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NOVELSPORT Ford Ikon 1.6i CLX

Potent and fun

NOVELSPORT Ford Ikon 1.6i CLXEngine: unknown, 96kW (standard: 70kW)

0-100km/h: 8-9 seconds
top speed: unknown

I really don't know what to type. I'm speechless. The berry red Ford Ikon we tested a few months ago was cute, reasonably zippy and very driveable. The NOVELSPORT Ikon is a completely different ballgame...

Our local Ford dealer, Novel, has come up with a more powerful version of the Ikon, and dubbed it the NOVELSPORT Ikon. Precisely what they've done to the car's engine, we don't know.
The exterior is no mystery though, this Ikon was fitted with TSW mag wheels and Yokohama low profile tyres of 195/45/15 proportions, while the exhaust pipe was definately not standard!

It starts up pretty normal, I reversed out of the parking lot and pulled into traffic. It drives just like the standard Ikon, it sounds a little rougher but never becomes intrusive or loud. A few blocks later the road opened up and I gave her the spurs. Having floored the accelerator at about 2000rpm in second gear, the exhaust produced a low grumble and the car started accellerating strongly. A few seconds later I changed up and eased off again. Something that has already annoyed me in the Mercedes M-Class seems to riddle some Ford products as well - the tachometer has no red zone.
Not wanting to find it by means of the rev limiter, I accellerated away from the last traffic light out of Stellenbosch on the R44, and changed up at 6000rpm in first and second gear. In first gear the car accellerates like the proverbial bullet from a gun, the front wheels just-just chirping on takeoff. I had to change into second quickly, as the tachometer needle climbs at an alarmingly fast rate in first, and only slightly slower in second. Once you're in third, performance drops a little more, but still pushes you into the seat nicely. The engine and exhaust note becomes louder with accelleration, but not in the "Fast and Furious" deafening way - it's actually quite pleasant and shouldn't become bothersome over time.

I didn't brave any more full throttle after third gear, except for a full-throttle run in 5th from 90km/h. The exhaust starts grumbling again, the car slowly starts accellerating and picks up momentum. Oh, perhaps I should mention that at this point WE WERE GOING UPHILL. Yes, this little Ikon will accellerate uphill, from 90km/h in fifth gear with two adults and camera equipment in the car. Simply amazing!!
Although fifth was probably meant for cruising, you could actually overtake in it! Drop her into fourth and the car obviously becomes more responsive.

Once I had turned around, we headed back to Stellenbosch at a semi-fast pace (for lack of a decent term). Sticking to 90km/h I tried 4th and 3rd gear, and found that no matter how steep the incline the NOVELSPORT Ikon will gladly sprint away from traffic at your command.

The wider wheels and rims do the car good in the handling department, and braking is also a tad better than the standard Ikon. The brakes were next to be tested, and although they do the job pretty well, the lack of ABS did produce a near-lockup. As for the steering, it somehow felt meatier and tighter than the standard Ikon - thanks to the wider track and rubber in front. Power steering helps you to park, so I think this was definately a change for the better.
Ride quality and comfort are only slightly compromised by the low profile pneus, with only a few bumps coming through the suspension, but never becoming uncomfortable or rough.
The car stays true to its line in corners, and although we couldn't throw it around a track, the cornering we did was controlled and effortless. There's a bit of initial body roll, but then the car hugs the corner nicely.

Back in town, I dropped her to 5th gear at 50km/h and accellerated. Surprisingly, the car doesn't jerk, moan or groan, but ever-so-slowly starts to pick up speed. Pulling away in second gear is no problem at all, even with the airconditioning going, and I would actually advise it. First gear is so short that you'll find yourself shifting sooner than you'd like, and the slightest movement of the accellerator prompts the car to lurch forward. So, if you're rolling along with traffic through the busy Stellenbosch streets, stick to second and let the motor pull you through. Once you're going again, drop her to 3rd, then 4th and just tip the throttle to zip along with ease.
Whatever the clever NOVEL boys have done to this Ikon, it hasn't compromised the ride, driveability or easy use of the standard Ikon. The day-to-day city commuting would actually be more enjoyable in the NOVELSPORT version, as the car is well behaved and pulls firmly and solidly in ANY gear, from about 1200rpm. One can feel the torque pick up just under 2000rpm, but you can't feel it drop that much as the Ikon accellerates too fast!

If I owned an Ikon, would I give my Ikon the NOVELSPORT treatment? HELL YEAH!! I mean, yes, of course.
The ride becomes a little stiffer, but the wheel size and dimension could probably be altered to your taste. The steering somehow improves, the roadholding benefits, and the performance skyrockets. I couldn't comment on longevity or reliability, but throughout the 12km drive the NOVELSPORT Ikon didn't backfire, misfire, stutter or jerk even once. It drives like a normal Ikon, which leads me to think that it should probably last just as long, provided you don't use its full potential ALL the time!

We don't have any performance figures handy, but the little NOVELSPORT Ikon should be able to embarress a few bigger boys on the block. Should your standard Ikon not respond to right-foot commands too keenly, I urge you to give Novel Ford a call. It's most definately worth it.

For:
Go, Go, Go!!! (Performance)
Steering & Handling
Elasticity

Against:
Woh, woh, wohhh!! (no ABS)
Short gear ratio

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