Is Ford’s newest offering – the Figo 1.5 a good buy? That’s the question I have to ask after spending some time with the flagship of the range, the petrol-engined Titanium with Powershift transmission.
Brian Joss – It has a lot going for it but there are some negatives. The price for one, and two, the six-speed automatic transmission in the test car wasn’t up to Ford’s usual high standards: there was a lot of hunting between the gears which proved to be highly irritating. There is a Standard drive mode and a Sport mode as well as a manual shift selector, two small buttons on the gear lever, which are awkward to use. Without getting technical about it, when you press down on the throttle, upshifts take too long to get the motor going, which is very frustrating, especially in heavy traffic when you suddenly have a burst of acceleration and have to hurriedly hit the brakes.
Unlike the earlier Figo, which was basically a recycled Fiesta, this Figo is all-new and the styling is derived from Ford’s Kinetic 2.0 design language and for the first time it is being offered as a sedan. It gets an A for use of space, especially in front. At the rear there’s enough room for two adults, legroom aplenty, and enough headspace, though three would be a bit of a squeeze. The build quality is good and there were no annoying rattles or squeaks on the test car. And the kinetic blue colour made it stand out in the crowded parking lot at the mall.
Ford is marketing the Figo as a sub-B compact car and though the Titanium has all the bells and whistles I think R200 000+ is a bit off-putting.
So let’s see what the Figo offers. It is a stylish looking car with the trapezoidal grille reminiscent of the Aston Martin’s. It is also packed with technology. The Titanium is fitted with Sync®, Ford’s advanced in-car connectivity system, as standard and it allows drivers to interact with their mobile devices and entertainment system through voice commands and you can keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. It’s is also easy to use.
The Titanium features Ford’s MyKey® so you can set restrictions for drivers with less experience.That means those who’ve just got their driving licences. You can programme in a maximum speed limit or a seatbelt reminder that silences the the audio system volume until the front seat occupants fasten their seat belts. The Figo has a perimeter alarm, which, will sound if you try to break in, the headlamps will flash and activate a theft indicator on the instrument panel. There are numerous storage spaces inside, 20 of them, including a hidey-hole built in to the driver’s side of the dashboard to stow small items, which you can access only when the driver’s door is open. The glove box, Ford says, is big enough for a laptop, the ubiquitous cup holders haven’t been forgotten, three in the front, and a bin for rear seat passengers at the back of the central console. There is up to 445 litres of space which is more than ample for holiday luggage (or the monthly shop) and it boasts a 60/40 split, to give you more load space if you need it. The aircon system, with automatic climate control, works well. The comprehensive instrument cluster is neat and the dials are easy to read.
Like all Fords the handling is good. The electrically assisted power steering is light and direct. The Figo feels solid on the road and body lean while cornering is negligible and certainly no cause for concern. Ride quality is impressive. It sucks up road imperfections like a Hoover, and there is more than enough power to overtake when you need to. However, in my opinion there was quite a lot of wind and road noise. The four-cylinder petrol engine puts out 82kW with 136Nm of torque and Ford claims a combined cycle fuel consumption of 5.6 litres/100km. But that is only in perfect driving conditions which you’re unlikely to find in the daily commute which includes traffic jams and stop-start driving, among them. My figures were closer to 7.5 litres /100km on the test route which included some country driving, lots of hills and peak hour traffic. Talk about city driving, the EPAS, (the Electronic Power Assisted Steering), makes parking easy and you can manoeuvre into small spaces without much difficulty.
Ford hasn’t forgotten about safety. The Titanium features six airbags, ABS brakes, Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with Hill Launch Assist.
Oh, and if you’re wondering, Figo is cool in Italian.
Summing up: the 1.5 Figo Titanium with PowerShift is a neat looking vehicle; it does good service on the open road and you can use it quite happily as mom’s taxi but the automatic has its quirks. I also think the R200 900 price tag is a bit much. So is it a good buy? Sometimes you have to let your head rule your heart. And of course take your budget into account. So if I were in the market for new wheels, I would think twice about the Figo, even though despite the niggling transmission on the test car, it is on balance, a perfectly good vehicle.
The Titanium comes with a four-year/120 000 km comprehensive warranty, two-year/40 000 km service plan, three-year/unlimited km roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. Service intervals are every 20 000 km.