Ford Figo Aspire Expert Review

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Introduction

Ford Figo Aspire
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Ford Aspire

Comfortable, Spacious and presentable, Ford’s Aspire has a lot going for it. However, the lack of petrol engines and a full equipment list hasn't helped its case.  The diesel Aspire though won a fan following of enthusiasts thanks to its lively nature and driving dynamics.  But now the facelifted Aspire gets a new gearbox for the diesel and a new petrol engine - the lively 1.2-litre Dragon from the Freestyle. Does the new petrol engine finally make the Aspire petrol an option worth considering? And with the market again shifting towards petrol, has Ford played it smart by giving importance to petrol engines again?

Ford Aspire

Pros
  • Comfortable ride quality gobbles up potholes and broken surfaces
  • Well-loaded lower variants. You don't need to spend big bucks to get a well-loaded car
  • Clutch, steering and gear action is light. Makes it super easy to drive inside the city
  • Punchy diesel engine is sure to put a smile on your face. Among the most fun to drive small sedans
Cons
  • Headroom continues to be an issue, especially for those around 6ft tall
  • Missing features such as projector headlamps, daytime running lamps, leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • No top-spec petrol automatic on offer. No diesel-auto combo either

Stand Out Features

  •  Emergency assist: In case of a mishap, the SYNC 3 system automatically sends your GPS location to emergency services through a connected smartphone. 

     Emergency assist: In case of a mishap, the SYNC 3 system automatically sends your GPS location to emergency services through a connected smartphone. 

  • 6.5-inch touchscreen is among the best in class. Easy to use, snappy response and great clarity. 

    6.5-inch touchscreen is among the best in class. Easy to use, snappy response and great clarity. 

  • Side and curtain airbags are exclusive to the Aspire in this segment. 

    Side and curtain airbags are exclusive to the Aspire in this segment. 

CarDekho Verdict

The Aspire diesel was preferred over the petrol for its exciting driving dynamics. But with the new 1.2-litre petrol, Ford has truly multiplied Aspire’s abilities as it now delivers the Ford experience while keeping everyday needs firmly in focus. Moreover, no other car in its segment offers a petrol engine that is as powerful. Its main rival, the Maruti Suzuki Dzire makes 83PS compared to the Aspire’s 96PS. The K-series trumps Aspire’s TiVCT in terms of refinement. But, Aspire offers a strong mid-range (2500-3000rpm) whereas Dzire relies on top end power (4000-6000rpm). It is also engaging and fun to drive. 

Ford Aspire

Yes, it doesn’t offer the bragging rights of DRLs and projector headlamps but provides all that matters. You get a touchscreen infotainment system and climate control Trend+ onwards, along with ABS, dual airbags and rear parking sensors as standard. In the top-end variant it gets side and curtain airbags, SYNC3 (easily the best infotainment system in its segment) and a reversing camera. Plus, you get a car that can be a breeze to drive in the city and is fun in the corners. And with a starting price of Rs 5.55 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), the Aspire is lighter on the pocket than the outgoing model. The pricing of the petrol Trend+ variant is similar to the older Trend variant and the new Trend+ is a massive step up from it.   

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Exterior

Ford Aspire

The 2018 Ford Aspire is an updated version of the car it replaces. The headlamps are similar to the ones we’ve seen on the freestyle. The silver headlamp surrounds have been binned in favour of a smoked finish. There’s a generous amount of chrome on the front grille which is now sleeker and features a honeycomb-type pattern. And then, thanks to some more chrome on the bumper, the car looks more premium. But we think, going by its sporty nature, an all-black grille would’ve worked better. Overall, the proportions are the same and the familiarity does work in the car’s favour. At the rear, it gets updated taillamps with revised detailing and a redesigned bumper.

Ford Aspire

It also gets 15-inch wheels compared to 14-inch ones of the old car. These, however, are available with the Titanium variants only. The 15-inch wheels do add a bit of muscle to the car and give it a more upmarket appeal.

Ford Aspire

Exterior Comparison

Hyundai Xcent Maruti Dzire Honda Amaze Ford Aspire
Length (mm) 3995 3995 3995 3995
Width (mm) 1660 1735 1695 1695
Height (mm) 1520 1515 1501 1525
Ground Clearance (mm) 165 163 170 174
Wheel Base (mm) 2425 2450 2470 2490
Kerb Weight (kg) - 980 1023 1053-1080
 

Boot Space Comparison

Honda Amaze Ford Aspire Maruti Dzire Hyundai Xcent
Volume 420Liters - 378-liters 407-litres

Interior

Ford Aspire

The cabin, though not heavily updated, does get some new nifty features. The variant we drove was the top-of-the-line Titanium+ trim which now gets the new SYNC3 touchscreen infotainment system along with rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlamps. Buyers will be happy to note that Ford offers a touchscreen infotainment system and climate control from the Trend+ variant onwards. But SYNC3 is reserved for the Titanium+ variant only. The Titanium+ also gets two USB ports, while only one is offered from Ambiente to Titanium. In terms of safety, dual front airbags, ABS with EBD and rear parking sensors are offered as standard.

Ford Aspire

The SYNC3 system works seamlessly and features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The touch is intuitive and the touch interface, coupled with physical buttons makes it relatively easier to operate while driving. Front seats are comfortable and offer better lumbar support than before. There is ample room in the rear to seat two adults in comfort and you now get adjustable headrests as standard too.

Ford Aspire

However, anyone over six feet in height will feel constrained for headroom and the narrow footwells up front also can be an issue for taller occupants, especially on the passenger side. The reason for that is the larger AC compressor that takes up quite a bit of room up front, eating into the footwell width. There are also no rear door pockets which are a big miss. On the bright side however, you do get a manically powerful AC which negates the need for rear AC vents.

Ford Aspire

Performance

Ford Aspire

The biggest change in the updated Aspire are the new petrol powertrains. Ford’s compact sedan now comes with the Dragon series petrol engines. The 1.5-litre TDCi diesel engine has been carried forward as is. So we will be focusing more on the new petrol powertrains.

Ford Aspire

The Dragon series 1.2- and 1.5-litre petrol engines have been carried over from the Freestyle and the EcoSport. The 1.5-litre engine makes 123PS of power and 150Nm of torque but it’s available with the 6-speed AT gearbox only. The 2018 Ford Aspire facelift we drove had the 1.2-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine that produces 96PS of max power and 120Nm of torque, which makes it one of the most powerful engines in its class. It is mated to a new Getrag 5-speed gearbox which, according to Ford, assists in providing a better fuel economy than before.

Ford Aspire

Although, it does need to be revved if you want to have fun, but the sweet spot lies just above 3000rpm that is not only approachable but also more forgiving on the consumption front. You only need to rev it all the way up to 6000rpm if you really intend to test the limits of the vehicle. At sedate speeds, it is equally well mannered and there is ample torque available to perform quick overtaking manoeuvres. Then there is the 5-speed gearbox that feels like a treat to use. The shifts are precise and the clutch is light. Third gear again, like for the diesel, is the car’s sweet spot where it can pull from 20kmph to 120kmph with ease.

Ford Aspire

The 1.5-litre diesel, on the other hand, makes a sprightly 100PS of max power and 215Nm of torque. This engine gets a new Getrag 5-speed gearbox too. Let’s talk about the diesel first. It retains its punchy nature and accelerates like a bullet as soon as the needle goes past the 1800rpm mark. Its acceleration is relentless and the 215Nm of torque makes itself felt in more ways than one. You can be in any gear and a gentle push on the throttle is all that’s needed to propel the car forward. Out on the highway, you can leave it in 5th and not worry about shifting down even if the speed drops to the lower fifties. You can also power out of corners in a gear higher than you normally would and the Aspire always responds with a bucketful of torque

Ford Aspire

The new Getrag transmission feels light and precise. Effort while shifting is minimal, though you do need to get used to the collar for putting into reverse. It is at its most versatile in third as it will pull from 30 to 110kmph with ease. It is equally comfortable sitting at triple-digit speeds and a dab of the right foot is enough to perform even the most unplanned of overtaking manoeuvres.It is still a treat to drive with ample torque at your disposal.

Ford Aspire

Ride and handling

Ford Aspire  

Simply put, the ride is a considerable improvement over the old car. The upsized wheels on the Titanium do help in gliding over bumps. Both the petrol and diesel variants feel planted most of the time. All undulations are tackled with ease and there is little that can upset them. Even the rougher sections of road will pose little threat to the balanced suspension setup of the Aspire.

Ford Aspire

There are a few niggles though, the footwell feels a bit vibey, especially north of 80kmph. The rear feels a bit floaty at high speeds as well. The feeling is not intrusive or a deal breaker but it is present. There is a fair amount of tyre noise too that tends to creep into the cabin. This becomes especially prominent on rough tarmac, so state highways can be a noisy affair. In addition, you feel the vibe rather than hear them. Although, music does provide a good distraction.

Ford Aspire

The steering on both cars is quite sharp and precise. Turn ins are precise and you have decent feel from the tyres as well. The petrol, though, feels lighter than the diesel to chuck into corners. The driving experience overall is quite lively and a rare mix of a good ride and fun driving dynamics.

Ford Aspire

Performance Comparison (Diesel)

Honda Amaze Hyundai Xcent Maruti Dzire Ford Aspire
Power 98.6bhp@3600rpm 73.97bhp@4000rpm 73.75bhp@4000rpm 98bhp@3750rpm
Torque (Nm) 200Nm@1750rpm 190.24nm@1750-2250rpm 190Nm@2000rpm 215Nm@1750-3000rpm
Engine Displacement (cc) 1498 1186 1248 1498
Transmission Manual Manual Manual Manual
Top Speed (kmph) 170 Kmph 156 Kmph - -
0-100 Acceleration (sec) 17 Seconds 15.35 Seconds 13.03 Seconds -
Kerb Weight (kg) 1023kg - 980kg 1053-1080kg
Fuel Efficiency (ARAI) 27.4kmpl 25.4kmpl 28.4kmpl 26.1kmpl
Power Weight Ratio 96.38318670576734 bhp/ton - 75.25510204081633 bhp/ton 93.06742640075974 bhp/ton

Performance Comparison (Petrol)

Hyundai Xcent Maruti Dzire Ford Aspire Honda Amaze
Power 81.86bhp@6000rpm 81.80bhp@6000rpm 94.68bhp@6500rpm 86.76bhp@6000rpm
Torque (Nm) 113.75nm@4000rpm 113Nm@4200rpm 120Nm@4250rpm 110Nm@4800rpm
Engine Displacement (cc) 1197 1197 1194 1199
Transmission Manual Manual Manual Manual
Top Speed (kmph) 172 Kmph - - 140 Kmph
0-100 Acceleration (sec) 14.2 Seconds 12.6 Seconds - 15 Seconds
Kerb Weight (kg) - 885kg 1016-1043kg 921kg
Fuel Efficiency (ARAI) 20.14kmpl 22.0kmpl 19.4kmpl 19.5kmpl
Power Weight Ratio 921kg 92.42937853107344 bhp/ton 93.18897637795276 bhp/ton 94.20195439739413 bhp/ton
 

Safety

On the safety front, the Figo Aspire is the only compact sedan to get 6 airbags in the top-spec Titanium+ variant. Dual airbags are standard across the range. It also gets ABS with EBD; and with the automatic, the Ford is equipped with hill-launch assist, traction control and ESP as well.

Variants

The Figo Aspire is offered in a total of 4 variants. The base variant is a no-frills version, but does get the essentials such as air-conditioning and dual airbags covered. The Ambiente variant also gets front power windows, rear fog lamps and auto-locking doors. If you are on an absolute budget, pick the Ambiente since it has a basic safety net in place, save for ABS.

The Trend variant gets some good features like front fog lamps, electrically adjustable wing mirrors and a 4-speaker audio system with steering mounted controls. It also gets indicators on the wing-mirrors and rear power windows.

The Titanium spec adds ABS with EBD, alloy wheels, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, power folding ORVMs and in the automatic version, gets ESP, HLA and traction control too. The top-spec Titanium+ variant is fully-loaded, getting goodies such as a side and curtain airbags, a 4.2-inch screen for the music system and voice commands as well.

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*Ex-showroom price

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