First Drive: Ford Figo Aspire—A Car For Your Aspirations

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If you live in a city that is bustling with activity, boasts of people from across the country with no shortage of IT jobs, you are most likely aware of the accompanying parking woes too. Perhaps what you need to consider is a sub-compact sedan to ease those very troubles (A car that is less than 4-meters in length and encouraged by the government to cut congestion on Indian roads).

The sub-compact sedan culture was kicked off by Maruti Suzuki's Swift Dzire, which, when launched in 2012, didn't appeal to many.

Click here to read: 2015 Ford Figo Expert Review

Times have changed since then, and several more progressive cars have been launched thereafter, including the Hyundai Xcent, Honda Amaze and Tata Zest, which were developed especially for the Indian market.

Manufacturers are keen on this particular segment primarily due to the excise duty cut on cars that are under the 4-meter mark and sales volume. The sub-compact sedan segment is growing four-folds with the Maruti Swift Dzire being the segment leader.

Click here for the on-road price of Ford Figo Aspire

Ford's much awaited sub-compact sedan is here — the Figo Aspire. Whether it is set to become an instant hit like the EcoSport and Figo models from their stable, it remains to be seen. Does it have what it take to topple the segment leader — Swift Dzire? Let's find out, together.

Styling

One prominent attention grabbing feature is the Aston Martin inspired trapezoidal grille, which gives the Figo Aspire a bold, active and elegant appearance.

To top it off, the designers have sculpted a fine looking power dome on the hood. This draws your eye toward the grille, giving it a sporty road presence.

The swept back A-pillar and windshield, stretched headlamps with chrome accents, sculpting on the side surfaces with a bold waistline; enhances the overall visual width and aerodynamic performance.

Take a closer look at the rear and you will notice detailing on the tail lamps and a full-width chrome applique, which is sure to appeal to the Indian chromium fanatics.

Ford has also carried out subtle sculpting on the lower fascia and provided an aerodynamic chamfer instead of a spoiler to complete the sporty look.

Interior

We believe this roomy and premium interior will certainly enhance your motoring experience.

The Aspire sports a confident looking interior, which emphasizes on its quality, comfort and convenience.

With first-in-class leather seats and adjustable headrests, the front cabin is a treat for passengers who like a little stretch every now and then.

The beige and piano black dashboard creates a refined and premium environment.

Big Indian families will feel very welcome when seated at the back of the car. The rear seat can accommodate three adults comfortably seated next to each other with decent headroom too.

On the shoulder room front, some may find it to be a tight squeeze. However, considering it is a compact sedan, Ford engineers have done a pretty good job.

The Figo Aspire has a practical boot and will accommodate your holiday luggage and weekly grocery bags with ease.

Factsheet:

– Ford Figo Aspire: 359-litre

– Hyundai Xcent: 407-litre

– Honda Amaze: 400-litre

– Tata Zest: 360-litre

– Maruti Swift Dzire: 315-litre

Standout Features

This sedan's steering wheel installs confidence while driving and can be an essential feature with sudden manoeuvres.

The three-spoke steering wheel feels comfortable while the fit, finish and materials used are of superior quality.

MyFord Dock

We have all been in that situation where keeping your multitude of gadgets charged proves to be quite a challenge. Ford's MyFord Dock, a first-in-class feature, is a unique solution for storing, mounting and charging mobile phones, MP3 players and satellite navigation systems, and for integrating these devices into the car's entertainment system. When not in use, the dock can be closed out of sight.

SYNC with Applink

Sometimes basic technology is just not enough. If you are thirsty for more tech, the Figo Aspire's SYNC with AppLink, Ford's advanced in-car connectivity system is the one to go for.

This technology could be a lifesaver as well as a possible distraction. If used wisely, SYNC allows drivers to interact with their mobile devices while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

In an unfortunate incident of a vehicular collision, Emergency Assistance uses SYNC and a Bluetooth-paired phone to automatically call emergency responders and provide information about your vehicle and location.

SYNC with Applink can also access information about nearby attractions and food destinations with Explore by MapMyIndia, thereby keeping you updated with the latest cricket scores and upcoming games with ESPN Cricinfo. The secure global location-sharing app, Glympse, also lets drivers share their location.

Ford MyKey

To encourage responsible driving, the new Figo Aspire features Ford's MyKey technology. MyKey allows owners to program driving modes that encourage good driving habits, such as limiting the Aspire's top speeds, regulating audio volume and our favourite — a seatbelt minder that mutes the audio system volume and continues to chime until the front-seat occupants fasten their seatbelts.

Handy Storage

The Figo Aspire is an outright winner with specialised compartments in the door, which can hold a 1.5-litre and 1.0-litre bottle.

More storage options have been made available — three cup holders for front seat occupants, seat back pockets to hold your magazine.

There is also a secret side compartment, only accessible when the driver's door is open, that can be used to store valuables*.

*Please note: It is not advised to leave expensive items/ valuables behind in any car.

Some other standout features are the USB and Aux-in, power-folding ORVMs and automatic climate control, which enhances your overall driving experience. Ford's compact sedan pampers you to no end, and we like it.

Driveability

Let's cut to the chase, if you are looking for a fun-to-drive car, the diesel version should be your choice, as the petrol's lethargic power delivery will not suit heavy-footed driving.

On the other hand, if you are wondering if the tyres will hold up — we can assure you — the Aspire's 14-inch alloy wheels feel planted even at high speeds of 150 – 180 kph.

Powertrain combination:

1.2L Petrol manual: 88 PS, 112 Nm torque

1.5L Petrol automatic: 112 PS, 136 Nm torque

1.5L Diesel manual: 100 PS, 215 Nm torque

Mileage

Now, for the big Indian question — what about the mileage? With high-speed cornering, an aggressive pedal to the metal driving and optimal air conditioning — the diesel Aspire returned 15 kpl and the petrol version 11 kpl.

Fuel Tank Capacity (L):
Petrol - 42 | Diesel - 40

ARAI Mileage:
Petrol: 18.2 kpl | Diesel: 25.8 kpl

NVH

The NVH [Noise, Vibration, Harshness] levels could have been better. The engine noise does creep in, even from the petrol models, which is a bit unusual considering the petrol engines run a lesser compression ratio than the diesel engines.

Fact: With diesel engines, the fuel is ignited by compression only, with no external source of spark [spark plug in the case of petrol engine]. Hence, the combustion in diesel engines is more violent and spontaneous, producing higher vibrations.

Overall, the Figo Aspire is a fun-to-drive car with less clutch travel, a slick gearbox, smooth torquey diesel motor kicking in as low as 1000 rpm and most importantly, a good handling car at low and high speeds.

Competitors

Competition in this segment is really fierce with the likes of the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire (the current segment leader and the most sold car in India), Hyundai Xcent, Honda Amaze and Tata Zest. The Figo Aspire is expected to launch in August 2015.

Expected pricing:

– Aspire Petrol: INR 5 - 7 lakh
– Aspire Diesel: INR 6 - 8 lakh

Competitors Pricing:

Maruti Swift Dzire click here for on-road price

Honda Amaze click here for on-road price

Tata Zest click here for on-road price

Rating

Thumbs up:

– Handy storage spaces
– Build quality and design
– Fun-to-drive diesel model
– Plush interior (leather seats)
– Roomy cabin and air conditioning
– Standard Driver and Passenger airbags
–  Top variant available with up to six airbags

Thumbs down:

– Lethargic petrol engine

Value for money:

Rating 4 out of 5 (5 being the highest value for money and 1 being the least).

Verdict

From the stylish, bold exterior, comfortable interior, intelligent storage space, latest smart features, fuel efficient engines, and everything that you wished for from a compact-sedan, the Figo Aspire delivers.

If Ford gets the pricing right, it will certainly spice up the competition in the sub-compact sedan segment. As for now, Ford definitely has a winner on hand.

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Story first published: Monday, July 20, 2015, 13:01 [IST]
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