Ford's Australian-designed and engineered Figo, developed for the growing Indian market, has just won the subcontinent's coveted Car of the Year (ICOTY) for 2011.
Beating out international favourites such as the runner-up Volkswagen Polo and the third-place Skoda Yeti, the Figo was chosen from a field of finalists that also included the new Nissan Micra and the Volkswagen Vento - a sedan version of the new Polo.
Developed by Ford's Australia operations to give the company a cheap but proven competitor in India, the Figo is essentially a facelifted and massively upgraded version of the previous generation Fiesta, sold here until 2008.
Although the Figo was designed and engineered locally, production is handled by Ford's assembly plant in Chennai, India. Versions of the Figo are also exported to South Africa, and will soon go on sale in Nepal also.
Driving the diminutive Figo is a pair of engines, the first an all-new 52kW 1.2 litre petrol, and the second is the same 51kW 1.4 litre Duratorq diesel driving the new Fiesta in some overseas markets. (Australia's Fiesta gets a 66kW 1.6 litre version of the same engine).
The success of the Figo in India - where 60,000 Figo cars have been sold since March - comes at a time when ultra-affordable 'sub-light' models are picking up consumer interest in Australia.
Suzuki's tiny and efficient Alto hatch kicked the category off when it arrived in July last year, selling nearly 4000 cars in the time since. The Alto has since been joined by Holden's all-new Barina Spark and Nissan's latest Micra offering.
Speaking with TMR today, Ford Australia's Neil McDonald could not confirm local plans for the Figo, but conceded that it remains on the company's radar.
"It's on our radar and we're keenly aware of what our competitors are doing in the 'ultra-light' class, particularly given that the sub-$12,000 to $13,000 segment now seems to have ignited interest in Australia," Mr McDonald said.
Mr McDonald said that its previous-generation Fiesta platform makes the Figo an appealing prospect on the space and practicality front, adding that, for now, the Figo's potential in Australia is a "watch this space" situation.