To be truly honest, the old Figo was my least favourite Ford. It was one that I could never see myself driving. When I received an invite to the New Figo Launch I quickly responded “YES” because I simply had to compare the old vs the new and secretly hoped that my perception of the Figo would change, although I knew it would be difficult considering my strong unchangeable idea of the old Figo.
With much criticism and research on the day of the event I could not find fault with the new Figo and have warmed up to the gorgeous new, sexy, upgraded look!
The new look – Derived from the Fusion and Focus, the new Figo has the distinctive front grille and elongated front head lamps. It’s aerodynamic look is derived from 100 hours of wind tunnel testing to produce a fuel efficient vehicle.
I love its new, updated look featuring distinctive characteristics of the newly launched Ford cars allowing it to be recognized as a new addition to the family.
Options options options: Now available in a diesel option !
Value for money: Titanium models feature Sync system & Ford My Key.
My Ford Dock: a new feature that Ford has introduced and one that was the selling point of this car for me. My Ford Dock is a “secret” compartment that one can pop open and charge a phone or a GPS system. The dock holds the item while charging it and displaying the screen.
Technology: This car is clearly designed for a young, on-the-go personality with plenty of USB charging ports and great audio. Special care was taken into creating a car for music lovers, comfort seekers and trend setters.
I was impressed by the new Figo and would go as far as saying that I was disappointed that it was not released 6 months ago when I was looking to buy a new car within this price range. Well done on another top quality, smart, innovative car launch.
Top fave feature: Ford My Dock
Interesting find: As a manual driver I found that I enjoyed the automatic more as the manual was a bit sluggish, having said that, when saving so much on fuel the sluggish take to increase speed is worth the fuel savings.
For the fashion followers and event followers, read below for a little insight as to what we got up to on ford the launch:
We followed our route map and made our way to a secret venue near Hatebeespoort Dam where we zip lined & had a few refreshments.
We hit the road for our next stop – Hartebeespoort Cable Way where we had lunch with the most amazing view. The open roads allowed us to test the car and appreciate its comfort and quiet drive.
Our final stop was Hartebeespoort Dam where we enjoyed a quick boat ride before enjoying our last chance to drive the Figo to our hotel in JHB.
Thanks to Ford South Africa for the most amazing experience and an awesome scenic drive to enjoy the new Figo.
Here’s a video of what we got up to:
2015 Ford Ranger Experience
This time last week I joined the Ford family on an epic adventure as we tested the 2015 Ranger.
We met at Cape Town International Airport where the shiny new Rangers were lined up and ready for the day’s itinerary.
I was very excited to see what the new Ranger had to offer. I have a secret love for 4×4’s as I grew up traveling SA and surrounds in a 4×4 and even learnt to drive in one at a young age. These sorts of events are nostalgic for me, taking me back to my younger years traveling SA and doing my school work in the back of our 4×4 or in the rooftop tent. Before the event, I knew exactly which colour I wanted (for good photos) and made sure I was the first to grab the Blue XLT.
We paired up and set off with our professional driver trainers and headed for the Cederberg. Before we reached our destination for the day we had a quick rest stop and driver change. I also met the coolest 4-legged friend and had to have a pic with him!
The drive to our first stop was comfortable and surprisingly quiet for a 4×4. I made use of cruise control and enjoyed the drive through the stunning farmlands. After a quick catch up with the other guests we made our way to the venue at the base of the Matroosberg Mountains, me being in the navi seat this time.
We arrived at our location and had a quick media briefing while enjoying a delicious lunch. Finally it was time to truly test the Ranger’s capabilities! I jumped into a 4×4 with a driver trainer and drove through the 4×4 obstacle course with the guidance of my trainer and other trainers outside of the vehicle. We tested some of the cars features and the trainer was extremely helpful as he explained the features, the uses of the features and how to use them correctly. I was most impressed by the Hill Launch Assist as the trainer made me stop on an epic incline and told me to trust the hill launch assist and move on without a handbrake. In an every day car on the road, this would have been easy, but trusting the car to not roll back on the incredible 4×4 incline obstacle was another thing – no doubt the Ranger proved that it could be trusted and I was extremely impressed.
Our next adventure for the day was an incredible hill climb up the Matroosberg mountain pass where we tested the 4L and Hill Decent Assist. The 4×4 was a dream to drive and I found myself trusting the car completely as it crawled over each rock and made it’s way up the rocky, steep gravel pass all the way to the top and back to the bottom again! With these sorts of features one feels as though they can tackle anything at ease!
After an amazing 4×4 experience we made our way to Aquila Safari Lodge where we went on a quick sunset safari and stayed the night.
The next morning we woke up early for a buffet breakfast and I quickly made my way to grab a Ranger Wildtrak so that we could have a chance to test it. My first Ford launch was a Wildtrak launch so I was curious to see the new features and compare it to the one I tested previously.
The drive home was pure luxury as we used the Lane Keeping Aid, Adaptive Cruise Control, Sync2, the rear view camera when reversing and of course, enjoyed the detailed interior.
A feature I loved that we did not test was Trailer Sway Control – proving that the 4×4 is perfect for comfortable weekday driving as well as outdoor adventures and holidays.
The Ranger is a proudly SA made vehicle and I was truly lucky to visit their engine plant in Port Elizabeth and see the amount of hard work, precision and hours that go into the engine alone. It was something special to see the new Ranger complete after being assembled at the Silverton plant and finally, being driven and tested. With a new ranger being completed every 2 minutes it is easy to understand the demand for this vehicle after testing it on the event.
Thank you Ford South Africa for an unforgettable experience.
More info here
Go Further Africa Conference
I flew up to JHB for my second annual Ford Conference this week. It was held at the Sandton Convention centre where they had all of their cars on show for petrol heads and motor journalists to appreciate.
Ford knows exactly how to host an event that pleases everyone from the technical journalists to the media influencers. They divided their cars into sections that were clearly marked… from “Fleet” to “Ford Performance” – there was a section that everyone was interested in.
I found myself running straight to the Ford Performance section where they had their rally car showing off its new look along with a rally game simulator that many people had a try at! I caught up with Mark Cronje who I met at the VW rally last month as was able to chat to him about the upcoming Rally which began at 12pm on Friday in Cullinan, just outside of Pretoria. This year’s route was almost exactly the same as last year and the team was hoping that this would work in Ford’s favor to bring home another win!! Unfortunately Ford #24 broke a steering link in the second last stage which cost them 10 mins as they tried to fix it.
I also saw one of my portraits I took of the team at the last Rally pop up in Ford’s presentation – what a lovely surprise! (left photo)
Ford has some very exciting new vehicles launching and I was able to have a look at all of them briefly before we were relocated to a new conference room where they officially announced the arrival of new cars and a new e-bike! Cars that caught my eye were:
The Focus RS:
A sporty car for racing fanatics that has 4 drive modes including an industry-first drift mode…
The New Ranger:
With it’s advanced features, Ford has announced that it is the smartest of its kind on the road – providing the driver with a “smarter kind of tough”. Ford also announced the Ranger Odyssey Challenge 2015 winner – Liane van Dyke. I have been following the challenge via their website and youtube and watched the show when it aired on Saturday 15th at 12pm on DSTV. If you missed the show, you can watch it here.
Another exciting announcement was their new e-bike concept which is run via a phone app and includes a “no sweat mode” for bike rides to the office or meetings allowing the rider to arrive fresh and sweat free!
My favourite, the Focus ST was on show in the popular colour – Tangerine Scream which launched along with the car last month.
View the Durban launch of the Focus ST (here)
Along with my featured favourites, Ford announced the launch of the New Figo Hatchback and Sedan, Everest and B-Max. Ford asked me to cover the launch of the B-Max which occurred the day after the conference… watch this space as I will be sharing photos and information on the launch soon!
Finally, the Performance car that everyone has been talking about… The Mustang – available in a more fuel efficient ecoboost engine… I couldn’t put it any better than Tracey Delate who said that the “Mustang is definitely more than just a car – it is the heart and soul of Ford.” I was lucky enough to sit behind the wheel of this beauty and appreciate its stunning, sleek interior and chat to car fanatics about how excited we are for the moment it launches. Ford is taking bookings for the Mustang as well as hosting a competition called the #MustangLottery where you can win a Mustang! Keep a look out for this competition!
Thank you for another exciting event Ford South Africa!
VW Rally 2015 – Port Elizabeth
Every year I fly up to Port Elizabeth to watch the VW Rally in July. This year, I was hosted by the Ford Performance team and was able to view the rally as a spectator and spend time with Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton. Adding a behind the scenes feel to my usual spectator photos, I had an amazing time with the team.
The night before the Rally, VW organized a “scrutineering” event where the public could watch the cars being scrutinised and approved for the Rally. The drivers and navigators were there to sign autographs and take photos, some were entered into a fun wheel changing competition for the public to watch.
Day 1 began with a special guided tour through the Ford engine factory where they manufacture the Ford Ranger engines. The visit was extremely interesting as they explained the process and extreme measures that they go through to supply customers with the very best engine. I highly recommend booking a tour if you find yourself in Port Elizabeth. No photos were allowed to be taken but I managed to get permission to take the below two images.
The stages on day 1 were extremely dusty and my camera took a bit of a beating but it was all worth it once I went through my images. The Ford team got a puncture due to the rocky terrain in the 3rd stage and pushed through 6km to the finish putting them 17 seconds behind the leading team.
I captured some images at the service park while their service team changed the tyre and serviced the car.
After the break, we quickly moved on to the start of the next stage. The were a few repeat stages which was both good and bad for spectators. Unfortunately there was a lot of back and fourth driving as the stages were repeated but it was great to have knowledge of the good photo locations as we returned to the stages for a second time. Day 1 ended at Aldo Scribante Racetrack where Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton were able to gain back a few seconds to the leading Toyota team.
Day 2 began at 7am in the Longmore Forest, one of my favourite locations for photos. Unfortunately the rain added to the already treacherous route, making the stages slippery and extremely challenging. It was wet and windy and I had the whole day ahead of me so I took some images at the start of the stage and moved on to the following stages, taking very few images as the rain bucketed down and made it unpleasant for both spectator and driver.
The service park was completely flooded and I gained another level of respect for the service team as they worked on the car in the mud, wind and rain – sweeping away the water but not winning against the down pour that always happens on the weekend of the VW Rally. After the service park we drove to what was now the final stage of the rally as the original final two stages had to be cancelled due to the rain.
I opted for the finish line at the final stage so that I could capture the top two teams arrive and hear the final results immediately. Mark Cronje mentioned that he enjoyed the Longemore forest stages of the rally and this is where the team could have caught up to the leading team. The Ford team shortened the time between them and the Toyota team but not enough to take first place for this Rally. Although they took second place, they are still the leading team in this seasons championship. The rally ended with Toyota’s Leeroy Poulter/Elvene Coetzee in first place, 2nd place was Ford’s Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton and third place Giniel de Villiers/Carolyn Swan.
Thank you to the team for hosting me for the weekend, it was an amazing experience.
*All images are my own. Permission to be used or an offer to purchase must be made before using these. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for inquiries.*
Ford Focus ST 2015
I always get excited when I see an email invite from Ford and was even more excited when I received the invite to the New Focus ST launch.
Ford is my chance to combine my two passions in life – cars and fashion – and I hope that my followers can enjoy this post whether they like either or both…
It started with an early 4am morning drive to Cape Town International Airport and a flight to Durban for the day. We arrived in Durban, relieved that it was a lot warmer than Cape Town and jumped into the Ford Shuttle which dropped us off the the start of the launch.
I spent some time looking at the cars and took some detail shots of the venue and the Focus ST before the briefing for the day began.
I took to the above colour called “Stealth” and had my eye on it weeks before the event. My co-driver and I made sure that we were first to get the keys for it so that I could capture some great pics and see the colour upfront as it changed tones in different light.
Ensly from Ford gave us our brief for the day – we were following a route map to Dezzi Raceway. We teamed up with a co-driver and chose our colour cars. My co-driver was Grant from World Wide Active (give him a follow here)
I navigated first and read out the map instructions while we discussed the car, it’s details and enjoyed the lush green Durban landscape (I NEED to visit again for photoshoots!).
Attention to detail is obvious throughout the ST. From the sneaky red “ST” found on the leather steering wheel to the illuminated aluminium scuff plates, you will find a branded “ST” in many places around the car to remind you that you are driving something sporty & special. Driving the ST is easy, quiet and comfortable and turns heads wherever you are.
Ford has fitted the ST with an engine sound imposer. This allows the driver to enjoy a quiet drive and still hear the power of the engine when needed. Under normal driving, the vehicle’s soundproofing reduces sound to a minimum but under heavy acceleration, a valve opens on a pipe connecting the engine bay to the cabin, channeling the sound to the dashboard for the driver to hear. For those who do not want to hear the growl of the engine, the system is customizable, so drivers can modify it or one can turn it off altogether.
The Focus ST3 is also fitted with Ford MyKey, Sync2 and Recaro seating making our drive extremely comfortable. Half way to the raceway we had a driver change. Everyone took photos, tweeted, instagramed and chatted enthusiastically about the drive in the ST. Finally, it was MY turn to drive the Focus ST. I got into the drivers seat and off we went. The car’s eagerness to GO took some getting used to and got me excited for the track!
The drive to Dezzi Raceway was scenic and hilly, testing the power of the eco boost engine. Light on fuel and powerful at the same time, the lower gear changes provide quick power and speed while the higher gears allow one to cruise comfortably.
We arrived at the track, had a media briefing to clear any questions about the Focus ST and enjoyed a delicious lunch with a row of colorful Focus ST’s lined up and ready for the track.
After the media briefing we were introduced to the drivers who were going to teach us how to drive the track. They gave us a few tips on how to sit correctly in the drivers seat and took us for a ride around the track to show us how to take the corners and what to do when driving it ourselves. We then took turns to race 3 loops of the complicated track known for it’s blind rise corner turns and hair pin corners. The cars impressed everyone as they showed off their good handling of the road; power and speed. The professional drivers were absolutely amazing and directed us throughout the track encouraging us and advising us when we felt unsure.
We ended the day off with a gymkhana race – the winner won a Focus ST for one month. Sadly the winner was not me but I had a ton of fun snaking through the beacons as fast as I could.
We left for the air port to catch our flight home after a memorable day on the track. I snapped a few scenic shots while my co-driver enjoyed the last hour on the road with the ST.
Thanks to Ford for a memorable day testing out this amazing motor vehicle. The Focus ST is quick, sporty and is available in the colour Stealth (my grey one), Tangerine Scream, Frozen White, Race Red, Panther Black, Moondust Silver and Deep Impact Blue (Ford always has the most awesome colour names!).
The ST1 will cost you R381 900 and the ST3 R421 900.
“Externally the ST3 is distinguished from the ST1 by means of the eye-catching LED daytime running lights..”
Keep a lookout for these sporty cars on the road – you can’t miss them.
Thanks to Mike Eloff for this pic of me at the Focus ST Launch.
Ford Kuga Picnic:
Early Thursday morning I got an exciting email from Ford. They were spoiling me to a picnic in Kirstenbosch Gardens with friends and family. I couldn’t think of anything better than to be in the gorgeous gardens – a photographers paradise – AND arrive there in the Ford Kuga 1.5L Ecoboost. I am always excited to work with word, a company that has truly understood my passion for cars and photography.
Ford arrived on Friday with two gourmet picnic baskets in the boot of the Deep Impact Blue Kuga. The first thing I said was “That colour is going to look amazing in photos!” …and it DID!
Friday and Saturday were busy days for me so I organized our picnic on Friday at sunset along Camps Bay drive as the food that was supplied would not keep until our Kirstenbosch visit on Sunday. The Picnic Company out did themselves with our baskets, each was filled with a cheese platter, hummus and veg, salmon and bread, wraps, fruit and a delicious red velvet cupcake – not to forget refreshments.
I arrived at our picnic location after attending an event and set up the area with cushions and blankets (also supplied). We sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the sunset next to the Kuga.
On Sunday, I treated the family to a scenic drive in the Kuga where we followed the map supplied by Ford to Kirstenbosch Gardens. The Kuga arrived with 4 packs of padkos and these came in handy as we munched on biltong, butternut crisps, dried fruit, nuts and refreshments!
This was a highlight for the family as they enjoyed their snacks on the tray fitted behind each seat! (Perfect for family outings)
We spent the day exploring the Gardens and taking photos.
When Monday arrived I was dreading the call to collect the SUV as I very quickly attached myself to the luxury and comfort of the car. I made sure I took the car for another quick drive on Monday morning to capture some more photos of it before it was collected. It photographed so well and I couldn’t miss out on one last opportunity to drive it! Here are some of my favourite things about the Kuga 1.5L Ecoboost:
1. The power. Being an Ecoboost engine, many people are pleasantly surprised by the power of the car. Having driven other Ford Ecosboost engines, I knew what to expect and enjoyed explaining to everyone how light on fuel yet powerful the engine was.
2. 6 Speed Powershift. Sometimes I feel that automatics take too long to change gears but the Kuga offers an option to manually shift up or down to the next gear by using a switch on the gear lever. I also enjoyed the sports mode in this car which gave the car an extra “push” when needed and really set aside my original thoughts that this was a “soccer mom car”. Once inside and driving, you realize that this car is something that can suit anyone!
3. The Look. I loved the chic look of the car. Soft lines and shape to make it aerodynamic and good looking at the same time. The dual exhaust pipes are always a winner.
4. Seat trays. I loved the idea of the fitted seat trays behind the front seats making this car perfect for traveling as well as for family outings. (This is also great for on the road photoshoots!)
5. Heated seats. Finally, the heated seats were a blessing as the winter chill begins. What a treat!
Thank you Ford, I had an amazing weekend exploring my city in the Kuga.
Day 1 of the Ford Focus Launch included a mid day flight to Port Elizabeth. Upon arrival at the airport we met the Ford team and collected our name tags. Aisha and I spent most of our time snap chatting pics of our belongings and took tons selfies as it was our very first Ford event together and I was too excited to have Aisha join me!
We were driven to the hotel where we checked in at The Radisson in Summerstrand and received a welcome gift (perfect for our boat party later on that night) a pair of Superga’s in a nautical colour way. Being the nerd I am, I slipped mine on straight away and dashed out of the hotel to visit my PE family for a quick cup of tea while the rest of the media enjoyed their hotel rooms and took a walk on the beach.
At 6pm we all met at the conference room to find out more about the new Ford Focus. I couldn’t wait!! I don’t look like the kind of person who is interested in cars, but growing up in a family that travelled the country via 4×4 and had a passion for rally cars and all cars in general gave me the passion for cars that I have today! Ford presented us with a very interesting slide show and explained all of the new features of the Focus. Two facts that stood out above the rest, for me, was that the new Focus is cheaper than its predecessor and the fact that if you drove a round trip of 30km your Ford EcoBoost engine would put out less C02 than a family of 4 breathing for a day!!
Lucky for me, Maps Maponyane took my camera and snapped pics of the presentation while I jotted down some notes.
I was able to photograph a few slides that had some interesting information:
After the conference we were transported to the PE harbor where we had dinner and drinks on the Jester. The seas were very rough so we had a boat ride inside the harbor and anchored in the middle allowing us photographers to go wild with night time photos of the harbor lights!
Day 2 of the Ford Focus Launch in Port Elizabeth began with a misty sunrise over the ocean and a delicious breakfast downstairs at the Radisson’s breakfast buffet. After breakfast we all checked out, packed our bags and met the Ford team in the parking area where the new Focus’s were parked and ready for test driving. We were given a quick brief and selected our keys before finding our first car for the day. Aisha and I had the 1.5 EcoBoost in a stunning metallic silver and she took to the wheel first while I navigated.
As soon as I got into the car I noticed that a few features of the Ford Fusion had filtered down into the Focus:
The new Focus has a hands free park assist feature which now offers perpendicular parking assistance as well as the original parallel park assist that was previously introduced as a feature for the current Focus.
A few other features that caught my eye were the Existing Adaptive Cruise Control and “Active City Stop collision avoidance system, which uses sensors at the front of the vehicle to look for stationary objects in the road ahead and pre-charges the brakes if the vehicle is approaching an object too quickly. If the driver still does not respond the system reduces engine torque and automatically applies the brakes to reduce the impact of collisions.”
For the first time, the new Focus will be equipped with Ford’s MyKey technology. “MyKey enables owners to programme a key – usually for younger drivers – that restricts the top speed, reduces the maximum volume of the audio system, and can disable it altogether if driver and passengers are not using safety belts. The system can prevent the driver from deactivating safety technologies.” I loved this idea as I often lend my car to family members!
We started up the car, sync’d Aisha’s phone to the system, put on our favourite songs and began the Ford adventure!
We drove along Sea View, Sardinia Bay, across to Hankey and stopped off in Patensie…
The first driver change was just before Hankey and I was too excited to get into the drivers seat. Aisha did a great job of navigating while we spoke about the car (yes, we actually spoke about the car and it’s features). It was like the fashionable version of top gear (lol). The view along the route was absolutely stunning and the car was extremely easy to drive along the hills, bends and narrow farm roads.
We arrived at our lunch destination in Patensie called “Padlangs” and joined everyone for a delicious burger and ice cold refreshment. Aisha and I shot a second look post before we all made our way back to the air port.
Our second car for the day was the 1.0L EcoBoost which was just as good looking and comfortable to drive as the 1.5L. I love the new, improved design of the new Focus, as well as the added features that make driving an absolute breeze!
If you have any questions, follow this link and find out more about the Focus which is available in a hatchback or sedan model.
Thank you Ford for another top quality launch and an amazing driving experience.
All photos are my own unless stated in the captions.