WHEN the first Ford Figo came out in SA, I liked the performance and features of the car, but it lacked that certain “je ne sais quoi” that its competitors, such as the Chevrolet Spark, had as far as exterior looks went. Which is strange, considering how good Ford’s Fiesta and Focus feature in the design stakes.Ford has, however, redeemed itself with its relaunch in mid-October last year of the Figo – offering it for the first time in hatch and sedan versions. And in my opinion the dynamic, sporty-looking hatch version is a vast improvement on the first model, while the sedan version could still do with a little more oomph.The new Figo is available in three specification levels, i.e the Ambiente, Trend and highest spec Titanium. One has the choice between 1.5-litre petrol and diesel engines, as well as manual and PowerShift Auto transmission options.Express on Wheels recently took two of the new Ford Figo models on the mom’s taxi route for a week – the Ford Figo Sedan 1.5 litre petrol PowerShift (Auto) transmission in the high spec Titanium version (retailing at R209 900) and the diesel hatchback with manual transmission, the 1.5 TDCi Trend (retailing at R203 900).ExteriorWith the all-new Ford Figo, the designers incorporated Ford’s Kinetic 2.0 design language, as seen in the likes of the latest Ford Fusion and Focus. The five-door hatch incorporates a rising roofline with a sporty spoiler and good looking tailgate with a dynamic looking design. The sedan version has a more conservative styling and is more rounded at the back for a bigger boot.InteriorThe interior is also completely new and boasts some innovative smart features, which (depending on model) include a new device-docking station, Bluetooth with Voice Activation, the programmable MyKey® function, as well as electronic automatic temperature control.The all-new Figo has 20 smart storage spaces and convenience features which include a large glove box that is big enough to fit a laptop.The Sedan offers up to 445 litres of luggage space in the boot with fold-down rear seats increasing its loading capacity and versatility. The seat-backs of the all-new Hatch (Trend and Titanium) have a 60/40 split for greater flexibility.Smart technologyThe all-new Figo features impressive smart technologies that help people to integrate their car into their digital lives.MyFord Dock® is a first-in-class feature and standard in the Ambiente and Trend spec vehicles. This allows mobile phones, MP3 players and satellite navigation systems to be mounted and charged and to be integrated into the car’s entertainment system. Ford’s SYNC® integrated multimedia and connectivity system is standard equipment in the top of the range Figo Titanium. SYNC® lets drivers interact hands-free with their mobile devices and entertainment system with voice commands.On the Ambiente and Trend models, a standard four-speaker audio system is provided that includes a radio/CD unit with MP3-compatibility, Bluetooth connectivity, as well as USB and Aux inputs. The Titanium further gains remote audio controls on the steering wheel.The all-new Figo Titanium also features Ford’s MyKey® with which owners can set sensible restrictions for drivers with less experience.SafetyIt features a minimum of dual front airbags on the lower spec models, while the Titanium version has six airbags – including side and curtain airbags. There are ABS brakes across the range, plus Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) with Hill Launch Assist on the top derivatives. This holds the vehicle for up to three seconds as the driver’s foot moves from the brake to the accelerator.The test drives:Figo 1.5 litre petrol PowerShift Titanium SedanThis is the highest spec petrol version of the all-new Figo featuring an auto transmission and retailing at R203 900.The sedan’s exterior is a bit too conservatively styled to my taste and doesn’t look as attractive as the new hatch model – but sedans are by nature probably supposed to look more practical than sporty. And the practicability of its big boot space makes up for this. The interior boasts bits and pieces from the Fiesta and other Ford models and is quite roomy with ample legroom. It is a basic car but has handy gadgets such as Ford Sync, steering wheel controls and USB ports, electric windows and nice storage spaces.The automatic transmission is a bonus for me. While you will always have a bit of a problem with a heavy foot on the accelerator when you are driving a car with a smallish engine coupled to an automatic transmission, the Figo’s advanced 6-speed PowerShift Auto transmission is quite capable and willing. One soon learns how to gently increase the pressure on the accelerator so as not to struggle to speed up quickly when overtaking. And once it gets going on the open road, it goes quite well. It pulls nicely and this 1.5 engine delivers more than enough power. The transmission has a sport mode as well.The Electronic Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) provides lighter steering effort at low speeds – for parking and in-city manoeuvring – and a heavier, more precise feel at high speeds for greater stability and confidence on highways.The 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine generates 77kW of power, matched to 138Nm of torque and its combined cycle fuel consumption is stated as 5.6L/100km.Test drive of the Figo 1.5 TDCi Trend hatch The diesel models are powered by a 1.5-litre Duratorq TDCi engine that develops 74kW and 215Nm with the average fuel consumption stated as 4.1L/100km. It has a five-speed manual gearbox.I liked the new hatch shape with its sporty look and while you will not often equate a sporty looking car with a diesel engine, this engine performs very well with impressive fuel consumption figures.The diesel engine is a bit loud when starting the car, but once it gets going and out on the open road the engine sound is hardly noticeable.The new instrument cluster design is an improvement on the old look. The hatch offers very adequate boot space and the number and placement of storage compartments is quite nifty.Prices:The prices for the hatch models range from R169 600 to R207 900, while the sedan models’ prices range from R172 900 to R209 900.