Ford Aspire Review: Petrol and Diesel
Ford’s long overdue replacement for the obsolete Classic is a sedan that is all set to venture into India’s highly lucrative sub-4 metre segment. With a fresh design language, numerous features, and a proven powertrain lineup, Ford Figo Aspire is vying to trounce its established rivals in a battle that is getting fiercer every passing day.
Ford has showcased the vehicle all around the country so we already knew pretty much everything there is to know about the new compact sedan in town. Not to mention the leaked specifications. Nonetheless, we went all the way to the lake city of Udaipur, curious to know if Ford has left the driver-focused charm of the original Figo intact. Here is our Ford Figo Aspire Review!
To put it plainly, old Figo’s mundane and conservative design has gotten long in the tooth and that reflects on its recent sales performance. Fortunately, Ford’s designers have tred along an entirely different path for the new product which is in line with the brand’s global design philosophy.
End result is a modern looking compact sedan that really mounts pressure on fellow contenders. The Aston Martin-esque trapezoidal front grille with horizontal chrome slats form the core design element which is surrounded by generously proportioned peeled-back headlamps, a trough shaped secondary airdam, slit of a tertiary air dam and circular foglamps in black housing (we are glad that Ford didn’t use chrome here). A heavily contoured bonnet with a power bulge adds to the sporty character of the front end design.
Profile is where most compact sedans take a hit in the proportions department since the designers are forced to cram in a third box without exceeding a body length of 4 m but with Figo Aspire, Ford has done an excellent job. The flat roofline is supported by smoothly tapering A and C pillars, and the stubby boot is integrated without calling for disproportion. Pronounced waistline, along with subtle contour on the lower part of the doors and a chrome front fender ornament, makes for a dynamic appeal. Having said that, 14-inch wheels are a size too small for a car that has a ground clearance of 174 mm.
Coming to the rear, a sophisticated wraparound combination lamps, chrome strip (only on higher variants), a subtle hint of integrated spoiler, and bumper-mounted license plate enclosure round off the exterior design. To sum it up, Ford Figo Aspire is arguably the best looking car in its segment.
Figo Aspire’s positive attributes don’t end with its exterior aesthetics. The first few seconds spent in the cabin is enough to know that a lot of effort has gone into making it stand out among the rest. For starters, the dashboard design derives heavy inspiration from EcoSport and Fiesta. A black-beige color theme is sure to find takers in India.
The chunky three spoke multifunction steering and hexagonal centre console (both sporting piano black inserts) with an array of buttons and infotainment screen (or smartphone dock depending on the variant) are the highlights of the dashboard. You also get a simple instrument console and an auto AC console with chrome finished knurled dials.
Ford has now adopted RHD-spec indicator and wiper stalk configuration, highlighting the importance of our market. The multifunction switch on the right side of the dashboard for headlights, foglights and boot release is a nice touch. In general, the overall quality of the switch gears is impressive, certainly adding to the feel good factor of the interior. The material and build quality are at par with the best in the segment if not better.
Figo Aspire’s cabin offers as many 20 storage solutions including bottle holders, door pockets, cub holders and cubby holes. A small storage compartment on the right edge of the dashboard, which can be accessed only when the driver side door is open, is something which we haven’t seen before.
The front seats are adequately comfortable for a person with thin frame but a heavily built person may feel it’s a tad too small. Cushioning is on the softer side and there is nothing to complain about thigh or lumbar support. Side bolstering too is adequate, again for a slim person. Sound driver ergonomics means you are less prone to fatigue even on a long journey.
The airy and roomy feel is carried forward to the rear seats too. The bench has good squab length so thigh support is decent. Seatback inclination is optimum and knee room is excellent owing to scooped front seats. However, you can’t really use the space underneath the front seats to keep your feet. Light color theme and large day light opening are added plus.
Features and safety
Ford is counting on its lengthy features list to ambush the rivals. The top-end Titanium Plus variant comes loaded with first-in-class 6 airbags, hill launch assist (only on petrol AT), ABS with EBD, ESP, perimeter alarm, SYNC 2 multimedia infotainment system with 4 speakers, Blutooth, USB and Aux-in connectivity, MyKey (parental control on top-speed limit and seat belt reminder), automatic climate control, electrically adjustable ORVMs (foldable), front and rear power windows, alloy wheels, foglamps and so on.
Engine and gearbox
Figo Apsire will offer a choice of two petrol engines. The volume spinner is expected to be the 1.2-litre four-cylinder Ti-VCT unit which is essentially the same motor as the old Figo but with variable valve timing for increased output. The motor puts out 88 PS at 6,300 rpm and 112 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. It comes mated only to a 5-speed manual transmission.
The second petrol engine is a the EcoSport-derived 1.5-litre unit which is exclusively available with the 6-speed PowerShift dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Power and torque outputs stand at 112 PS at 6,300 rpm and 136 Nm at 4,250 rpm respectively. We are yet to sample this motor.
Coming back to the 1.2-litre mill, it settles into a very refined idle with hardly any vibration or noise creeping into the cabin. It remains smooth even under load and voices out a sporty note when the revs rise.
As long as the progress is sedate, the power delivery and driveability are adequate but when additional power is summoned, the engine simply feels helpless, especially on highways. Kicking down a cog, or even two, doesn’t guarantee enough grunt to sail past the traffic. This can be frustrating during overtaking maneuvers which need some serious planning.
In a nutshell, the 1.2-litre petrol motor is underpowered for highway usage. That said, its reasonably responsive after 3,000 rpm and feels the best between 4,000 – 5,000 rpm. The car cruises at around 110-120 kmph with reasonable ease, without any engine noise in the cabin.
The 5-speed gearbox is very easy to use, thanks to short throws and light clutch. We think, a slightly shorter third and fourth gear ratios could have helped extract more from the engine in terms of in-gear acceleration but Ford’s engineers seem to have focused more on fuel economy.
On the other hand, Aspire diesel variant left a lasting impression. You can feel the power and torque right from the start. The 1.5-litre TDCI motor puts out 100 PS at 3,750 rpm and 215 Nm of torque at 1,700 – 3,000 rpm. It is this this torque which plays a major role in the impressive performance dished out by the diesel Aspire.
Acceleration is best-in-class (0-100 kmph in under 11 seconds), and you can feel the punch even in the fourth gear. But if you are not in the mood to drive enthusiastically, the car does not disappoint. For eg, in third gear, and at speeds of 20 kmph, the engine breathes without choking. This makes Aspire diesel effortless in traffic jams or slow moving city traffic.
Though the torque peaks in the range of 1750-3000 rpm, the engine feels lively from 1250-4000 rpm (redlines just below 4500 rpm). This wide range allows overtaking without down-shifting most of the times. Top speed of the diesel variant is over 180 kmph and if you are wondering what is a decent speed at which you can cruise, sample this – 160 kmph, 3500 rpm, fifth gear. This itself speaks a lot about the engine.
Mileage and Emissions
The 1.2-litre Ti-VCT has an ARAI mileage of 18.2 km/l and an emission of 130 g/km of CO2. During our test run, we managed to extract a combined fuel efficiency of 11.2 kmpl with a heavy right foot all the time.
The 1.5-litre diesel motor delivers an ARAI rated FE of 25.8 kmpl despite the punchy performance on offer. The motor also is low on emission as suggested by the claimed figure of 102 g/km of CO2.
Ride, handling and braking
Old Ford Figo was loved for its excellent ride and handling package and fortunately, Ford has kept this quality intact. Independent Mcpherson struts upfront with anti-roll bars, and semi-independent rear torsion beams with gas and oil shock absorbers are very well damped. Be it straight line stability or composure around long, winding, high speed corners, Figo Aspire will not disappoint. The beautifully tuned chassis is easily capable more performance than the petrol engine could offer.
The electric power steering with Pull Drift Compensation technology (nullifies the kick backs due to road imperfections) is responsive, direct and has a good feel. A wee bit more weight at higher speeds would have been nice but mind you, the steering system would keep most of the driving enthusiasts happy.
Braking is courtesy of ventilated front discs and rear drums. Higher variants offer ABS with EBD which eliminates any drama that may arise during panic braking. The pedal feel is positive and the initial bite is reassuring. Overall, Figo Aspire scores high in dynamic department which should appeal to both mind and heart.
Noise, vibration and harshness
The petrol variant revs all the way up to redline in a vibe-free manner. Apart from a sporty note at higher revs, rear seat occupants are constantly subjected to a muted gargle from the exhaust at city speeds which may get boring after a while. The engine is quiet under cruising and the speed is masked very effectively. Wind and tyre noises can be heard inside the cabin but are well within acceptable limits.
Ford Figo Aspire Diesel Engine Noise – Video
The diesel engine too is refined by the segment standards and makes for comfortable and peaceful highway journeys.
Ford Figo Aspire is not only a good looking compact sedan inside out but it also has sound mechanical behavior and built quality. Space on offer is excellent, features are upmarket and practicality is satisfying. We were actually hard pressed to find fault with the overall package which is compelling and full of strong selling points.
What Ford needs to do is avoid doing a Fiesta with the prices and come up with an attractive range. However, higher variants would be sold at a slight premium over the rivals, considering the level of equipment.
To summarize it, Figo Aspire is indeed an aspirational package which ticks most of the boxes. With right kind of pricing, it has the ability to exert some serious pressure on segment leading Swift Dzire. Ford India’s continued efforts to beef up its after sales service should also contribute to the new car’s long term success.