If you have been driving around a premium hatchback for a few years now and want to upgrade to the practicality of a sedan, then you have new entrant in the segment. The new Figo Aspire will be the fifth car in the entry sedan segment and will go head-to-head with the likes of the Honda Amaze, Maruti Dzire, Hyundai Xcent as well as Tata Zest. The Aspire has the styling edge over all these cars but will its charming looks be enough to dent sales of its rivals.
While looks are subjective, it’s hard to fault with the Aspire’s styling. The front end looks very similar to the bigger Fiesta sedan. The funky design which is heavily borrowed from the much more premium Aston Martin range of cars looks striking. The big trapezoidal grille looks inviting as do the big lamps. The rear profile of the car isn’t as charming as the front. The sub 4-metre length means that the boot section is rather stubby and the overhangs are short as well. Unlike the Honda Amaze, which looks nicely balanced, the Aspire lacks the cohesiveness of design. That said, it still is the best looking car in this segment from the front end atleast. The boot at 359 litre capacity is decent for its class.
Ford seem to have improved quality over the Ecosport as well as the Fiesta. So there are plenty of soft touch plastics inside the cabin. That said, the quality is still not a match for the Maruti Dzire or the Hyundai Xcent both of which are clearly a step above.
The cabin is very good on practically and you get a total of nine bottle holders inside the cabin. There are plenty of places to keep your odds and ends as well. You get a small box on top of the dash board as well as a small tray between the driver and front passenger. The front seats offer good support as well, while the long seat base means that even tall passengers with longer legs should be comfortable.
The rear seats offer decent space as well. With the front seats raised up slightly, rear passengers have place to stretch their feet below the front ones. That said, the Aspire still cannot match the class leader Honda Amaze for sheer rear space as well as comfort. With a tall tunnel in the floor board at the rear, the Aspire’s ability to carry three passengers abreast is also negated.
Engine, gearbox and performance
You can choose two engine options with the Aspire. There is a 1.2-litre petrol motor with 87bhp of power as well as a 1.5-litre diesel engine with 98bhp of power. There is also a 1.5-litre petrol but it will come with an automatic gearbox only.
We managed to sample the two manual gearboxes. The 1.2-litre petrol motor isn’t particularly responsive from low engine revs. But it has good grunt once you dial up the revs. The 1.5-litre diesel is the one to go for if you want better power delivery. If you have ever driven the Figo diesel then the Aspire will feel like a familiar car to drive. And we mean that in a good way. Power delivery is linear and the engine starts responding from a relatively low 1,500 rpm. Great for punting around city traffic. The engine is smooth for the most part and refinement levels are very good too and at par with the Hyundai Xcent and Maruti Dzire.
The gearbox on both the diesel and petrol is decent to operate with a positive and crisp action. However, the units can still not match the Dzire for ultimate crispness or sporty feel.
Ride and handling
If you have driven the older Fiesta(renamed Classic or even the Fiesta) then the Aspire will come across as a huge let down in this department. The stiffly set up suspension is great for highway trips but can get a little uncomfortable for those city jaunts, especially over badly patch worked roads. The steering on both diesel and petrol versions offers decent communication but is neither direct nor crisp, which simply leaves you underwhelmed if you are a keen driver. Body lean through corners is under control though.
Safety and features
All Aspire variants will come with two airbags, while the top end versions will come with six airbags as standard. You also get ABS on the top versions. The car also gets Ford’s SYNC feature, which enables you to control some key functions inside the car through your voice. You also get climate control as well as Bluetooth. Surprisingly, a start/stop button is missing.
The Aspire looks good, comes with solid build quality and a decent set of engines. While it doesn’t particularly excel in any one area, it does most things well, which means that it appeals to a wide audience. It isn’t the class best but isn’t very far from the top either.