Ford Ikon 1.3 SXi Nxt

The Ford Ikon gets a new 1.3 motor and a SXi new look

Ford has done a lot of things with the Ikon to make the Nxt generation available for sale from January 2003 onwards. A look at the press pack reveals this. Gentlemen, start counting – the new Ikon benefits from FCPA (Ford Consumer Product Audit), VRTs (cross functional variability reduction teams), Six sigma methodology cascaded across the organisation, Black Belt projects for improving customer satisfaction, FE (fuel efficiency) improvement, customer vehicles fitted with black box data logger, CVSP (Corporate Vehicle Simulation Programme), analysis of RWD (Real World Data), DFSP (Decel Fuel Shut Off) for acceleration runs, EARS (Early Accelerated Reporting System) from the Fiesta, RWET (Real World Early Warning Tests), 600 hours Cologne Durability Cycle, 180 hours of WOT (Wide Open Throttle), tests with fuel adulterated with 20 per cent kerosene, HEG (heated exhaust gas) sensors, sleeping driver function, BIC driveability, Calfreeze (Calibration Freeze), PV (Part validation), DV (some other validation), 1,75,000 km on 15 engines, RW mileage (Real World, you dumbo, you should know that by now), change in NVH from J#1 on mid range P/T NVH (we are losing it...what’s Ford’s number? Help!) P/T intrusion, BIC rear seat package...knock, knock...

Now that you are convinced about the Ikon Nxt being a new animal altogether, do you really need to read further? You should, if you want to know how ATAWIIRC (All Those Abbreviations Work in Indian Road Conditions). Because we put the cars through their paces. And yes, the following report is in English.

Let us get things clear. From now on, all the ZXi versions will carry the aggressive front-end treatment we first saw on the SXi model some time back. While the 1.6 Rocam engine remains the same, a brand new single overhead cam 1300 CC motor takes the place of the good old 1300 CC push rod unit that was carried over from the Escort days. But the latter engine will continue to be in production for some more time.

Stir Fryed
The Nxt looks fresh and nice, and those snazzy 14-inch wheels with 175/65 rubber give it a better stance. The diamond mesh grille and the white lens lighting fixtures make the Ikon look that much more contemporary. The interior revamps are also classy and subtle, which affords the interior a more crafted feel, and makes it seem bigger than it actually is. 

Ford had Christine Fry of Ford Design studio devise a comprehensive plan, and her truffle-based colour and grain scheme gives a very European feel to the interior.While we like the ‘star check’ finish given to the panels, we are not in agreement with Fry on the chosen seat fabric. It may feel luxurious to the target audience, but we prefer the functional, easy-to-clean material used in the base version. Nice touches include a chrome ring for the gear and hand brake lever. New 45W speakers, new interior lamp with theatre
dimming feature, a timing device introduced into the rear wipers, and a split turn indicator complete the interior make-over. And yes, a tacho meter is now standard across all variants – signs of things to come?

Nxt change
We hit the Mahindra Auto Park next to Ford’s Maraimalainagar plant for a test-drive session. Wide open roads with fast sweepers meant the new 1300 CC was given a decent work-out. The SOHC mill, built for Ford by Hindustan Motors’ Pithampur operations (they also build the Lancer powerpacks), instantly impressed with its refinement.The four pot unit develops a modest 69 bhp at 5500 rpm and 10.5 kgm of torque at 2500 rpm – not exactly a distant cousin of the Mustang Cobra, but no Tin Lizzie either.
Compare the increased power to the 50-odd horses of the push rod motor and you start appreciating the new numbers. Launch the car in a spirited fashion and the 1.3 feels almost as quick as its bigger Rocam namesake. 

We are yet to officially test the car, but we can give a hint by letting you know that this motor can manage 60 kph in 5.5 seconds and realise three-digit stuff in 13-odd seconds. There is a sense of urgency about this motor that takes the new Ikon twins closer to the benchmark in the C-segment – the  Honda City 1.3 and 1.5. The smaller motor costs substantially less, but you won’t have to sacrifice the ‘joshful experience’ popularised by the 1.6 Ikons.Even at lower engine speeds, the mill’s tractability can be termed very good. And yes, unlike the push rod motor, you don’t need to go through the switching-air-con-off-mashing-throttle-and-praying routine while attempting overtaking manoeuvres. Actually, the Rocam was its best at typical passing speeds, with the third gear carrying you all the way to 140 kph! Brilliant! 

Apart from the new engine, the Ikon range also has improved ride and handling. But to know more about the 2003 Ikon, read our issue Nxt month.