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