Ford As­pire

New face, new en­gine and more fea­tures

Auto Today - - Dashboard - PIC­TURES Nis­hant Jhamb

The Ford As­pire has al­ways been a rather like­able prod­uct. Launched in July 2015, the Figo-based com­pact sedan im­pressed us with its driv­ing dy­nam­ics, space and safety equip­ment, which cou­pled with the bril­liant 1.5-litre diesel en­gine from Ford, made it a very com­pelling pack­age. But it had its flaws - a weak petrol en­gine and the lack of cer­tain fea­tures to name a few. Now, Ford has given the As­pire a makeover com­plete with a new petrol en­gine, re­vised ex­te­ri­ors, ad­di­tional fea­tures and a more ag­gres­sive price tag. Sounds promis­ing then, doesn’t it?

Although there weren’t any ma­jor com­plaints about the way the As­pire looked, Ford has fresh­ened things up a bit for good mea­sure. There are new bumpers, a new front grille, ac­com­pa­nied by hard to no­tice tweaks to the head­light and tail light ge­om­e­try. There is a new White Gold colour op­tion lifted from the Freestyle’s palette while the Sparkling Gold (read or­ange) shade has been dropped. But what re­ally lifts the ap­pear­ance is a set of new 15-inch al­loys re­plac­ing the older 14inch­ers which seemed a tad small for the car.

More than the ex­te­rior, though, it’s the changes un­der the hood and in­side the cabin that mat­ter. Start­ing with the lat­ter, the dash­board houses a 6-5-inch touch screen lifted from the Freestyle that fea­tures Ford’s SYNC 3 in­fo­tain­ment setup with Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto sup­port. The As­pire now comes with an en­gine start/stop but­ton, elec­tro chromic rear view mir­ror, au­to­matic head­lamps and rain sens­ing wipers mak­ing it one of the most fea­ture loaded of­fer­ings in its seg­ment. Like be­fore, the top end Ti­ta­nium+ trim fea­tures six airbags, while dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, and rear park­ing sen­sors are stan­dard across the range. One of the few grouses we have is the lack of rear door pock­ets and it would have been nice to have rear air con­di­tion­ing vents as well.

Ford’s new 1.2-litre 3-cylin­der petrol en­gine that de­buted with the Freestyle re­places the older 1.2-litre 4-cylin­der unit. Power and torque out­puts of 96bhp and 120Nm trans­late into an in­cre­ment of 8bhp and 8Nm. While that may not seem like much, the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the petrol

MORE THAN THE EX­TE­RIOR, THOUGH, IT’S THE CHANGES UN­DER THE HOOD AND IN­SIDE THE CABIN THAT MAT­TER

vari­ant have im­proved. The As­pire petrol feels quicker than be­fore and feels more com­fort­able be­ing driven hard. To get the best out of it, though, you have to rile it up be­yond the 3,000 rpm mark. The en­gine it­self is re­fined with a counter bal­ancer cut­ting out most of the vi­bra­tions char­ac­ter­is­tic of 3-cylin­der units. The 5-speed gear­box im­presses with its short pre­cise throws and the petrol vari­ant is def­i­nitely much nicer to drive now.

The As­pire con­tin­ues to en­list the ser­vices of the 1.5 litre 4-cylin­der en­gine for the diesel vari­ant. Like be­fore, there is 100bhp of max­i­mum power and 215 Nm of peak torque. The 5-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion used here is new and its smooth shift­ing na­ture adds to the joy­ous driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence the As­pire diesel of­fers. Over­all claimed fuel ef­fi­ciency has gone up from 25.83kmpl to 26.1kmpl. De­spite the im­prove­ments to the petrol vari­ant, our loy­al­ties still lie with the diesel. In fact, it is one of the best diesel com­pact sedans one can buy, if not the best.

Ford is of­fer­ing the As­pire with not one but two new petrol en­gines. The sec­ond one comes from the EcoS­port - a 1.5-litre 3 cylin­der petrol with 123bhp and 150Nm paired ex­clu­sively with a 6-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. This com­bi­na­tion, on pa­per at least, seems ex­cit­ing but sadly we could not get our hands

on this vari­ant dur­ing the drive.

Ford doesn’t seem to have fid­dled with the ride and han­dling and steer­ing of the As­pire and that is no bad thing. The As­pire is still one of the bet­ter han­dling ve­hi­cles in its seg­ment thanks to its sus­pen­sion setup that strikes a nice bal­ance be­tween com­fort and sporty. The chunky steer­ing wheel is not only nice to hold but re­sponds to in­puts well and has the right amount of weight at all speeds. Chuck­ing it into cor­ners is fun but there are in­stances where the tail gets a bit squirmy es­pe­cially dur­ing sud­den changes in di­rec­tion. Ford claims that the As­pire petrol re­turns 20.4kmpl over­all. This fig­ure comes down to 19.4kmpl in case of the Ti­ta­nium and Ti­ta­nium plus trims thanks the use of big­ger 195/55 R15 tyres.

De­spite all the ad­di­tions and changes, Ford has man­aged to bring the price down. The new As­pire is around Rs 20,000 cheaper than the one it re­places. The 1.2 petrol man­ual vari­ant is priced be­tween Rs 5.55 lakh and Rs 7.24 lakh (ex-show­room) while the diesel vari­ant re­tails for Rs 6.45 lakh to Rs 8.14 lakh (ex-show­room). The 1.5-litre petrol AT avail­able only in the Ti­ta­nium trim is price at Rs 8.49 lakh (ex-show­room).

Up­dates to the cabin in­clude a 6-5-inch touch­screen with the SYNC3 in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, mi­nor changes to the in­stru­ment panel and a longer list of fea­tures with the ad­di­tion of an en­gine start/stop but­ton, au­to­matic head­lights, rain sens­ing wipers and an auto dim­ming IRVM

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