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FORD Ikon 1,6i CLX

Funky Ford

FORD Ikon 1,6i CLXOdometer reading: +- 5000km
Engine: 1594ccm "RoCam" in-line 4 cylinder fuel-injected petrol
70kW @ 5500rpm
137Nm @ 2500rpm
Max: 6100rpm
Average consumption: 6-7L/100km
Fuel Tank: 49L
List price: R95950

Standard Equipment:
Electric Windows
CD Frontloader & Audio System
Power Steering
Air Conditioner
Central Locking
Alarm System

As is tradition in my automotive reviews, I'll start off with a confession again. Better yet, an apology. Apologies to the driver of the white Citi Golf I cut off on Monday morning. I was still halfway in Lala-Land when he 'came out of nowhere'. My mistake. I did manage to avoid phone calls to our insurances by putting my foot down. Ah, the marvels of torque.

And that's a good intro to this 'new' little Ford I drove today. Motor manufacturers have long noticed a demand for drivable, economical and affordable cars, and that doesn't mean offering the public a metal shoebox with four wheels and a lawnmower engine. As with the Audi A4, kilowatts and horsepower figures aren't impressive on paper, but once at the wheel of the vehicle, the paperwork seems to take a backseat. Variable valve timing allowed Honda to make it's 7000rpm plus screamers more useable, and most people are following suit. Small engines, which churn out atmospheric crank revolutions, are now programmed to offer a wider spread of usable power. (see also, Corolla RXi review)

I don't mean to bore anyone here, but it is important for any new car review. What kilowatts (kW) and horsepower (hp) are to power and acceleration, Newtonmetres (Nm) are to pulling power, flexibility and drivability. All of this is in defense of the 1,6 Ikon's new engine, which may only offer 70kW, but has a healthy 137Nm of torque. On the road, this simply means that you don't have to torture your Ikon to get moving.

The little Ford, I'm sure, would also keep you out of trouble. It pulled firmly from a near standstill in second gear without any major fuss from the power plant or drive train. My short (but sweat) test-drive went through the busy streets of Stellenbosch at lunchtime, up my driveway (to the photo shoot) and all the way back through town again. Having once again been spoilt rotten by my automatic tranny, I naturally feared the embarrassment of driving a manual shift car in heavy traffic. The beautiful 'Berry'-red Ikon, however, had already anticipated this and was firmly on my side. Even the initial pull away was reasonably uneventful; the only mistake from my side might have been a little too keen of a right foot. I admitted to the salesperson that I found the Corollas and Conquest very easy to drive, but in hindsight that just made up in embarrassment what the Ikon prevented in the clutch department. Ford's little secret is right up there with the Toyotas when it comes to ease of use, as the salesperson rightly pointed out. The clutch is of the very forgiving type, and although brakes and accelerator initially feel a bit stiff, it only takes a few blocks for you to get used to Ikon's primary driving tools. The gearlever was handy and precise to slot around the gate, and much to my approval a Ford doesn't involve some press-shift-hold-bark-like-a-dog-exhale reverse gear tactic. Just move the lever and hey presto! - What could be simpler? I never got to fifth, but that's right above reverse and engaging it shouldn't involve more than a single movement of the arm.

Driving up Bird Street and shifting gears at around 2,5k revs, the Ikon happily motored along in traffic and even kept us cool with a very effective air-conditioner. It might not be important to some of our readers, but I consider power steering and air-conditioning essential. I couldn't fault the power steering if I tried; in fact, the vehicle steered and parked with an ease that just felt natural and perfect to me.

At one of the many intersections on my way back I gave the car in front of me some room and put my foot down. Even with the air conditioner on (the salesperson had to remind me of this!) the Ikon sprinted away firmly in first gear, reaching about 5000rpm in no time, with an evident willingness to go on. Look, it won't fry an M3, but given the specs you'd be surprised at its naughty nature once you're behind the wheel. The only 'true' report of the specs seems to be an impressive top speed of 185km/h. I don't need to remind anyone, that kind of speed could be your one-way ticket to jail!

But responsible city driving is what we're after here, right? Students don't do 185k's an hour. I hope.

I can't really remember hopping over the Bird-street-Dros speed bump, and that is most definitely a good thing. Neither can I remember any rattles or shakes from the car or through the steering wheel.

The driving position is spot on, although the steering wheel has no telescopic adjustment. I can attest to my utter comfort behind the wheel though, and that's all 1,94m of me. Thinking back, I realise that I got in and drove off straight away, even though a 'normal' size man had driven the car previously. So rest assured, you don't need telescopic steering in the Ikon, the comfy front seats move in all the desired directions, and I found the steering wheel delightfully small and easy to grip and turn.

While taking the above picture of the vehicle's dashboard from the back seat, I realised that I still had about 3-4 cm room between my head and the ceiling while comfortably seated with sufficient legroom. I won't mention any names, but certain midsize German luxury cars have me tilting my head sideways in the back seat. Fair enough, 3 of me would crowd the Ikon's second row, but the Ikon offers surprisingly vast amounts of room in its cabin. The salesperson was quick to open the boot of his berry red Ikon, and much to my surprise it offered similar dimensions to the boot of bigger models. It won't swallow a double kitchen sink, but two people could easily pack a large suitcase each and still have room for more.

More pictures were taken and I took a particular liking to the Ford's cheeky magwheels. The 7 spoke alloys fit the car well, contrasting this superb red colour brilliantly. (OK, I admit it. I'm biased towards red cars)
The front of the car features fog lights, not that you'd need them very often, but they lend a sporting and youthful look to the Ikon's face.

Once we got to the office, I quickly gave the sound system a run-through. I didn't have any of my fav CD's handy, but a good radio reception was enough for me to quickly max out the bass and treble. Treble and midrange seemed adequate, while bass response was pretty impressive at normal volumes. The integrated frontloading CD/radio unit was easy to navigate and (thank Goodness) offers a clip-off part for increased security.
Lastly, I had a look under the hood, not that I understand what most of that stuff is.

My friend broke down on the way to Somerset-West earlier today, and he can attest to my being clueless when it comes to mechanics. The theory's there, just don't ask me to go into detail about any of it, let alone fix it! And thus I just looked at the little Ford's bare heart with distant admiration, something that isn't very common nowadays. A glance under my engine bay (or even the Webmaster's TD5 Land-Rover) will reward you with an impressive array of plastics covering nearly 90% of the story.

And that's basically it. I thoroughly enjoyed myself on this short and sweat trip through town, and can only recommend it to anyone shopping between the entry level and upper midsize saloon market. The Ford Ikon in 1,6CLX guise is a worthy contender to whatever Fritz und Hans have thought up, and the only complaint I could come up with is that the doors sounded a bit flimsy when closed. However, if you want the metaphorical safe-door 'thud', you'll have to aim your sights at 7 series Beemers and the like. And let's not go into Tata-My-Money territory...

For:
Funky looking, spiffy little automobile
Quite roomy
Fuel consumption & torque
Standard equipment & optional extras list

Against:
"Only" 70kW
Doors sound flimsy
New model's resale value hasn't been properly determined yet

Stellenbosch.co.za wishes to thank Novel Ford for providing us with the cute little Ikon. For contact information phone 021 887 2822 to arrange a test drive today!

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