Ford Figo Aspire Review
Car Tested: 2015 Ford Figo Aspire
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 5.95 – 10.09 lakhs
The Figo Aspire is a game changing car from Ford India and is a practical & safe vehicle
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.
Motor Quest: The Figo Aspire is the sedan version of the Figo hatchback whose second generation model was recently unveiled. While popular in Brazil, the Figo sedan receives India specific changes including ducking under the sub 4-metre mark, thereby becoming Ford’s second 4-metre vehicle in the country. The Figo Aspire was first showcased in India as the Figo Concept at the 2014 Auto Expo and replaces the Classic in the company’s line-up.
Exteriors – Ford has taken an aggressive leap forward in terms of design. Remember the days of the Escort and Ikon? Those cars were a hoot to drive but not half as exciting to look at. The Figo Aspire gets the latest design language and comes with a very imposing front profile. The instantly recognisable grille derived from the British sports car marque lends it some attitude. The four-slat chrome grille thankfully gets a clean design instead of having the Ford logo slapped in the middle, which is neatly placed on the nose. The headlights are huge in size and extend all the way back to the fenders. The bonnet bulge adds to the masculine stance of the car while the simple designed bumper with fog lamps completes the front profile.
The Aspire is quite easily the best looking compact sedan in India currently
We think Ford decided to add ORVMs integrated blinkers later because there is a blank element left on the front fenders for the indicators that looks quite odd. Having said that, the side profile looks complete considering the sub-4 metre challenge the designers had to face. The boot tends to look a bit short but is integrated well and the strong shoulder-line makes things consistent. The blackened B-pillar shows a good contrast but the alloys could have been sleeker. The rear gets sizeable tail lamp cluster, thick chrome line for a wider appearance and a neatly designed bumper with blackened lip. All in all, the Figo Aspire gets youthful, confident and fresh styling, which should offend none and make it stand proudly against the competition.
Interiors – After exploring the upmarket exteriors, the interiors continue to impress us considering how the previous generation Figo was. The Aspire has a touch of premium-ness to its cabin thanks to the extensive use of beige and the new dashboard, which is derived from its elder siblings. You must be very familiar with the centre console and steering wheel from the EcoSport and Fiesta. The three-spoke steering as always feels great to hold with those chunky contours and the piano black inserts look good. There are controls for the audio system and Bluetooth telephony. The stalks have been finally swapped for Indian driving style! The indicator, trip meter and dipper controls are on the right while the wiper controls are on the left-hand-side. The three-pod instrument cluster looks small in size and is a bit basic with a tiny MID display but it is quite easy to read. The headlight and fog lamp controls continue to have the European position, which is convenient and also gets the boot release button there. The rearview mirror controls are placed on the A-pillar like the old Figo and Classic that offer electric adjustment and power folding function with a tap downwards.
The Figo Aspire gets automatic climate control on the Titanium and Titanium + variants that chills the cabin quite effectively but at higher fan speeds there is a lot of noise coming out from the vents. The SYNC system with AppLink comes on the Titanium + variant that has a 4.2-inch screen. It offers CD, AUX, USB and Bluetooth connectivity with voice-activated handsfree system. It streams music, which sounds good through its 4-speaker audio system but at high volumes the bass tends to get distorted. There is an emergency assist system that activates when the car experiences a collision and automatically calls the emergency responders providing location and vehicle information. The AppLink system currently works with four apps including Glympse, which lets you share your location with contacts, ESPN Cricinfo that keeps you remain updated with scores, MapMyIndia to explore new attractions and Burrp to discover new food destinations.
Ford’s attention to detail makes cabin a convenient place for everyday usage
Another interesting new feature which is unheard of in this segment is the MyKey technology available with the SYNC system. This system lets the owners program the key that limits the top speed of the car, music volume, prevents switching TCS off and also ensures the usage of seatbelt by turning off the audio system unless the driver wears the seatbelt. So if you don’t want your car to be mishandled by some other driver then you can programme the key, which offers great peace of mind. The Trend and Titanium variants don’t offer SYNC system and instead come with an innovative MyFord Dock feature. There is a small compartment on the top of the dashboard, where you can mount your phone and charge it with the USB port placed in the same compartment and also the AUX port for music connectivity. This way you can easily access your phone’s navigation system too without fumbling with the device.
The quality inside the cabin is good and never does it feel cheap or built to a cost. The doors are heavy and the car has solid build quality. The controls have a tactile feel, the air vents (none at the rear but the AC is a chiller), audio controls, climate control knobs, window switches, etc. feel built to last. There are more than 20 smart storage spaces inside the cabin to make the cabin look neat and tidy. The front door pockets can hold two bottles including a 1.5-litre and a 1.0-litre bottle with still some extra space left for more things. Then there is the sizeable glovebox with a neat pen holder. Just below the audio system there is a convenient place to park your phone that has rubberised material to keep it in place. Between the front seats there is a compartment that gets three cup holders, coin storage and a bin for the rear passengers. The one we liked the most is a secret side compartment, which is only accessible when the driver’s door is open. There are no door pockets for the rear but there are seatback pockets for newspapers and magazines and a parcel shelf at the back with carved out space to keep tissue boxes and similar stuff. There are no grab handles on the Titanium + trim because of six airbags but other variants get it. There are cabin lights for front passengers but missing for the rear.
It is safe to say that the Figo Aspire’s cabin is very comfortable to be in and it is amongst the most comfortable cars in this segment. Coming in and out of the cabin is effortless. The driving position is commanding and you can adjust the steering, seat and seatbelt height according to your preference. Footwell is spacious but has no dead pedal while the chunky new gear-knob is well within reach. The range topping variant gets leatherette seats that adds to the premium feel of the cabin. It has ample cushioning, which is not too soft and neither too hard. There are individual adjustable headrests for four passengers. Front seats have good lateral and under thigh support. The rear seats lack a bit of under thigh support but has ideal recline angle and convenient headrests. The rear legroom is generous and even when the front seats are pushed all the way back it is usable for an average height Indian (the front seat back is scooped out for improved knee room). The headroom is good even for tall passengers but the shoulder room could be a bit tight when seating three abreast. The transmission tunnel hump further makes the middle passenger a bit uneasy. Otherwise the large windows and extensive use of beige makes the car quite airy, providing a great sense of space. 359 litres of luggage space is quite accommodating and underneath you will find a spare steel wheel. Ford will be offering rear parking sensors with camera as an accessory that gets camera and GPS display in the IRVM which also has auto dimming feature. Other interesting accessories will include rear seat entertainment, ambient lighting, illuminated scuff plates and shark fin antenna.
Performance – Ford is offering three engines on the Figo Aspire, two petrol and one diesel. The popular petrol engine of choice is the 1.2-litre unit which also powers the current Figo hatchback, it has been tweaked though, getting better breathing and multiple tweaks for enhanced output, better performance and higher efficiency. Producing 88 PS and 112 Nm, the Figo Aspire petrol turns out to offer very good low-end performance, thereby having excellent in-city drivability. One doesn’t have to floor the pedal or downshift frequently when ambling around town. However, out on the highway, the motor doesn’t have the same zest in the mid or top-end and feels a bit slow to respond, necessitating downshifts when you want a quick overtake. It redlines at 6500 RPM and post 5000 RPM, the mill makes a screaming sound which is quite exciting to hear but the sound and acceleration aren’t on the same page. 100 km/hr comes in third gear while at the same speed in top gear, you would be cruising at a shade under 3000 RPM.
The diesel Aspire will outrun every other diesel car in its class easily
The second petrol engine is the 1.5-litre motor that does duty on the EcoSport and was also seen on the pre-facelift Fiesta. Producing a generous 112 PS and 136 Nm of torque, the only reason this non-excise duty friendly engine finds its way under the sub 4-metre Aspire’s hood is the 6-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox (comes with 10-year/1-lakh kms warranty), without doubt a segment leading transmission. ARAI mileage for the 1.2L is 18.16 km/l while the 1.5L is rated at 17.2 km/l. Meanwhile the 1.5-litre diesel has a stellar claimed mileage of 25.83 km/l, the engine being the same which does duty on the EcoSport and Fiesta but gets higher output of 100 PS and 215 Nm. So the Figo Aspire’s diesel mill has more power, more torque and is more frugal too (when compared to the same oil burner in its sibling). But that’s not all, it has a lighter clutch and smoother gearbox too. Ford has also improved low-end response, making the 1.5-litre powertrain by far better in every aspect.
The Ford Figo Aspire diesel is at home in the city as drivability is excellent, turbo lag being very well contained while the mid-range is quite strong. In fact, this car keeps pulling to 160 km/hr with absolute ease and since there is no speed limiter like the Amaze, it beats the Honda in top speed while also being quicker in the 0-100 km/hr sprint. The motor isn’t very fast revving and takes time to reach its almost 5000 RPM redline, with the top-end not being the strong point of this oil burner. While NVH levels are good, the engine makes its presence felt post 3500 RPM (4500 RPM in the 1.2 petrol). 100 km/hr comes up in third and doing the ton in top gear results in 2200 RPM on the tachometer. All this is also thanks to the lower weight of the car compared to typical Fords, lending a good power to weight ratio.
Driving Dynamics – Ford cars are known to be dynamically rich and while the Figo Aspire handles very well, being better than its rivals in the segment, it doesn’t have the same feel of a Fiesta or even the good old Classic (it uses the same platform though which has seen some modifications). The company has tested the vehicle for 150 hours in the wind tunnel for improved aerodynamics which works well in both performance and efficiency. The steering system is now electric (EPAS with pull drift compensation) and there is some vagueness in the centre, the steering weighing up decently at speed but still being on lighter side in the interest of ease of driving in the city. The suspension is naturally on the stiffer side but just enough to keep the car planted at high speeds while the focus is clearly on comfort as road, tyre and suspension noise is well insulated.
Comfort levels on the Figo Aspire are very high, ride quality is simply excellent
Due to the body being lighter, it’s not as surefooted as other Ford cars but still inspires enough confidence to drive fast. The petrol Figo offers slightly better handling due to its lower front-end weight while there is some body roll although not much. The Figo Aspire excels in the ride quality department, it glides over roads with authority and takes bad roads in its stride with utmost confidence. Hit a big bump at speed and you will encounter some bounciness but for the most part, the suspension does a fantastic job of ironing out inconsistent tarmac. Braking performance is excellent on the Figo Aspire and the car stops with utmost confidence, even when you stand on the brake pedal hard.
Safety and After Sales Service – Ford has kept safety as a top priority with the Figo Aspire. It comes with dual front airbags as standard across all variants and a class leading six airbags on the Titanium + variant, which is missing even on many D-segment sedans. ABS is standard on the Titanium and Titanium + while the automatic variant comes with Hill Hold Assist, TCS and ESP. The emergency assist with the SYNC system further boosts the safety aspect of the Figo. Ford has had perceptional challenges with their brand’s after sales but this time around they are targeting both tier-II and tier-III cities and promises competitive maintenance cost with the Figo Aspire. For the record, the company has more outlets than Honda in India. The compact sedan comes with 2 year/1,00,000 kms warranty and also 24/7 roadside assistance pan India.
Verdict – The Figo Aspire is a very important product for Ford India and they have done their research extremely well. The compact sedan looks good, has excellent interiors and is loaded with a ton of features, including dual airbags on base trims. That’s not all, the engines on offer are strong on drivability and are quite frugal too. Being a Ford, a good balance between ride and handling is a given which is true for the Figo Aspire as well. With Ford having priced the Figo Aspire very competitively, there is no denying it is the best car in its category. The new Figo Aspire is sure to take Ford to newer heights in the sub-continent.
The Ford Figo Aspire is a very well rounded package and boasts of many segment first features along with the most powerful petrol (1.5L) and diesel engine in its class. The compact sedan is strong on safety while also having plenty of storage spaces inside the cabin, showing Ford’s focus on what Indian customers want. This is one car which will worry its rivals a lot.
* Attractive looking compact sedan, goes against the norm of the third box being an after thought
* Loaded with a ton of equipment, also gets innovative MyKey and a class defying six airbags
* Generous interior room and comfortable seats, plenty of storage spaces too
* Powerful diesel engine packs in quite the punch, 1.2L petrol offers good low-end performance
* Fantastic ride quality and brakes, glides over the worst of roads and stops with confidence
* Child part strategy makes it very affordable to repair and replace Figo Aspire parts
What’s Not So Cool
* Small instrument cluster could have had a better design, a huge fuel meter isn’t needed
* 1.2-litre petrol mill isn’t as enthusiastic on the highway as the Japanese petrol engines in the segment
* While handling is good, it’s far from what we have come to expect from Ford cars
* Smaller boot when compared to its rivals
Alternatives: Maruti Swift DZire, Honda Amaze, Hyundai Xcent, Tata Zest
Ford Figo Aspire Specifications
* Engine: 1196cc, Ti-VCT (P); 1499cc, Ti-VCT (P AT); 1498cc, TDCi (D)
* Power: 88 PS @ 6300 RPM (P); 112 PS @ 6300 RPM (P AT); 100 PS @ 3750 RPM (D)
* Torque: 112 Nm @ 4000 RPM (P); 136 Nm @ 4250 RPM (P AT); 215 Nm @ 1750-3000 RPM (D)
* Transmission: 5-speed manual (P); 6-speed automatic (P AT); 5-speed manual (D)
* 0-100 km/hr: 13.5 seconds (P); 11 seconds (P AT); 9.72 seconds (D) (est.)
* Top Speed: 170 km/hr (P); 180 km/hr (P AT); 185 km/hr (D)
* Fuel Consumption: 14 km/l (P); 12 km/l (P AT); 18 km/l (D)
* Fuel Type: Petrol, Diesel
* Suspension: McPherson Struts (Front), Torsion Beam (Rear)
* Tyres: 175/65/14
* Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Drum (Rear), ABS
* Safety: Six Airbags, ABS, EBD, ESP, TCS, Hill Start Assist, Perimeter Alarm
Ford Figo Aspire Dimensions
* Overall length x width x height: 3995 mm X 1695 mm X 1525 mm
* Wheelbase: 2491 mm
* Turning Radius: 4.9 metres
* Ground clearance: 174 mm
* Boot Volume: 359 litres
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 42 litres (petrol), 40 litres (diesel)
* Kerb Weight: 1050 kg (est.)
Picture Editing – Sri Manikanta Achanta