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Thursday, August 6, 2015 Science

Comprehensive review of the new Ford Figo Aspire.


Nobody can say that they don’t love the luxurious yet sporty design on budget cars. If you are one among them, then this is the right time! This is because Ford has something surprising in its magic hat and we expect Ford to let out the Aston Martinesque rabbit this August.

Yes, we are talking about the new sub 4-metre sedan from Ford, the Figo Aspire to compete with the likes of Maruti Swift Dzire, Hyundai Xcent, Tata Zest & Honda Amaze. Last time when Ford launched its first ever hatchback the Figo, it became an instant hit because it had the first mover advantage. The Figo was in the size of the Swift, yet at a significantly lower price which made it an instant hit among the Indian audience. After that the EcoSport came in, which changed the fortunes of Ford overnight. The car had a dream run and had huge waiting periods ranging from 6 to 10 months depending upon the variant you choose from!

In India, there are two hot segments – the compact Sedan and the compact SUV. The EcoSport had ruled the roost since its launch and it still is, because it had the segment's first mover advantage. But in the compact sedan segment, there is an undisputed king - the Swift Dzire! The battle has grown fiercer with many capable offerings and even after that, the Dzire could not be dethroned.  In fact, the Dzire sells more than all other compact sedans’ combined sales each month. So can this David take on the Goliath?


1) Design& Build

The Figo Aspire is already late to the party and doesn't have the first mover advantage. So, Ford has done some significant homework to tick all the right boxes for an Indian car buyer.

Exterior

Design well, and it is already half the battle won! Ford knows this mantra and has played well with the Aston Martin-like design language. The front looks striking! The big swept back head lamps, the horizontally placed four slat chrome grille, the conventional round fog lamps and the power bulge on the bonnet with the blue oval logo placed neatly on the nose make the Aspire look handsome.

The side profile is accompanied by large windows with a strong shoulder line and a fuel filler cap. The side profile makes the car look short, but the boot is well integrated with the body and doesn't look weird like the Dzire. The rear looks good too with its horizontal tail lamps interconnected by a chrome line with a Ford logo slapped at the middle and these make up the good bits.


There are some noticeable bad bits too. The alloys don’t look that great and there is an empty space in the fenders where the turn indicators are supposed to be. Also, the chrome line connecting the tail lamps should’ve been a bit wider in order to blend well with its design. Anyway, nobody is perfect in this world and apart from that; this is a stunning looking sub-4 meter sedan!


Interior

The exterior looks stylish and sporty and so does the interior. Actually it is a much familiar dashboard layout carried over from the Fiesta and the Ecosport, but with a black and beige theme. The plastics feel soft to touch and the centre console carries a piano black finish with mobile phone inspired buttons for the audio player which looks and feels great. The gear lever is wrapped with faux leather and the steering wheel which is typical of Ford, feels nice to hold too. The door pads and seats also carry the beige colour with black inserts. This colour combination lends the car a premium feel. The usage of lighter colours make the cabin airy and also feels bigger than it actually is.


The text in the dials looks a bit small, but very clear and easy to read on the go. The icy blue tint on the dials look good in the dark.


Build Quality

The car is built like a typical Ford, but the door doesn't weigh that much resulting in a cheap click instead of a loud thud when closed. It has lost its weight here and there; still it is well built for its segment. The paint quality is fantastic though, having rich depth. The panel gaps are very tight and all parts are built to last and don’t seem to fall off.


2) Comfort and convenience

The front seats feel very comfy and provide great levels of support and cushioning, so long drives won’t be a problem. The rear seats are cushy and also have adequate room for three abreast and also have an integrated arm rest with cup holders. The transmission tunnel hump is low thus generating more space for the third passenger. There is enough thigh support and head room too. The front seats are carved out at the back thus generating more legroom for rear passengers. There is also enough space under the front seats which makes the chauffeur-driven community even happier.


The boot is fairly big with 359 litres capacity and gets features like remote tailgate opener and boot light. There are lots of storage spaces inside the cabin, or what we colloquially call as cubby holes. The door pads in the front and at the rear can hold two 1-litre bottles and still have some space left for the knick-knacks!  The glove box is reasonably big and there are ticket holders in the driver as well as co-driver sun visors. The co-driver sun visor has a mirror as well! There is also a secret storage space in the dashboard which can be accessed only when the driver opens the door, nice thinking!

The wiper and indicator stalks have interchanged their positions to suit the Indian taste. There are cup holders and 12V socket near the gear lever as well. The rear parcel tray holds sufficient things too. There is also a rubberized place beneath the audio controls for storing your mobile phone which prevents falling off while taking sharp turns.


3) Equipment

Ford offers endless list of features which include 2-DIN music player with mobile phone inspired controls, AUX, USB connectivity, dock able holder for mobile in case of Trend, Ambient and Titanium variants and monochrome display in case of Titanium+ variant!


There are more such as Climate control AC, auto door locks with speed sense, steering-mounted audio controls, Bluetooth connectivity with integrated accept/reject call button, leather upholstery(segment first), fog lamps, key-less entry, ORVM mounted turn indicators which are electrically adjustable.

The most important and significant feature is Ford My-Key which can be useful to record information such as driving speed, audio controls and seat belt warning, when configured doesn't allow others to go beyond the programmed levels. For example, the speed never crosses the pre-set speed and so does the audio volume!

Satellite Navigation and Reverse camera are however offered as optional across all variants which can be fitted at the dealer level.


4) Heart and its capability

Ford offers three engine options

  - A 1.2 liter 4-cylinder petrol engine producing 88PS power and 112Nm of torque

This is the same engine that we are already familiar with the Figo hatch, however in a different state of tune. The engine now drives better, has very good refinement and NVH levels too. The engine provides adequate power for usage. However, be a little enthusiastic to put your foot down and the engine roar is heard inside the cabin, but it takes its own sweet time to build up the pace. The ARAI certified mileage figures are 18.16 km/l which is not bad at all. Expect real world mileage to be somewhere around 12-13 km/l.

  - A 1.5 liter 4-cylinder petrol engine with 112PS power and 136Nm of torque(Only offered on Titanium+ automatic variant)

This engine has been paired with a 6-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox, comes with a 10year/100000kms warranty whichever is earlier. The engine-gearbox marriage has been done very well, and we would say that they are a perfect couple in moving the car forward with enthusiasm. The ARAI certified mileage is 17.2 km/l; expect 9-11 km/l mileage in real world conditions.

  - A 1.5 liter 4-cylinder diesel engine with 100PS power and 215Nm of torque

This engine is same as the one we found on the EcoSport, however in a higher state of tune now producing 100PS power. It reaches the ton very quickly and cruising at triple digit speeds won’t be a problem. You should have heard of 100PS somewhere else, right? Yes it is the Honda Amaze. This draws comparison between the two and Ford’s engine also has mileage of 25.8 km/l, a shade above what Honda has to offer and can easily deliver 17-18 km/l in ideal conditions. We would definitely pick the Ford over Honda since the lag is not evident at all!

If we had given the option to pick one among the three engine options, we would definitely pick the diesel for its drive-ability, adequate power on tap and for being low on fuel expense as well.

 

5) Driving Dynamics

Ford has always been known for its excellent driving dynamics and this car is no different. In fact, this car is the only compact sedan that has comparable driving dynamics to that of the Swift Dzire. Though sound dynamics has been compromised to get more city drivability and comfort, it is still a good handler. The car stays on road with much confidence urging you to push it around corners.

The steering wheel which is very chunky and nice to hold, is reasonably light under 60 km/hr mark for better city driving. However on the highways, the steering weighs decently and gives you the feel of being connected to the road unlike Hyundai’s, the center feel a bit numb though. The suspension setup has been a little firm, but soaks all the undulations and potholes at ease.

However, there is a difference between the petrol and diesel model. The diesel car weighs a little more than the petrol one helping a bit more in driving dynamics. The car is overall a good handler, the diesel being the best among all!


6) Safety

Since safety being a top priority on the Aspire, the prices may be slightly higher than its rivals. The tyres inspire confidence to push hard and the brakes have sufficient bite on the Non-ABS variants as well. Two airbags are offered as standard across all variants, the Titanium variant gets ABS and EBD in addition to the lower trims while the Titanium+ variant offers 6 airbags including side and curtain airbags in addition to what the Titanium variant gets!


The body shell however has not been tested anywhere. It is yet to prove its crash worthiness but given these safety features and the build quality, we guess the car can easily score 4 out of 5 stars!


7) After sales, service and spares

This is the car through which Ford is going to prove itself that its cars won’t burn a big hole in your wallet, thanks to the ‘child-parts’ strategy. For example, if have broken the ORVM on the outside, still the mirror is good, then you can replace the outer shell of the ORVM alone, thereby saving a few bucks!

Ford’s after-sales service has so far been good in the country, so there is no need to worry about that. An extra piece of information, Ford has more sales and service outlets than what Honda has in India!

Warranty – Ford offers 2 years/1, 00,000 kms whichever is earlier!


7) Verdict

The Hyundai i20’s tagline “Uncompromise” suits this car as well and this is a perfect family sedan! Ford is yet to announce the prices. If Ford decides to undercut or price it on-par with its rivals, we’re sure that Ford has a winner in its hands! 


Update

Ford India has launched the car today (Aug 12, 2015), the same day as when Ford's first ever car, the Model-T came off the production line in 1908, i.e.,107 years back.

The prices are as follows.

Ford Figo Aspire Petrol Prices (ex-showroom, Delhi) –

* Figo Aspire 1.2 Ti-VCT MT Ambiente – Rs. 4.90 lakhs
* Figo Aspire 1.2 Ti-VCT MT Trend – Rs. 5.77 lakhs
* Figo Aspire 1.2 Ti-VCT MT Titanium – Rs. 6.67 lakhs
* Figo Aspire 1.2 Ti-VCT MT Titanium+ – Rs. 7.25 lakhs
* Figo Aspire 1.5 Ti-VCT AT Titanium – Rs. 7.80 lakhs

Ford Figo Aspire Diesel Prices (ex-showroom, Delhi) –

* Figo Aspire 1.5 TDCi MT Ambiente – Rs. 5.90 lakhs
* Figo Aspire 1.5 TDCi MT Trend – Rs. 6.77 lakhs
* Figo Aspire 1.5 TDCi MT Titanium – Rs. 7.67 lakhs
* Figo Aspire 1.5 TDCi MT Titanium+ – Rs. 8.25 lakhs






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