BRIAN BASSETT drives the new Ford Figo 1.5l TDCI Hatchback Trend in the Western Cape.
RECENTLY, I spent a week in the Western Cape, both in central Cape Town and in the Hermanus area.
To facilitate my travels I was offered the opportunity to drive the recently introduced Ford Figo diesel by the Cape Town-based Ford media fleet.
The second generation Figo was introduced in 2015 and is available in both petrol and diesel format. The car, which comes in hatchback and sedan designs, has three specification levels, namely Ambiente, Trend and Titanium, with the Titanium spec being available with a six-speed auto box matched to a 1,5 litre petrol engine.
The new Figo is made in India and Brazil, where it is badged as the Ford Ka. I looked forward to my week with the new Figo with interest, as it replaces a car that has been with us for a long time and has a considerable reputation for reliability and durability and, which will be on the forecourts of many second-hand car dealers for quite a while to come.
The new Figo also represents Ford’s desire to build on the success of its first sub-B compact car in a very competitive market segment at a difficult economic time.
The Figo uses Ford’s Kinetic 2.0 design language, seen in both Focus and Fusion. The front end has a trapezoidal grill, inspired by Aston Martin and flanked by elongated headlights, which are swept back in aerodynamic fashion. There is also a black grill below the colour-coded bumper flanked by fog lamps. The bonnet is raked and the roof rises easily to a rear spoiler in the hatch and merges seamlessly into the tail to create an overall premium design. The car comes with 14-inch alloys, which completes the premium design experience.
The new Figo has a wheelbase of 2,491 mm, making it one of the most spacious cars in its league. The interior is finished in good quality black plastics and the seats are covered robustly in light grey and patterned black fabric, which creates a pleasant, light interior.
The driver’s seat is manually adjustable six ways and the steering column can also be adjusted, so you should have no trouble in finding the right driving position for yourself.
The three-spoke steering wheel is pleasant to handle and the analogue dials are directly in front of the driver, allowing absolute concentration on the road. Controls for the front and rear electrically operated windows and colour-coded side mirrors are on a panel on the driver’s door, from which the car doors can also be locked.
All controls are easy to reach and operate.
There are over 20 storage spaces in the car, most conveniently placed for easy access. In the new Figo I also found a car that is as comfortable in both head and legroom terms at the back, as at the front. Four adults will sit comfortably in the car, irrespective of distance travelled.
The Figo comes with electronic temperature control, Bluetooth connectivity, a four-speaker CD/USB/ AUX audio system and plugs for your electronic toys.
The boot provides 257 litres of luggage space with the rear seats in place and 445 litres with the rear seats folded down in 60/40 fashion.
Safety and security
The 1.5l TDCI Trend has dual front driver and passenger air bags, ABS with EBD, remote central locking, a perimeter anti-theft alarm and child locks, as well as engine immobiliser.
Performance and handling
The Figo’s 4-cylinder, 1, 5 litre, turbocharged diesel engine delivers 74 kWs/215 Nm via a smooth fivespeed manual gearbox.
The torque available makes the car easy to drive on national roads and passing long trucks is easy. Acceleration to 100 km/h takes 11,4 seconds, but 80 to 120 km/h in fourth gear takes only 8,5 seconds. Fuel consumption is around five litres per 100 km, but drive slowly and that comes down.
I took the car from Hermanus to Caledon, a distance of around 40 km each way. The road winds through beautiful Cape countryside with very little traffic and includes the crossing of Shaw’s Pass, which is quite steep and winding in places. I know the road well and use it about twice a year, so I let the car have its head and found that it stuck to the road like a leech.
Cornering at speed is no problem and the car responded to acceleration with a throaty roar so common in small diesels. On the open road I loved the car, but all good things come to an end and I found myself in the centre of Cape Town, which at least provides one with a good view of Table Mountain when stuck in Adderley Street traffic.
The Figo, however, is also an ideal town car. Agile, manoeuvrable, easy to park, pleasant and relaxed to drive with great engine flexibility between the gears.
Costs and the competition
The Ford Figo TDCI 1.5l Trend will cost you around R205 000, which includes a four-year or 120 000 km warranty, a two-year or 40 000 km service plan, as well as a five-year anti-corrosion warranty and three-year roadside assistance service.
This area of the marketplace is crowded with competition from VW, Toyota, Renault and Suzuki, Honda and Tata, to name a few. So shop around and negotiate a deal. In these difficult economic times it’s a buyer’s market.
The Figo 1,5 turbo diesel delivered an astonishing 3,9l/100 km with hasty driving between Cape Town and Hermanus.
Wearing size 12 shoes normally means a struggle to get into the rear of smaller cars, but the Figo proved very comfortable.