I’m sitting here in my flat, just back from the office, pondering as to what the biggest flop in South African motoring has been since I was born. (Or rather that I can remember) Given that I haven’t even hit my mid-twenties there’s not much to think back on, none-the-less I do come across a few cars that have really put their manufacturers to shame.
The original Ford Focus sedan being one of them; a car that only dealership sales-people ever drove because no one else would buy one. Another that comes to mind is the last generation Toyota Camry. A good car no doubt but just not up to the competition in the end.
Top of the list however has to be the previous model Ford Ikon. I remember the launch quite clearly in fact, it was at the Durban Motor Show around 2001. And since then I think I’ve seen approximately two of these cars in my life – one of which happens to be parked in my parents driveway. This fact is something that has always baffled me. The original was literally a Fiesta with a boot and millions of people bought the Fiesta. Puzzling.
So the new one then…and I’ll put it quite plainly. This is a brilliant little car. I couldn’t find many faults which is impressive as I’m often considered overly critical, not only with cars I might add.
Let me start from the outside and work my way in. The Ikon is not going to win any modelling competitions, if there was such a thing for cars. It’s a cheap little B segment run about that hasn’t been penned by Pininfarina but probably Ken from accounting down the local Ford dealership – so you can’t expect much. That said, its modern(ish), sleek and unobtrusive, by no means ugly.
The interior is the most surprising part in my opinion. I’ve said of many cars that the quality of plastics is less than impressive. I may have even said that certain manufacturers seem to use re-recycled ice cream tubs. The Ikon has managed to avoid such cost cutting catastrophes and employ soft touch materials found in cars carrying twice the price tag of the Ford. The features list is pretty much what you expect from any and every manufacturer these days; such as CD player with the necessary iPod connections, trip computer, aircon, airbags, ABS etc.
Lastly there’s the way it goes. There are three engine options – namely 1.4, 1.6 and a 1.4 turbodiesel. I had the diesel. Now I’m not the biggest fan of small diesels I have to admit. I drove a friends 1.4 Polo TDI and thought it was average at best; and that’s me being kind. Which only lead to a further surprise from the Ikon. This engine is a little gem and just oozes torque in the middle of the rev band. There’s a short quick shift between gears and everything feels oh so smooth.
Better still is how solid the Ikon feels when you’re under way. When it comes to handling, you won’t be lighting up any go-kart tracks with its agility. But again it’s not exactly designed to do so. All you need to concern yourself with is that it feels solid on the highway, even if you’re doing a little more than the national speed limit, and it won’t fall over when you go around corners in town.
So after dishing out nothing but praise for Ford’s new Ikon, I’m going to let out a little secret about how they’ve managed to make such a cheap and cheerful little car. The Ikon hails from India, a horrid place for the motor vehicle, which means it’s built like the proverbial brick s..t house. The design team included people from the UK, Germany and Australia (not sure why the Aussies were involved in the process…I mean that’s like inviting George Bush to join MENSA) and lastly the engines are assembled by ze Germans. Seems no short measures were taken in putting this Ford on the road and it definitely shows.
Starting at R133 500 for the 1.4 petrol model, I don’t see this Ford as having any competition, which means it should be a hit in the B segment market. All that’s left for me to do is hope that the all new Ikon, becomes an icon.
Photo Credit: Quickpic