The unfortunate thing about the launch last week of the new Ford Figo, was that it came only days before one of the most anticipated launches for 2015 — that of the all-new Ford Mustang. So while Ford representatives delivered an enthusiastic business presentation for what is actually an important vehicle in their lineup, I found my thoughts were already turning to the scenic pleasures of the Western Cape — and the iconic Mustang! But bringing me back to the “here-and- now” was Ford’s general marketing manager, Tracey Delate, who reminded those gathered that a compact car “doesn’t mean sacrificing quality, design or features”. And this is completely accurate when it comes to the Figo. The most significant change to the Figo lineup — besides its new styling — is that the model range has grown from three to nine vehicles including, for the first time, a sedan.
The engine lineup has also been expanded to include a diesel powerplant and — depending on the model — there’s also a choice of a five-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed auto. Trim levels remain the same: Ambiente, Trend and Titanium. The Figo, which falls into the unusually labelled sub-B compact segment, has upped its game to take on the likes of the Volkswagen Polo, Renault Sandero, Toyota Etios and Honda Brio. With the latest changes, Ford might just have the ammo to do so. The model’s new look is definitely a lot sharper and taps into what the brand has labelled its “kinetic 2.0 design”. And that’s a pretty flowery term which basically means various design aspects you see in vehicles such as the popular Focus and Fusion have filtered down to the Figo.
So now you have a car — particularly with the hatch — that looks more modern and will likely attract the attention of a younger generation of buyers. Unfortunately, though, the styling of the sedan is a bit of a mixed bag. Front-on it has the distinctive Ford look with the trapezoidal grille and elongated headlamps. But view it from the rear, and that box shape simply reminds me of the Ikon’s outdated styling. All is not lost though: the sedan does have one distinct advantage over the hatch — space. You score both in the cabin and in the boot. The designers have found an impressive 445l in the boot, compared with the 256l in the hatch, and because the sedan is longer, there is more interior space. At the launch last week, I had the opportunity of getting behind the wheel of the entry-level 1.5 Ambiente sedan with a petrol engine and manual gearbox, and then the 1.5 Trend hatch with a diesel powerplant (74kW) and the same manual box. First up, the sedan. The 1.5-litre engine pushes out an impressive 82kW and 136Nm and, whether you find yourself in urban traffic or out on the open road, performance is more than adequate.
Although this is the entry-level vehicle in the sedan range, it is nonetheless quite well specced. An impressive number of storage spaces are provided, and the dashboard is, thankfully, less cluttered than some other vehicles in the Ford stable. Features such as air-conditioning, USB, Bluetooth, CD/MP3 player, airbags and ABS are standard, but I must admit that I longed for electric windows. Later in the day, it was the turn of the Trend hatch. And for me, it was this vehicle that won the day. Obviously, being a step up from the Ambiente, it had a lot more standard features, but the diesel powerplant still managed to impress.
Minimal noise creeping into the cabin and plenty of torque provided for a pleasant ride. Then there is the aspect of fuel consumption. Ford claims a combined figure of 4.9l/100km — and we got pretty close to that during our drive in the Hartbeespoort Dam region. The ride in the hatch just felt that little bit more fun — perhaps one could put that down to the higher tech levels, or that the hatch is aimed at a younger audience. Either way, it is a vehicle that looks set to do well in an increasingly competitive market.
Pricing for the hatchbacks: 1.5 Ambiente, R158 900; Trend, R167 900; Titanium, R181 900; Titanium Auto, R203 900; Ambiente TDCi, R189 900; Trend TDCi, R199 900.
Pricing for the sedans: 1.5 Ambiente, R160 900; Trend, R169 900; Titanium Auto, R205 900.