Ford Aspire

We headed to Jodh­pur, Ra­jasthan, to drive the facelift ver­sion of Ford’s com­pact sedan, the Aspire. Is it as­pi­ra­tional enough? We find out

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Re­vamped and re­vi­tal­ized new com­pact sedan

Given the fact that the Aspire is more of a city car than a per­for­mance ma­chine, it does per­form quite well where it mat­ters

Ev­ery year just be­fore the fes­tive sea­son, au­to­mo­bile com­pa­nies tend to be ea­ger to launch up­dated ver­sions of their cur­rent prod­ucts along­side fresh of­fer­ings and Ford re­cently did ex­actly that in the form of the new Aspire. We were in Jodh­pur to drive the new Aspire and to ex­plore the changes made in it by Ford. Here is what tran­spired.

To be­gin with, the facelift Aspire still looks very much like the out­go­ing model; how­ever, look closely and you start to see the dif­fer­ence. For in­stance, the front bumper now fea­tures new fog-lamp in­serts. Ford have also re­vised the front grille, re­plac­ing the hor­i­zon­tal slats with a mesh de­sign, and they are also of­fer­ing 15-inch wheels on the top-end Ti­tat­nium and Ti­ta­nium+ vari­ants. The rear, how­ever, re­minds you of the pre-facelift Aspire.

In­side, things have changed quite a bit. The dash­board, for ex­am­ple, is all new as it comes from Ford’s Freestyle. It fea­tures a 6.5-inch touch­screen dis­play that is quite in­tu­itive. It also fea­tures Ford’s Sync3 sys­tem that comes with An­droid Auto and Ap­ple CarPlay con­nec­tiv­ity, giv­ing one the free­dom to stream mu­sic, use nav­i­ga­tion, and even make and re­ceive calls. The new Ford Aspire also gets push but­ton start, au­to­matic cli­mate con­trol, rear-view cam­era, rain-sens­ing wipers, six airbags, and emer­gency as­sis­tance via Sync3. Th­ese changes give the in­te­rior a new look and also make the Aspire a car loaded with fea­tures. The cabin de­sign, how­ever, still re­minds you of the pre­vi­ous model.

On the space front, there is enough leg- and knee­room and also good head-room. The seats are com­fort­able with good over­all sup­port and the car also comes with a de­cent boot that holds enough lug­gage for those quick week­end get­aways.

The big­gest change comes in the form of the new 1.2-litre, three-cylin­der petrol en­gine that pro­duces peak power of 96 PS at 6,500 rpm and 120 Nm of torque at 4,250 rpm, which is quite de­cent for a three-pot mo­tor. The en­gine comes mated to a five-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion that is smooth with short ra­tios.

We drove the Ti­ta­nium+ trim and the first thing I no­ticed was the smooth­ness of the en­gine and its re­fine­ment. The power and torque de­liv­ery are quite lin­ear and there is am­ple pull even at low revs. The en­gine pulls cleanly till about 110 km/h, af­ter which one can feel it get­ting stressed a lit­tle to go fur­ther. Given the fact that the Aspire is more of a city car than a per­for­mance ma­chine, it does per­form quite well where it mat­ters. Its short gear ra­tios let one drive the Aspire at city speeds with­out work­ing the gear­box much. I was im­pressed by the easy drive­abil­ity of the Aspire be­cause it feels more like a small car.

In terms of han­dling, the Aspire is quite im­pres­sive, just as be­fore, and that is be­cause it is still the same car un­der­neath the facelift. It feels quite com­posed and sta­ble at all times. It can go from cor­ner to cor­ner with­out any fuss and with am­ple feed­back com­ing through the steer­ing wheel. The sus­pen­sion set-up is good enough for our roads. It ab­sorbs all the bumps and un­du­la­tions with ease. It does pro­duce a lit­tle body-roll when you push the car hard into cor­ners, but it is man­age­able and does not

re­ally up­set the car much. The ven­ti­lated brakes work well with am­ple feel and feed­back.

Safety is also quite good. The Aspire re­tains the same strong struc­ture and comes with six airbags in the top-end vari­ant. The re­main­ing vari­ants get dual airbags at the front as stan­dard. It also fea­tures ABS with EBD as stan­dard across the range. The top-end vari­ant also gets ad­di­tional safety fea­tures such as Hill Launch As­sist and Elec­tronic Sta­bil­ity Pro­gramme as stan­dard. This makes the Aspire one of the best-equipped cars in its seg­ment.

Over­all, the new Ford Aspire is a car that hasn’t re­ally changed much from the pre­vi­ous ver­sion. It has the same dy­nam­ics, ride qual­ity, and easy drive­abil­ity. The new petrol en­gine is a wel­come ad­di­tion as it per­forms well and is a re­fined unit.

Our drive in Jodh­pur al­lowed us to ex­plore the Aspire’s char­ac­ter on nar­row roads as well as well the paved high­ways of Ra­jasthan and it never re­ally felt out of place on both oc­ca­sions.

The car we drove is priced at Rs 7.24 lakh (exshow­room); how­ever, the prices for the petrol model start at Rs 5.55 lakh (ex-show­room), which is quite a good value-for-money propo­si­tion con­sid­er­ing the fact that you get a de­cent amount of equip­ment along with a ca­pa­ble en­gine and good ride qual­ity and han­dling. So, if you aspire to ful­fil your wish for a com­pact sedan by buy­ing a Ford, then the Aspire surely looks like a com­pe­tent con­tender.

( Above) The 1.2 en­gine feels re­fined and has am­ple power for city driv­ing ( Right) New cen­tre con­sole bor­rowed from the Freestyle ( Be­low) The top-end Ti­ta­nium+ vari­ant gets 15-inch wheels

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