'Cos if you wanna run cool
If you wanna run cool
Yes if you wanna run cool, you got to run
On heavy fuel’
When Mark Knopfler penned these famous lyrics, little did the man know that it would be more apt today than it was back in the day. The fuel once reserved for trucks and farming machinery is now fast becoming the sought after juice for passenger cars. This is why we’ve put two diesel engined budget cars in this test. They are both mid-size sedans; both are nearly in the same price segment. One of them has been around for a long time on Indian roads, but now features a new diesel mill and has had a quick appointment with the plastic surgeon. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Ford Ikon 1.4 TDCi and the Mahindra Renault Logan. Now with the pleasantries done with, let’s just get on with it.
LOOKS AND DESIGN
Speaking of head to head, the Logan is boxy looking from the front. Walk around and that image is still retained; boxy, boxy and more boxy. Well, there’s a reason to all that boxiness. Flatter panels mean less intensive stamping which translates to a lower cost of production. Besides, it’s easier to bring a rounded panel back to a flat profile as compared to bringing a flat panel back to a curved shape – which means panel repair would be easier too. Wonderful, cost cutting all over – cheaper to make and cheaper to repair. The straight lines, however, do not mar the overall look of the Logan, and give it a rather stealthy look. Not convinced? Check out the F-117 Nighthawk and compare notes!
The Ikon, however, is as curvy as, er, Beyonce. But the thing is that despite the facelift, the car looks just like the older Ikons. Yes, it has a new grille, clear tail lights and stocky headlights, but the Ikon looks aged. In retrospect, the Ikon resembling Mata Hari is more like it!
LOGAN : **1/2
IKON : **1/2 INTERIOR AND COMFORT
Okay, so I’m a big guy. But that doesn’t really become a hindrance when I get into the Logan, do the driving bit and when I get out. My knees don’t scrub clean the tan dash board (which looks quite upmarket, I must add) every time I am in the car and my head doesn’t touch the roof either. The AC, which cools very effectively, has fancy circular louvres with pseudo brushed aluminium trim that adds visual appeal to the interiors. Ergonomics, however are entirely off. It’s like the blokes who designed it were a tad sadistic, making you work a sweat just trying to find the power window switch while on the move. The boot release is hidden behind the handbrake lever and quite frankly, finding it is akin to searching for a yellow rubber duck in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Everybody loves to listen to good music while behind the wheel. But sadly, the older Logan (that we pitted the Ikon with) won’t croon if you feed it with MP3 CDs, only audio CDs for this stereo, no USB either. So if you’re on a long drive, don’t forget to pack in a bag load of CDs.
The Ikon’s interiors, I think, were made with Muppets in mind. However, BSM doesn’t really hire soft toys and for us normal sized people, the interiors feel extremely cramped. While behind the wheel, my left knee hovers near the stereo panel, coming in the way of accessing the gear shift lever and my right knee digs into the driver’s door cladding, which thankfully is padded. Brown is a great colour for mousse but is weird when it’s the hue of your car’s dashboard. In addition to having a funny shade, the dashboard is plasticky and does not look high quality. The steering wheel is sporty, which means it’s typically very small, which also means that the diameter of the wheel would make Calista Flockhart’s waist seem obese. That ultimately means that driving the Ikon requires you to hunch up and grasp the wheel, making it a pain to drive for extended periods of time. Thankfully, the ergonomics are less painful, with everything within short reach. The AC louvres are a little cheap looking but do their job, which however the aircon itself fails to do. The cooling is quite inadequate and not parking the car in the shade will mean that you will have to keep sweating for a long time till the temperature in the cabin actually drops to a comfortable level.
The stereo is equipped with Bluetooth technology that enables your cellphone to hook up with it. That allows you to answer calls with the speakers of the stereo acting like the earpiece of your phone and a mic clipped onto the roof near the right A-pillar substituting the mouthpiece. I couldn’t really try out this feature as my cellphone deserves to be displayed in the museum, right beside Thomas Edison’s first light bulb.
LOGAN : ***1/2¶
IKON : **1/2
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE
The Logan’s engine is great at what it does. And what it does is pump out 65 bhp at 4000 rpm with 16.3 kgm of torque. It will push you to a top whack of 158 kph without much wheezing but it does take its own sweet time getting there. It also gives you good low down grunt and while overtaking, all you need to do is downshift a gear in the smooth gearbox and you’re ready to play Hakkinen. We have driven the Logan far and wide and never has it felt slow or asthmatic, even on the highway.
I love noisy engines; not clatter, but the roaring kind. And that’s why I loved driving the Ikon. The engine sings its song unabashedly and the notes get into the cabin without much trouble. Sure, some people might think that is a problem, but not me. The Ikon’s four-cylinder diesel, borrowed from the Fiesta, feels much more sprightly than the Logan’s mill with 67 bhp at 4000 rpm and the torque figures being identical to the Renault’s 1.5 litre engine.
LOGAN : ***
IKON : ***1/2 RIDE AND HANDLING
Hardly a person to make sweeping statements, I must admit that I have to make an exception this time. The Logan has the best ride quality in its class. Take it out onto tarmac or fling it over pothole ridden dirt roads, this car will take it all with surprising aplomb. On a recent drive to Goa, and with a very I-always-wanted-to-be-a-rally-driver looking Rohin driving, we were cruising over broken roads at over 80 kph. And with every pothole we flew over, I thought the suspension was going to rip through the firewall and impale me in my seat. But nothing happened. The Logan took it with neither creak nor crack. Bringing the Logan to a standstill is easy. The brakes are progressive and return a lot of feel. Which is not what the steering does, however. The steering feels a little vague and is pretty slow turning.
The Ikon suspension is quite able too, with a very stiff setup. But where it outdoes the Logan is in the handling department. In the slalom run, the
Logan had a mind of its own, going where it wanted as opposed to where I wanted it to go. However, the Ikon stuck firmly to the ground and around the cones, the Ford stuck to its line like a leech on a vein.
Stomping on the brakes of the Ikon is like stepping onto a cement block. The brake pedal has very little travel and returns little or no feel. Although not under-braked, the brakes of the Ford could have been more progressive. The steering is brilliant, returning a lot of feedback and quick responses do add to the thrill factor of driving the Ikon around the twisties.
LOGAN : ***
IKON : ***
The Logan offers generous space, handles great and runs quite well in city and highway conditions. Ford’s Ikon has a good sporty feel, is quicker but the cramped interiors are a bit of a hindrance. Although the Ikon looks a tad better than the Renault, the Ford has aged quite a bit, with all those newer cars that have hit the market. What’s the verdict then? After all, this is a comparison, right? I’d say the Logan wins this bout, with better value for money and on the whole, a more complete package. Only gotta do something about listening to Knopfler’s MP3 files on the stereo.
'Cos if you wanna run cool