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Old 27th April 2010, 13:52   #1
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Default Ford Ikon 1.6 Nxt ZXI - 6 years, 72,000 kms

Ford Ikon 1.6 Nxt ZXI - 6 years and 72,000 kms report. Purchase date 31st March 2004.

My sweetheart has recently celebrated her 6th birthday and I am so passionately attached to her that I want to talk about her. I thought T-BHP is the only forum to express my adulation, so here goes!

(Going through this post, I find I have not been objective in my approach. But I am leaving it as it is for two reasons: 1) this is from my heart and not my head, and 2), there’s no point in a highly objective report on a car that’s not in production).

In 2002, thanks to an increment, I could afford a new car and finally chose an Accent GLS. Honestly, it was a wonderful car, representing extraordinary value for money. But I always found the back seat too low, and the front seats too broad. Further, the steering was too light and not suiting me at all.

As a family we love driving, we drive to all our holiday destinations. The Accent performed flawlessly, never a single trouble.

But in 2004, driving back to Bangalore from Goa on a very good surface on the Karwar – Mangalore section, probably at around 110 kms per hour, I realised that the car was just floating on the road, silky smooth and silent. The steering was so light there was no feedback at all. It was suddenly unnerving. I realised that this kind of soft, smooth car was not suiting my instincts at all and decided then and there to change.

Popular drivers’ cars were then the Fiat Siena, Maruti Baleno, Honda City and Ford Ikon. All were first class drivers’ cars, but for various reasons, like cost, buy back of old car, and cost of maintenance, the first three were taken off my list. The Ikon 1.6 was left.

The first Ikons had negative reports on poor quality of fit and finish as a result of cost cutting. Moreover I still had a bad impression of Ford because of the Escort. (Hence Ford was never on my first list when I bought the Accent). But now it was on my radar because my Director had got one of the earliest 1.6 models and his driver incessantly praised the car, especially for its highway handling. My director too commended its rear seat comfort on long journeys.

A few months later, Autocar carried a test report on the new 1.6 Nxt. This upgrade, it appeared, was much better finished, especially the seats and upholstery.

Autocar promised a drivers’ delight at the cost of some cheapo parts and teeth-rattling suspension. I figured that the responsive engine, accurate steering and stiff suspension was what I was looking for. Now I started thinking seriously of the Ikon 1.6 ZXI Nxt.

Took a test drive and I was sold. I thought such engines only came in rally cars! Ford offered me a great exchange price for my Accent and a loan bundled into one, (anxious to meet sales target), so I signed up on the spot.

My sexy mistress, clad in shimmering oyster, came home two days later.

As Autocar had reviewed, this model’s interiors were very good. Well designed thick seats with a lovely velour finish that has neither faded nor worn after 6 years. (I spend a lot on the upholstery maintenance too). Some nice touches include a 3 way lamp design for the front roof light (a very useful feature) and two excellent rear reading lamps. It has very practical seat pockets. Lacking is a clock, but since the stereo has a clock this omission is not felt.

6 years and 72,000 kms later, she’s still here and sometimes I think I must be nuts to actually love something mechanical. I don’t think I’ll ever have the heart to part with her. Nowadays I’m so finicky that I don’t like even my wife or kids to drive her because I feel they don’t treat her with the same care!

So how’s she after all these years? How has she aged? - does she have wrinkles or blemishes? Does she suffer from arthritis or shortness of breath? Does she throw tantrums? A true, unbiased answer: none of the above.

This car is, IMHO, for its cost, perhaps the best driver’s package available here. Engine, gearbox, steering, chassis and suspension – all are in perfect sync. Steering is incredibly accurate. Once past 80 kph, the hitherto stiff suspension is now supple and keeps the car stable and level under any conditions of turn or brake. As it goes faster, it gets more into its realm.

Only the brakes are the odd man out. Not that I ever had a braking problem, but the feel is soft without “bite” and does not inspire the confidence that the rest of the package gives. This is certainly very surprising given that the car is otherwise so well put together. This psychological discomfort is even more so because this lady can, and often does, effortlessly go past 150 kph. Yet, as I say, I never actually had a braking problem – it’s apparently the lack of “feedback” that’s the problem.

Cost of ownership has been above average perhaps. But I have to add that I am very particular about maintenance and will spend a lot of money to maintain my car well. Also in every service at least Rs. 2000 goes for cosmetics – seat and carpet shampoo, 3M treatments, Waxoyl, etc. So maybe the cost is actually just a shade over average. In any case, I have never grudged a paisa – this car is simply worth every penny you can spend on it. She pays back all and more with the incredible driving experience. The more you spend on her, the more she’ll give to you.

Sometimes people tell me about the Ikon: it gives lousy mileage, it is expensive to maintain. To such people I reply: this car is for driving only, not for economy. If you want economy, think Maruti. If you need to ask, what mileage does it give?, then this is not the car for you. Only those who actually know what driving is, like T-BHPians, can understand this talk.

Fuel economy has been constant over 6 years. I always drive with AC. In Bangalore’s slow moving traffic I get a satisfactory 10 kmpl average. It used to be 10.5 kmpl, but as waits at traffic signals get longer, the FE has dropped. Long distance average is 13 kmpl (always with AC). I have gotten up to 15 kms per litre (Bangalore – Pondicherry: the road was bad and I never went above 80 kph. The result was this unusual FE!)

I’ve never had a single breakdown in 6 years and 72K kms. In January this year, for the first time, I had a part failure – the ignition coil. But even so the car didn’t stop – it just kept missing. I had the coil replaced and no further problem. Also this year I had to replace a few parts of the AC. These cost me a fair amount (about Rs. 3K I think) but that’s okay for 6 years I guess. Also I use the AC 24/7, winter and summer, so that’s quite okay I feel.

I have to point out here that I always “go by the book” for service and replacements. I never wait for something to fail. If the book says “replace”, I replace. That’s it.

Other than these, I’ve replaced only routine parts – brake pads, spark plugs, filters, etc. Once I’ve replaced front suspension bush kit. Bulbs: only one. I had to replace a rear brake lamp after 6 years! I did replace other bulbs but these were due to breakage in the usual bumps against other vehicles.

It cost me an arm and a leg to replace one headlamp and one fog lamp assembly. The fog lamp was cracked when on the highway a stone thrown up by a vehicle ahead hit the fog directly. Although the glass cracked the lamp continued to function. I ran it like this for some time but then it kept bugging me so I replaced it. I found that Fiesta parts are half the cost of Ikon!

Tail lamp incident - I had criticised my wife for always parking my car nose first whereas I park it rear first so I can drive out facing forward. Stung by this, one night my dear wife, who was driving, wanted to show me how well she could reverse park and reversed ‘smack’ into the pillar in our parking! I nearly wept when I saw the tail lamp which didn’t even have a scratch after nearly 6 years was broken at one corner. This was Valentine’s Day and I had just rashly promised not to quarrel with her so I just had to swallow my feelings! I told her that this was my Valentines’ Day gift to her – not yelling and screaming and tearing my hair out which I would have done otherwise!

It was not very visible, but I am so fussy about my car that I couldn’t bear to see the crack. So I changed both left and right assemblies with the new design (the old one was out of stock). Hint, if you own an older Ikon: the new design Ikon tail lamp assembly is half the cost of the old! But it doesn’t look as good as the old design.

Now in the last service, in March, the engineer told me the clutch would be needing attention in about 10K kms. Also he says the front shocks are due for replacement in the same period (about 10K kms).

Now, the indicator switch lever doesn’t return to neutral automatically. The cost of replacing is over Rs. 2000 so I have simply left it as it is. It’s no big hassle to manually operate.

An incident worth reporting: Last year the exhaust developed a leak and it made the usual horrible sound. At service time the engineer told me it couldn’t be welded and would cost Rs. 11K (or 15K, I don’t remember) to replace! I was stunned and said “no”. Next service, I went to another branch (Lingarajpuram) of the same company (Metro Ford Bangalore) and can you believe this: they welded the same for Rs. 70!

Lights are good if there’s no oncoming traffic at night. It can get tough with oncoming lights. Fog lamps are quite good.

Rear visibility is poor to say the least. Three rear view mirrors are a must. Even so, a large portion of the rear view is hidden by the high set rear and upward sloping rear shelf. ORVM’s cover only a small area, and care is advised at all times.

Reversing is particularly dangerous; virtually the whole area directly behind the car is hidden. Especially living in an apartment complex as I do, this can be very dicey as children could be playing behind and you can easily miss seeing them. Extra caution is always necessary while reversing.

AC is not the greatest and it’s noisy as well. This is my experience. Even in Bangalore’s relative cooler summers, the AC can just about cope in peak summer. I am comparing this with my Accent which had a superb AC. However, a friend recently bought an early model Ikon 1.6 and that has a quieter and better AC.

Hot air AC. This must be a first for any car. The AC first gives out hot air and then cold! Ford has never been able to solve this. They changed some valve, but it still does this at times. I simply accept it as one of its flaws – I’ve given up trying to convince the service guys about this.

Engine noise is loud. It is like a wet grinder! Who cares?

Road noise is high. It gets worse as the tyre tread wears off. I changed my first set even though they still had 10K kms life as the noise was excessive.

On the highway I never put on the stereo, personally I find it distracting. With the high level of road noise, you don’t miss it anyway. IMHO, in an Ikon, it should be driver and car and nothing else for the fullest experience.

Tyre wear is average. I am at 72K kms and on my second set. I expect to change in a couple of months, due to increasing road noise.

Steering is hard. Good, that’s the way it should be at high speeds. In town though, it requires some muscle.

The steering wheel itself is exciting, small and meaty. I’ve wrapped it in Stanley leather. Now, this is a case of serendipidity – the one I bought was not for the Ikon and is slighter larger. Due to this it’s wrinkled up. But this actually adds enormously to its comfort and grip and on long hauls there’s no fatigue.

Gear lever is good, slightly longish throw and requires some effort, but precise. One gets used to the long throw. Not as slick or light as Maruti’s.

Wiper blades - I change them every two years.

Doors have a single beading which results in a slightly ‘tinny’ sound when closing. My Accent had a double beading and used to close with a very satisfying “thunk”. Also this single beading leads to dust in the door jamb, although it doesn’t enter the cabin.

Boot space is adequate. The narrow and tall space means some extra large US type suitcases are difficult to fit in.

Now the positives – these outweigh the negatives by a huge margin!

It’s really an exhilarating experience to drive an Ikon on any long stretch, whether a good surface or just reasonable. Above 80 kph, nothing can ruffle its composure. The tighter the road the better, this is when it’s at its best. It loves being thrown into corners and gunned out of them. Meeting with sudden imperfections in the road doesn’t upset it at all, even in mid-corner.

On the Bangalore Goa trip, we take the Shimoga route and the ghat section is where the Ikon makes you love her. In fact, drive her hard on any ghat section and you’ll swear never to part with this baby.

The Ikon is so precise in its steering that you can point her into a corner and drive it to the exact line you wish. If the chosen line is right, you won’t even know you’re cornering, the suspension just soaks it up. I used to drive a lot Coimbatore Bangalore when I was working there in 2005. In the Thoppur Ghats I have often found myself at 160 kph, and unintentionally. It is advisable to keep a conscious check on your speed, its suspension is so good that it’s very deceptive – you could be going much faster than you think.

Here the seats come up for praise. Excellently designed, they hold you firmly in place while cornering. There’s never a moment that you have to expend any energy or thought to hold your place. The seats hold the driver all right and tight. More so when buckled up.

Only lumbar support is lacking, but a rolled up towel or small cushion placed to the small of the back can give the required support.

The front wells are relatively cramped (compared to Accent). I like it this way. This is a performance car and I like to be “locked” in the driving position.

Rear seats are great. Longest trips we’ve done in a day are Bangalore Goa, 650 kms. No discomfort at all. My wife often curls up on the back seat for a snooze and she’s quite comfortable.

Long, smooth highways are a breeze, but you don’t get the same heady exhilaration that comes in fast, twisty roads. Also, on flat straight stretches, it’s a good idea to keep a check on your speed – unchecked, it simply goes past 160 kph, rock solid and smooth, not even a tremor to indicate its speed. The Ikon can handle these speeds easily, but I strongly believe that anything above 120 kph on an Indian road is asking for trouble. Even in the excellent Bangalore Chennai highway, there are these guys who come against you on your side of the road with their “wide body jumbos” – the ubiquitous TVS 50 carrying wide loads. Not to mention bullock carts and trucks. So I am very cautious especially on these new highways.

Town driving is superb too. This is the 10 kph to 60 kph band. Quick acceleration, ability to handle potholes and ripples, and precise steering all contribute to a sporty feeling even in town traffic. But the steering is quite heavy in town use. The quick acceleration means care is to be taken especially with bikes. Moronic bike riders who stick their front wheels in front
of the Ikon in signal lights are a pain because the Ikon is much quicker and you have to frequently ride the clutch to bleed off some acceleration to prevent hitting them as they crawl off the line.

To end this song, this is a car that will grow on you. Doesn't matter if it is dated, its performance is still outstanding even by 2010 standards. I don't feel like parting with it.

Photos attached: sorry, didn't know how to put in the captions.
1) Family loves this car. Here my wife has taken the wheel for the Shimoga ghats stretch.
2) The Ikon revels in this kind of road
3) Heading home
4) In Masinagudi

Haven't taken recent pics, will do so soon.
Attached Thumbnails
Ford Ikon 1.6 Nxt ZXI - 6 years, 72,000 kms-goa200601.jpg  

Ford Ikon 1.6 Nxt ZXI - 6 years, 72,000 kms-goa200602.jpg  

Ford Ikon 1.6 Nxt ZXI - 6 years, 72,000 kms-goa200603.jpg  

Ford Ikon 1.6 Nxt ZXI - 6 years, 72,000 kms-masinagudi2007.jpg  

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Old 27th April 2010, 14:02   #2
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Lovely report Damu. And even better narration.

Enjoyed it very much, thank you
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Old 27th April 2010, 14:14   #3
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Congratulations on reaching 6 on your pride ride.

Great write-up, I wish you many more happy miles

Enjoy and drive safe.

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Old 27th April 2010, 14:16   #4
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Damu beautiful report. Cheers from one ikon lover to another ikon lover. An Ikon lover would only understand what kind of passion you have got for this lovely beauty. Keep it up mate and my long term ownership report is also due, you have woke me up from my slumber and this week end will try to put up my report. A very well maintained car buddy. Keep it up.
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Old 27th April 2010, 14:21   #5
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I have a similar car and could relate to every word you wrote. Very Precise, just like your Ikons steering.

Of late, I dont know why, but peoples collective memory has wiped out the Ikon 1.6, so they get surprised when the see an Ikon sprinting. A friend of mine overheard a discussion in disbelief about how fast the Ikon is and its so hard to catch up with, and to his surprise the Ikon in question was mine. They were oblivious to the 1.6 moniker at the tail of the car.

After almost 75k in 5.5 yrs, the car does not even let out a small rattle. Its as tight as before.

I recently had to replace the radiator fan, cost me 6.5k. Some other expenses related to use are also lined up. But I dont mind, will keep this car longer.
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Old 27th April 2010, 14:24   #6
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Hi damu,

Wonderful report for you 1.6 ikon. I have 1.3Flair and can relate to the feel and experience of being in the IKon and driving it tough on the corner. I recently did a hyd-blr-yercaud trip and absolutely loved the thorough steering feedback and stability at high speeds.Though I only stretched my car to 140kmph but still there was enough left in it to take the speedo till 150-160kmph but the 1.3 engine does take a lot of time to reach those figures.
Your ownership cost looks good.
This write up needs some more pics. Have great time ahead.
And I have the same colour as you

Last edited by Fordmanchau : 27th April 2010 at 14:26.
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Old 27th April 2010, 14:24   #7
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Wonderful report Damu! Enjoyed reading every word of it.

Shows your love for the vehicle.

Nice pics too!!

Happy mile munching
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Old 27th April 2010, 14:47   #8
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Very well written report! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on one of India's most under-rated car.

I also own a Ikon (1.3 Nxt;6 Yrs;70K+ Kms) and I couldn't agree more with your report, except on the maintenance part Mine drained me! But then I don't mind.

It's always nice to see the Ikon having some fans!

Here's my report: (Only An Icon Can Stand Next To The Ikon - Ford Fiesta Report)http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/test-drives-initial-ownership-reports/72701-only-icon-can-stand-next-ikon-ford-fiesta-report.html
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Old 27th April 2010, 15:44   #9
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Welcome Dam.....

That was an awesome report. You can get yourself a new car but don't ever think of selling the Ikon.

I guess you were referring to the Air Conditioning of my car. I had a AC Divertor Valve failure on my car about a month ago. Got it replaced immediately. This is THE most common part that packs up on the Ikon. The hot air coming in from the AC duct is a regular with my car too but it happens only with a hot engine. No such issues with a cold engine.

A colleague bought a 3rd owner 2005 Ikon 1.6 Nxt thats run 38000km from Classic Motors in Whitefield. I did the review for the car and gave him the go ahead to buy it. He paid 2.7lac. Its a high price but my colleague wanted it no matter what after the drive. The Air Conditioning on this car is noisy too. The car was suffering from iregular idling. Took the car to Lingarapuram and introduced Harish to the car and he rectified the problem. Errors were seen in the ECU so a Reset was carried out. Some part needed replacement too in connection with the idling problem. Cost was around Rs. 1800 & Harish has done a fantastic job.

My suspension has seen its days. It had when I bought the car. I am saving up to do a full over haul as the car is too soft right now. Handling is off and the suspension is always hitting the end of its travel when I hit a pot hole that an Ikon should normally obsorb with ease.

My brakes are a nightamre. I plan on asking Harish to take a look at it when I do the suspension job, bleed the entire system and pour in a brand new supply of Brake Fluid. My disc brake pads, a pair of disc rotors, one rear master cylinder was replaced during the first major service job I had done on the car but they seem to have faded in under 5000km.

Otherwise my baby is running great too. No problems after I did a full job at Metro Ford, Lingarapuram. Since its running a free flow exhaust & K&N the noise is another trip but it gets annoying at speeds above 100Kmph. At 150Kmph its too noisy.

Last edited by sandeepmohan : 27th April 2010 at 15:48. Reason: Forgot to add some more
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Old 27th April 2010, 16:50   #10
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Nice review Damu, I agree with most of your points.My car is 9 years old, run 94000 kms. And still love the way it handles.. just cant let go of this car! I have very identical FE over the past 9 years. I got the clutch replaced 6 months back ever since i am not happy with my FE. may be its the traffic or the clutch itself. even the gear shifts are not as smooth as it used to be. Earlier i used to average 10-11 in city and 14 on highways.
I upgraded the front struts to the diesel ikon ones, they are little more stiffer and goes well with my ikon. Now i am thinking of going for a complete paint job..and the sxi bumper ..but scared I might loose the factory finish.
Seems many problems in your car are the same as mine. even my indicator switch is not working.. i have to activate it manually.
One thing i have learnt is that the spare parts quality has come down a lot in a bid to cut costs. i change parts only if it is absolutely necessary..
Other wise i love the ikon..
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Old 27th April 2010, 17:10   #11
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Lovely review, brother. I know what you are talking about. Apart from the brakes and AC, all other things are great in the 1.6 Ikon.

Continue to treat her well and wish you many more miles to be crunched with her.
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Old 27th April 2010, 17:55   #12
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Very nicely written review. Ikon 1.6 is a real pleasure to drive.
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Old 27th April 2010, 20:40   #13
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Damu, thanks for a wonderful writeup on your Ikon. As a fellow-Ikon owner, i can totally relate to the feelings and experiences you mention, except for the top-end whack part.. since mine is a 1.3 L engine.

The usual Ikon bugs have visited my Ikon as well, which include the AC divertor valve, and ignition coil, but i already knew how to address them at minimal cost since this has already been attended to by many fellow owners.

Do update this thread on a regular basis, and do add some recent snaps as well.
Rating this review as well, since this is one straight from the heart.
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Old 28th April 2010, 07:34   #14
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Hey, Damu, such a great review!

6 years ? The gleaming beauty doesn't look more than 6 weeks old .

I am enjoying my Ikon too, even in its 8th year. Not intending to sell it.

Unfortunately, a cement mixer unloaded some cement close to my Ikon last year, and the resulting cement mist enveloped my beauty. I rushed out and cleaned it off with a lot of struggle. But, even to this day, the body needs cleaning too frequently, as it becomes rough within a few hours of cleaning. Maybe I need to re polish / wax it ?

The other issue is regarding the front mud flaps, which allow mud to get sprayed on the lower parts of the front doors. Going by all the Ikons around me, it seems to be a part of the Ikon package ! Has anyone installed aftermarket front mud flaps here ? Metro Ford has been helpless, whenever I ask them.

Wishing you many more years of happy drives !
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Old 28th April 2010, 07:43   #15
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Originally Posted by mooza View Post
Maybe I need to re polish / wax it ?

The other issue is regarding the front mud flaps, which allow mud to get sprayed on the lower parts of the front doors.
A polish job will help.

Nothing much you can do about the mud flaps. You have to clean them as soon as you are done with the drive.
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