It was also the era of the warm hatch, when naturally aspirated was the norm and cars like the Ford Lazer were well regarded as affordable pocket rockets, when engines revved cleanly and our expectations from a performance car was low.
This is not a performance car. This is a Ford Figo, but its 1.5-litre engine takes me back to the days when a buzzy Ford hatch was "never gonna give you up." But first, we should talk about the looks of the thing.
The visual appeal
I respect the Figo for not trying too hard. Despite its traditional engine arrangements there's no retro pastiches to observe. I also appreciate that unlike VW's strategy with the Polo Vivo, the Figo no longer simply resembles last year's Fiesta, but now gets its own distinct identity, indeed an all new skin. The result is okay - a non-offensive B Segment hatchling that has a couple of decent angles.
Clamber aboard the good ship Figo however and it's a much more accomplished affair, an honest but feature laden cabin with great surfaces and controls, plus a fair share of mod-cons and connectivity options. The entire range can be had between R191,300 and R224,200 – all with the same great three-cylinder engine – capable of 88kW and 150Nm.
Far from Ford Lazer! Best in class? Maybe...
But our Figo of choice is the range topper, the 1.5 Titanium MT hatch and that means it comes standard with a 6.5-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth handsfree phone connectivity, voice control, helm mounted audio controls, two USB ports with iPod functionality all via Ford SYNC 3. You also get automatic headlamp activation, rain sensing wipers and a rear-view camera. Then there’s the raft of safety features including driver, passenger, side and curtain airbags.
How does it go?
Well, grab a gear, drop a clutch and you’ll find out as I did that the answer is quite well. That is if you like your driving experiences to be fairly analogue.
Ford claims a zero to hundred of 11.8 seconds, however I managed to get it under eleven quite often, but it’s the in-gear acceleration (for overtaking) that impressed me the most. I don’t have data to support this, just the sensation of having more than enough torque in reserve for making the manoeuvres I needed to, and with a decent amount of thrumming from the front and a rorty bark from the pipe at the rear.
Sure, it will top out at a humble 175kph but its burn rate is at a low of 132g/km of carbons and the fuel consumption is enviable at just 5.7l/100km. But not if you drive it like I have, obviously. Stick it fast into a corner and its firmly (enough) poised with a flavourful helm, making it easy to seek out apexes.
I need to amend that old saying, “nothing revs like a rental” because it should really say “nothing revs like an underpowered car”, and I’ll add to that “nothing handles like one either”, with the Figo being infinitely chuckable – a truly engaging and rewarding little hand grenade – equally handy on a fun, twisty road as it is hard charging the right lane of the highway, if not more so.
And that’s that!
To recap, the Ford Figo is an entry level B Segment tyke that plays in the cheaper air below the Fiesta, similar to what the Vivo is to the Polo and the Sandero is to the Clio. It loves (loves!) to rev its 1.5l petrol engine, and I'm not shy either - so we got along well indeed.
Again, that’s one point five litres across three cylinders – 75% of a hot hatch engine from two decades ago. But that isn’t why you buy a Figo is it? You buy it because its affordable, economical and practical. And it is all those things too. Good little car, this.
Ford Figo Hatch 1.5 Titanium Manual Spec:
|Engine ||1.5l inline 3-cyl|
|Gearbox ||5-speed Manual|
|Driven Wheels ||Front|
|Top Speed ||175kph|
|Average Fuel Consumption ||5.7l/100km|