The new model launched late last year is decidedly slicker, sleeker, bigger and bolder than its rather utilitarian predecessor which was really just a resurrected old Fiesta, but an affordable and hardy little car all the same.
Incidentally, I'm all for this business of resurrecting old models for the South African market, a trend that was started by VW with the CitiGolf back in the Eighties, and which we still see with vehicles such as the VW Polo Vivo and the Toyota Corolla Quest. Both worthy machines that make up what they lose on driver involvement with excellent value and robustness. And let it not be forgotten that a large chunk - quite the possibility the majority - of the motoring public seeks not sharp styling and on-the-edge handling and adrenaline surges, but a machine that goes and stops in a regular, reliable manner.
Now I've just spent a week with the top-range Figo - a 1.5 Titanium PowerShift Auto Sedan, with the vehicle now being available in four-door guise as well as a hatchback, as before. It's an attractive machine, even if its small 14-inch alloys do look a little shopping-trolley like. But perhaps the best news is that it comes with a proper six-speed automatic gearbox. Not a CVT transmission, which is what so many manufacturers are fitting - presumably for cost reasons - to their smaller vehicles. In the process often ruining them, and I think of the likes of the Nissan Sentra and Honda Ballade, which are worthy machines but not when equipped with droning CVT gearboxes.
Powering the whole show is a normally aspirated 1.5-litre petrol unit (the previous model used a 1.4). It's a perfectly adequate motor with 82kW on tap. Not much by today's standard, but that's what the early Golf GTI's were making in the days of yore. Torque is 136Nm at 4,250rpm, and the Figo will move from rest to 100km/h in an adequate 12 seconds, with a top speed of 175km/h. Claimed fuel consumption is six litres per 100km, but good luck with achieving that.
To make satisfactory progress in this machine you need to drive it hard, and it really cries out for Ford's brilliant, award-winning little turbopetrol EcoBoost motor. But for complex reasons that were explained to me by Ford, it's not getting it. Not anytime soon anyway.
Equipment levels are pretty good, and this top-spec Figo gets the likes of climate control specifically developed for hot climates, and lashings of stowage space including plenty of cupholders, and a cubbyhole big enough to swallow a laptop. It will also swallow up to 445 litres of luggage, while the rear sears fold 60:40.
Plus you get good in-car connectivity, allowing you to interact with mobile devices and the entertainment system via voice commands. But some studies have shown that, hands free or not, driver attention is severely impacted by focusing on phones.
Safety is taken care of by six airbags, and this halo model also gets an Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), plus Hill Launch Assist.
Yours for R209,900. That includes a four-year/120,000km warranty, and a two-year/40,000km service plan. A worthy enough little Ford, this - even if it has kind of lost its price advantage.