FORD is updating a number of its models this year, of which the first given for Express on Wheels to put to the test is the new Ford Figo which has become a bit more grown-up with a bold new look outside and inside, a new turbo-charged engine and a more streamlined model range.
The Figo is now available in two body styles – the redesigned five-door hatchback is now joined by a new four-door sedan.
The vehicle test driven was the sedan version, which I think is less good looking than the hatch. I think buyers in this market will definitely be more interested in the look of the hatch model - which is a vast improvement on that of the previous Figo and looks more Fiesta-like than before – especially from the front angle.
The Figo is available in two spec levels, namely the entry level Ambiente and higher spec Trend.
Apart from the exterior makeover, the Figo also sports a new interior where Ford said they focused on improved quality, comfort and standard features. It is powered by a new 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine.
The hatch model with Trend specification is now also available with a new six-speed automatic transmission. The new Figo range doesn’t include the Titanium spec level, and there is no diesel model on offer this time around.
The cherry on top, however, is the four-year/60 000km service plan that is included in the purchase price as opposed to the original two-year/40 000km offering that was launched with the previous Figo. This definitely should grab the attention of buyers in a segment where affordability and value for money are among the most important determining factors.
The service plan covers the vehicle for up to four services over a period of four years – a unique offering in this class.
Its competitors in this segment include the Renault Sandero, Suzuki Swift, VW Vivo, Hyundai Grand i10, Toyota Aygo and Honda Brio.
The new Figo has an all-new bumper design with a restyled honeycomb grille which stretches almost all the way along the front. Among the changes are new chrome inserts for the headlamps as well as new dual-tone multi-spoke 14-inch alloy wheels for the Trend models, and updated wheel caps for the Ambiente versions which have 14-inch steel rims.
At the rear, the new Figo has undergone changes to the tail light clusters, along with an all-new rear bumper design.
All in all – the new look makes the Figo look more grown-up and sporty – and is a vast improvement on the boxy shape of the first hatch models that hit the roads in SA.
Among the interior updates is a cleaner design of the audio system as well as around the centre console and upper instrument panel.
There are also new fabric inserts on the door panels and a selection of new, more modern fabric for the seats.
The boot is also an adequate size, but the sedan’s lid was hard to close at times – and one has to give it a good thump to close it properly.
The seats are comfortable and the interior surprisingly spacious. Especially the rear leg- and headroom on the Figo is excellent for a small car.
The smartphone docking station on the top of the dashboard, Ford’s unique device dock, for connecting and powering your smart phone is also quite clever. One can plug the phone into the USB port provided, and then prop it up with the lid.
I, however, missed having controls for the audio system on the steering wheel – something which one finds on many entry level vehicles these days.
The entry-level Ambiente is available as a four-door sedan or five-door hatchback.
It is equipped with electric front windows with one-touch operation on the driver’s side, a factory-fitted immobiliser, electric power-assisted steering, tilt adjustment for the steering column and headlight level adjustment.
The built-in Ford Audio unit is standard with an integrated display and four speakers, offering Bluetooth connectivity, a USB slot and the device dock. Standard safety features include driver and passenger airbags, with ABS brakes and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD).
Additional features available on the Trend models, also available in sedan or hatchback, include remote central locking, a belt minder for driver and front passenger, power rear windows with child lock, rear window defroster, perimeter anti-theft alarm, and a gear-shift indicator for manual models (for better fuel efficiency).
Externally, the Trend is distinguished by the fitment of 14-inch alloy wheels, powered side mirrors, chromed grille, front fog lamps and full colour coding for the door handles and mirrors.
The Trend automatic is also equipped with Hill Launch Assist (HLA) which assists with smooth pull-offs on steep inclines.
One of the key new features of the Figo range is the all-new 1.5 TiVCT three-cylinder petrol engine that powers the entire line-up. This engine is credited with a maximum power output of 88kW and peak torque of 150Nm.
The manual derivatives have a standard five-speed transmission, and have an EcoMode with shift indicator that informs the driver of the ideal point to shift up or down a gear to reduce fuel consumption.
During my week of test driving, which was mainly on the urban commute in peak hour traffic, the fuel consumption achieved was 12km/litre (or 8,3 litres/100km)
The 1.5 engine is a very eager engine and accelerates well. The Figo’s steering is light and the handling was very responsive. The Figo handles road surface irregularities and speed bumps with aplomb and it felt solid around corners and at speed.
Figo 1.5 TiVCT Ambiente Hatch 5MT R181 300
Figo 1.5 TiVCT Trend Hatch 5MT R190 600
Figo 1.5 TiVCT Trend Hatch 6AT R205 700
Figo 1.5 TiVCT Ambiente Sedan 5MT R187 200
Figo 1.5 TiVCT Trend Sedan 5MT R196 000
All models come standard with Ford Protect, comprising a four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty, three-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty.
A four-year/60 000km service plan is included, with 15 000km service intervals.