managed to work around that problem and the result is the Figo Concept. The design was led by Ehab Kaoud, who is Ford’s Chief Designer also responsible for the EcoSport. We spoke to him regarding the Figo Concept prior to the Auto Expo, here are a few pointers from our conversation with him.
On the biggest challenge when designing the Figo Concept – Fitting the car in the 4-metre bracket was the biggest challenge as simply chopping off the boot renders the vehicle out of proportion. Thus the idea was to chop a bit from the front and a bit from the rear. Not designing a sub 4-metre sedan from the onset can leave you with an awkward design as you are stuck with the height and every designer’s dream is to have a lower and wider vehicle.
On the design philosophy of the Figo sedan – The idea behind designing the Figo sedan was to come up with a vehicle which looked very spacious but having a small footprint on the outside. It’s a designer’s dream to have the wheels on the corner of the vehicle as that helps in boosting the perception of the centre area being large, thereby signifying a roomy cabin.
On the difference between Figo Concept and Ka – The Ka is the same as the Figo Concept but the sedan version which will be sold in global markets measures more than 4-metres in length as there isn’t any benefit for cutting it shorter than 4-meters.
On how close the Figo Concept is to production – Ford doesn’t do blue sky stuff anymore. What you see in the concept is very close to what the production version will look like. The idea of designing something out of the blue was prevalent around 10 years back but today Ford designs its concept with the vision of putting it into production soon, thereby preventing waste of time. The Figo sedan uses alloy wheels from the European spec Fiesta and is quite ready to hit production.
On the LEDs placed on the bumper and not headlights – The LEDs were placed on the headlights but for the concept, the company shifted it below. The production model will have fog lights below and not LEDs.
On the body part which takes the most time to design – The headlights take the most time to design as the detailing is crucial and guidelines have to be met. The headlights are the face of the car and take more time to design than the tail lights.
On how much aerodynamics plays a part in the design of a car – Aerodynamics play a vital role as most regulations are related to it. The Figo sedan was conceptualised as a vehicle which not only looks efficient but is efficient.
On the most striking feature of the Figo Concept – The line on the hood which extends to the A-pillar and gels beautifully to it is the most striking feature. This required Ehab to fight with the company as having such a design for the hood required added expense for the construction of the hood opening mechanism but the end result is a splendid design of the bonnet.
On the Aston Martin influence – Ford owned Aston Martin and having resemblance to the supercar lends a premium appeal to their cars. This is their family design language now and helps them maintain uniformity of design in their portfolio. Consistency in design is important as it reflects stability in the brand.
On the technologies on the Figo sedan – The Figo sedan will come with innovative technologies like a mobile docking system which can dock smart phones of all sizes, while also charging it and letting you use conveniently, as it comes in your line of sight.