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The 1.5-litre diesel is simply unmatched for performance and economy

Performance – Ford’s 1.5-litre diesel engine is easily the best small capacity oil burner around and when it ain’t broke why fix it, so there are no mechanical changes to this motor. Producing 100 PS of power and 215 Nm of torque, power delivery is linear, low-end lag is well contained and the Aspire diesel is very drivable in stop-go traffic. The mid-range is strong and the Aspire pulls to triple digit speeds in a jiffy, in fact 0-100 km/hr comes up in just 9.72 seconds. There is such good thrust from the diesel powerplant that wheel-spins are plenty (even with upsized wheels), and it’s only the top-end where this motor lacks although it still stretches to a 5000 RPM redline.

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The new 1.2-litre petrol engine gives a shot to the Aspire’s arm

The petrol engine really impresses, no longer is the diesel the only goto

Refinement levels are good lower down but it does get vocal in the high-end of the rev band. The new gearbox (you need to lift and slot into reverse now in the diesel) offers slick shifts and the clutch is light too. Meanwhile, the petrol engines are all-new 3-cylinder units, the automatic is the 1.5-litre mill that does duty on the EcoSport and outputs an impressive 123 PS and 150 Nm, paired to a 6-speed torque converter, we didn’t sample this engine on our drive. The manual is the 1.2-litre powerplant that generates a segment best 96 PS and 120 Nm, it made its debut in the Freestyle. Performance from the Dragon motor is impressive, there is good low-end pep and post a slight hesitation in the mid-range, it gets punchy in the top-end and accelerates with gusto right from 4000 RPM to its 6800 RPM redline.

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Ford now has the best trio of engines in the compact sedan segment

Refinement levels are great for a 3-cylinder engine, it only gets vocal at higher RPMs, that too in a good way. The gearbox offers slick shifts too. Both the petrol and diesel engines are efficient, the former should return a mileage of 13-14 km/l while the latter will stretch it to an impressive 16-18 km/l. Ironically, the petrol powered Aspires have a 2-litre bigger fuel tank than the diesel. The diesel models also weigh lesser than the petrol automatic due to the weight of the AT box. Unfortunately, there is no diesel automatic on offer which all the three primary rivals of the Aspire offer.

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The Aspire is engineered to Ford’s surefooted dynamics

Driving Dynamics – Ford has got a good balance of ride and handling on the Aspire. With the bigger wheels, the dynamics are even better. Ride quality is pliant and absorbs almost everything in its stride although bad roads are felt inside but only at higher speeds. The steering offers good feel too, it’s light at lower speeds and weighs up at higher speeds but isn’t in the same league as the hydraulic steering assisted first generation Figo. There is some amount of body roll but the car is quite poised around the bends and is a whole lot of fun, no matter which engine is powering it. Brakes too offer good stopping power but the ABS is over sensitive and pulsates just too much under heavy braking.