The Indian market saw a big shake up in 1990s when foreign car makers were invited with open doors to the country. Ford was among the first few to enter in 1997 and although the Blue Oval has been in the country since almost two decades now, they haven’t been able to dominate with a significant market share. This is set to change as the company brought in the Figo, got a terrific response and decided to invest more money in India. Then the EcoSport came, an even bigger success and more and more Indians brought home their first Ford. Now the American automaker is set to launch the Figo Aspire, a car which will further boost Ford’s sales numbers in India as it sits in the highly competitive yet volume churning compact sedan space. Has Ford nailed it yet again? A drive around Udaipur helps us get our answer.
STYLING AND DESIGN
The compact sedan segment generally has cars which look like more of a compromise. Good looks takes a back seat here. Thats not the cars with the Ford Figo Aspire, though. This one is a very good looking car. The Ford Figo Aspire is based on Ford’s Kinetic Design 2.0. The bonnet or boot are neither too long nor short. The front design is similar to other new Fords like the Fiesta and Mondeo. There is a prominent swag line that runs across the car. The glass area is small so the car looks larger. This also makes it look well balanced and not too tall. The boot design too is good with a chrome strip that is well proportionate. Its not too flashy not too thin. The car looks premium ever from the rear.
COMFORT AND CABIN
The interior of the Aspire definitely looks neat while the dashboard design is almost identical to the Ecosport or the recently launches Fiesta’s dash including the steering wheel, part of the central dash and also the information screen placed on top. The interior has been finished in duel colors which include Black and Beige while the higher variants also get some silver inserts to them. The instrument cluster gets the same blue backlit treatment which looks good at night. The rest of the dashboard looks premium while the round air vents towards the side of the dash looks good what makes them so are the chrome detailing.
What is good about the interior is the fact that there are plenty of storage spaces inside the car which comes in handy especially during long journeys. The seats too look comfortable while the top end Titanium+ trim also features leather upholstery which also is segment first. Obviously what is disappointing is the fact that the rear seat passengers might feel uncomfortable because of the transmission tunnel that runs through the middle but the rear seat offers a arm rest which is a good thing. Ford has also provided Ford’s SYNC infotainment system with the top end trim, while the mid trim features My Ford Dock and also steering mounted controls along with USB and Bluetooth connectivity.
ENGINE AND GEARBOX
The Ford Figo Aspire will be available with two petrol and one diesel engine options. The 1.2-litre four cylinder petrol and the 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel will come mated to the five-speed manual gearbox, while the 1.5-litre petrol will be available with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The 1.5-litreTDCi diesel is tuned to produce 99bhp and 215Nm of torque making it the most powerful car in the segment, marginally higher than the Honda Amaze. At standstill and low speeds, the engine is harsh and there is prominent clatter in the cabin, also a light buzz can be felt on the steering wheel and pedals. The harshness goes down as the rpm increases and engine feels pretty smooth over 2,000 rpm. We are however willing to live with it for the kind of performance it has to offer. The car is quick, getting to 100kph is easy and cruising in triple digits even more so. There is no turbo lag and the healthy bottom-end torque helps quickly getting from 60kph to 100kph without downshifting to the fourth gear. The clutch is light and easy to use even in the city traffic, though the gear shifts require a little extra effort. The ARAI efficiency of the diesel car is rated at 25.83kpl and we managed to get 15.5kpl in our test drive.
The petrol car on the other hand feels relatively underpowered. The Ti-CVT is good to deliver 87bhp and 112Nm, though the tuning, as expected, has been for efficiency. The engine refinement is top notch and driving around in the city is going to be comfortable. The performance isn’t too bad, it can get off-the-line quickly and there is decent midrange to get to 100kph in respectable time, but going past 120kph requires some efforts. The engine needs to be put under lot of stress, though we didn’t mind doing that since it sounds incredible at high rpms. While the ARAI efficiency of the petrol is decent as well at 18.16kpl, we expect the real time efficiency to be much lower at around 12kpl. Get more details and offers on Ford cars in Pune from Ford dealers in Pune
The 1.5-litre petrol was not part of the first drive, though we are looking forward to driving it soon. Our experience with the Fiesta AT tells us that the dual-clutch PowerShift transmission is fantastic and the 110bhp and 136Nm will feel even better in the smaller, lighter car.
RIDE AND HANDLING
When it comes to ride and handling, comfort is clearly a focus area with the Aspire. The suspension is quite plush and absorbent and bumps are ridden over so well that you stop paying attention to every pimple on the road and makes driving a bit more relaxed. On really bad sections of road, the ride does get a bit jiggly and bouncy, which is when you detect a hint of stiffness, but that’s only to be expected. What makes ride quality even nicer is that the suspension works quite silently for the most part.
Yes, it does mildly enjoy being driven hard and responds better the more you load up the suspension. But, that effortless grip, unimpeachable confidence and precise steering you get on Fords like the Fiesta is missing here. There’s a strange looseness in the steering around the straight ahead position it doesn’t have the same agility as other Fords and body roll is ever-present. The petrol version is the better of the two Aspires in the corners with a touch more on-centre steering feel and correspondingly a greater feeling of connection with the car. The brakes on both petrol and diesel Aspires, however, inspire tremendous confidence; stopping power was impressive as well and that lends a lot to the overall driving experience.
Every car from this segment offers something unique. Ford has taken its time to enter the segment and has thus made sure the Figo Aspire offers a long list if features and equipment. The car will be available in four trim levels namely — Ambiente, Trend, Titanium and Titanium+. The Ambiente trim offers a dual tone interior, adjustable front and rear headrests, front power windows, tilt adjust steering, multi information display, keyless entry, electric boot release and driver and passenger airbags. Apply car loan for Ford Figo Aspire at Carzprice
The Trend adds front fog lamps, gloss black elements, rear armrest, steering mounted controls, rear power windows, mobile phone dock and a Bluetooth stereo with four speakers. The Titanium trim also gets auto climate control, power fold mirrors, ABS with EBD and an adjustable driver seat. The Titanium+ is the fully loaded variant and it also gets segment first leather seats, the 4.2-inch information screen with the Sync feature, CD player, side and passenger airbags (very impressive and first in segment but passengers don’t get grab handles), Ford MyKey (a programmable key that when used can limit speed and stereo volume level).
All trims will be available in seven different shades — Ruby Red, Sparkling Gold, Oxford White, Tuxedo Black, Deep Impact Blue, Ingot Silver and Smoke Grey. Optional accessories like illuminated scuff plates, rear parking sensors (should have been offered as standard), mirror mounted reverse camera and GPS, ambient lighting and shark fin antenna will also be available at Ford dealerships.
The Aspire is a very impressive package which is arguably the best to drive in the segment and is incredibly spacious for a car in the sub-four-meter category. There are plenty of smart storage spaces around the cabin and they have created a smart docking station for devices at the top of the centre console to make it user-friendly for today’s consumers, with an easy to use charging port