By Dave Abrahams
Pretoria - I tried to count how many times Ford uses the term 'all-new ' in its 1658-word media release for the 2016 Ford Figo sedan and hatch, launched in South Africa this week, but lost track at about 20.
Which is an indication of how serious the Blue Oval is about telling us that unlike the earlier offering, which was a recycled previous-generation Fiesta, this Figo is very much its own car.
Exclusive to the Indian, Mexican, Brazilian and now South African markets, it's based on an evolution of the Figo's platform, but even that's been stretched in every dimension except height, and all the panels are new. The styling is derived from Ford's Kinetic 2.0 design language, familiar from the current Fusion and Focus, especially the signature trapezoidal grille, swept-back windshield and sweeping roofline.
The cabin - which Ford says is now a proper five-seater (we'll take that under advisement until we've done the rugby-player test) - has been carefully packaged using every litre of internal volume to make space for no less than 20 places to lose things, including a bottle-holder in each front doors that'll take a 1.5-litre and a one-litre bottle at the same time, a glove compartment big enough for a laptop, three cup holders for the two front seat occupants (go figure!) and a storage bin for rear passengers at the back of the centre console.
There's even a concealed stash for small valuables in the driver's side of the dashboard that's only accessible when the driver's door is open.
The boot of the hatch will take 257 litres of retail therapy, the sedan 445 - and folding their rear seatbacks will stretch that a lot further.
The new Figo comes with a choice of two engines - a 1.5-litre petrol four rated at 82kW and 136Nm, at a nominal fuel-consumption 5.6 litres per 100km, or the 1.5-litre Duratorq TDCi engine, delivering 74kW and 215Nm, the latter at just 1750rpm, while burning a nominal 4.9 litres per 100km.
Standard issue is a five-speed manual gearbox, and the Titanium models - sedan and hatch - are also available with a six-speed, dual-clutch Powershift auto transmission.
The new Figo will be offered in South Africa in a choice of three trim levels - each available in both sedan and hatch format - starting with the Ambiente, featuring body-colour bumpers, rear foglights, aircon, tinted windows, front airbags, key-operated central locking and an anti-theft alarm.
It also has a Blue-tooth enabled four-speaker radio/CD/MP3 sound system with USB and Aux inputs, and introduces MyFord Dock - a docking bay in the centre stack, just below the radio faceplate. You can hook up your music player or smartphone to the car's audio system, and charge it at the same time - which makes using your phone for navigation a whole lot more practical, as well as more convenient.
The Trend specification adds body-colour door handles, 14 inch alloys in place of the Ambiente's steel rims with plastic covers, front foglights and electrically-adjustable exterior mirrors.
The instrumentation features a rev counter and shift light, the power-operated windows have a one-touch function for the driver and child locks for the rear windows, while the doors lock automatically when you drive off.
The range-topping Titanium gets all that plus chromed headlight bezels, electronic climate control, six airbags and, on auto-transmission variants, an electronic stability program with hill hold.
Remote central locking is standard, including a MyKey function, which lets you impose sensible restrictions for drivers with less experience - such as a maximum speed limit, or a persistent seatbelt reminder that mutes the audio system volume and plays that annoying chime until both front-seat occupants are buckled up.
The Titanium also has Sync connectivity, so you can run the car's infotainment system - and through it, whatever devices you have connected to it - by voice commands, without taking your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road.
1.5 Ambiente - R158 900
1.5 Trend - R167 900
1.5 Titanium - R181 900
1.5 Titanium AT - R203 900
1.5 TDCi Ambiente - R189 900
1.5 TDCi Trend - R199 900
1.5 Ambiente - R160 900
1.5 Trend - 169 900
1.5 Titanium AT - R205 900
These include a four-year or 120 000km warranty and a two-year or 40 000km service plan. Service intervals are 20 000km on both petrol and diesel models.