Sunday, September 20, 2015

Ford Figo Aspire Review - Compact Sedan Segment just got Shaken and Stirred

I bid my Chevrolet Beat farewell last month, with the 5 year upgrade itch that finally kicked in along with other reasons to look out for a new ride, Ford Figo Aspire won my heart and mind to earn a place in my car parking. I have written this initial review after welcoming my Blue Oval during September 2015 and driving it for close to 1100 Kms with a maiden trip on Mumbai Pune Expressway.

Choosing Figo Aspire against other offerings in the same category was not easy and I had to keep my impulses in check after the first test drive, only went ahead with the decision to purchase this car after the second test drive once I was sure that this machine was suitable to my requirements and it checked almost all the right boxes on my wishlist.

As a first time owner of an oil-burner, I am pretty excited to share my ownership experience and at the same time steering clear of preconceived notions surrounding the Ford brand in India, keeping fingers crossed on the after sales support from dealer and manufacturer.

Also posting car pics on my Flickr Album

Here's a short but quick review on the features of the car:


- Aggressive Aston Martin inspired front grille stance, aesthetic looking swept back headlamps, well crafted curves above and around the front bumper to give it a muscle car look.

- Linear design all along the body without any sharp curves merges into boot which does not look out of proportion, has aptly shaped rear tail lamps. Chrome strip across on the top section of boot does not feel very stylish but looks classy.

- Rear windshield is slanting and appears to be raised, Number plate slot is at the fag low end and of the rear bumper, there is some plastic material cladding both at the front and rear bumper to prevent minor scratches to bottom section of the car in case it scrapes on bad speed breakers or potholes.

- 2491mm wheelbase gives this car an elongated look, Front windshield offers good view of the road while driving, the Front fog lamp frame also could have got chrome treatment to give it a slightly premium look, DRL should have being provided as optional accessory.

- OEM tyres are undersized, to improve handling you can go for a 185/60 R15 upgrade but R15 size would void warranty, alloys provided on this variant look stylish with ford branding in the center.

Overall exterior looks feels fresh and dynamic, does not try to extend the sporty feature from the front across the car giving it a balanced look and a well executed design.

Interior (Features, Space & Comfort)

- Interior is mostly beige in shade providing an airy feel to the cabin with two tone color used on dashboard and there are almost close to 20 usable slots in the front section, central console has good quality piano black finish with winged style button layout for phone/phone book and OEM music unit controls. Light control panel is on the RHS below steering. Steering has only tilt adjustment option, Glove box feels tad small in size but enough to store documents and other light stuff. Sun visors for passenger and co-passenger seat come with vanity mirrors.

- IRVM mirror is wide enough to give you proper view from the rear windshield but it would take time to adjust due to the slanting glass, I got IRVM camera installed additionally. ORVM is electrically adjustable but it is not automatic and again even these mirrors feel small in size for a car in this segment. Passenger seat comfort is excellent and it provides good under thigh support.

- Instrument panel could have been increased in size to provide better view of the odometer and tachometer, fuel gauge could have been integrated with digital information display screen which has multiple modes to access various details like DTE, External ambient temperature, Avg Speed, Mileage etc. Rear seat is equally comfortable for long journey and has good amount of leg space for rear passenger. Seat head restraints are adjustable in height for all seats and seat belt also comes with height adjustment along with same feature for driver seat.

- Rear power window do not go down fully and all power windows come with anti-pinch feature. Stalk for wiper control can be set to three different levels at multiple settings, fitting 3 normal passengers for short trips would not be a problem, I am doubtful if they would have good shoulder level comfort while on long journey's. There is no rear AC vent which is not requires as cabin cools very quickly due to powerful cooling unit, cabin ingress is easy but egress becomes triply due to raised platform near the doors.

- Quality of plastic used for car interior is good but not of an excellent quality to write home about, acceleration pedal could have been more wide and dead pedal is missing. You also get arm support which can be pulled down from the middle section of the rear seat with 2 passengers. Cabin light comes with theater dimming feature and it illuminates the cabin sufficiently in the dark. Steering is very light to hold and has thick contour towards the center to offer better grip around the palms.

You can skip/forward/rewind songs and control volume from mounted audio control on the steering which is illuminated in dark. Controls for power windows are not illuminated.

- Warning lights/indicators/alarm includes Door Ajar, Seat Belt not worn and headlight on alert. overall execution of interiors is done practically without overwhelming presence of gadgets like button start, navigation screen that are nice to have features and for me biggest plus is the seat ergonomics which has taken away the stress of driving petrol hatchback I had earlier in B2B peak hour office traffic in the city.

Engine Performance, Fuel Economy and Gearbox

1.5 TDCi engine grabs all the spotlight for this car and once you power up the engine from neutral to 1st gear the clatter of diesel engine noise quickly fades away, once you shift to 2nd gear the surge of torque starts kicking in from as low as 1300 RPM which prompts you up shift gears quickly and there is virtually no turbo lag felt which makes it easier to drive Figo Aspire sedately even on 4th and 5th gear saving much of your efforts in downshifting while driving in moderate to light traffic conditions.

I have completed over 1100 kms of driving on this car after I took delivery on 4th Sep which includes a maiden trip of Mumbai-Pune expressway, mileage I am getting currently is at 18 kpl, Gearbox is easy to operate and it is not very stiff while moving across different gears. I have topped 140 kmph speed on the expressway and at around 3000 RPM on the highway I could feel he engine straining a bit because it is new, nevertheless in the city car accelerates to 80 kmph speed very quickly and overtaking is easy as breeze as you would never feel the engine running out on breath for such short bursts of power as and when needed.

Ride Quality & Handling
Figo Aspire's suspension handles minor bumps and bad roads with ease and there is not much body roll felt for both front and rear passengers. When it comes to nasty speed breakers and deep potholes the suspension would absorb the initial impact but you would surely feel a strong thud on the under body of the car. Overall handling of the car is good however on the highway under steering is experienced around sharp corners due to small OEM tyre size. You would not feel weird wobbling or car body vibrations while driving straight on high speed.

NVH levels inside the cabin is excellent and once you cross speed of over 100 kmph on the highway there is some external ambient noise that seeps inside the cabin but it stays at tolerable level and you do not have to raise your voice to speak or turn the music volume up to negate this disturbance. Steering is very light to operate in the city which is a boon and it gets sufficiently heavy in the centre due to EPAS feature while driving on highway to give you confidence. Turning radius at 4.9m provides good maneuverability.

Final Words

Ford Figo Aspire has taken full advantage as late entrant to compact sedan segment by offering first in class minimum 2 airbags across all variants, providing features like MyDock, Automatic Climate Control, Bluetooth music system with 4 speakers, Follow Me Headlamps etc. it is a no compromise car when it comes to style, power and performance. Diesel engine is the star performer for Ford here and I am very satisfied with the overall pre-sales, delivery and initial ownership.

Areas of improvement
There are some noticeable panel gaps around headlight cluster, boot section and front bumper though not very wide however it is not expected from a car of this category and navigating on USB to access music across folders is very distracting, which makes it better to stick to listening to music via Bluetooth. If you like pushing car around corners and prefer better stability to mileage then swapping of OEM tyres is mandatory.

I have put together my observations in the detailed early impression review on Team-BHP portal, please follow this thread for regular updates.

Ongoing Ownership Update post