The ‘compact sedan’ is a curious thing. It’s a concept particularly popular in the Indian subcontinent owing to the hatchbacked form that most cars took on when entering the country’s fledgling car market. Which in turn made hatchbacks symbolic of mass mobilisation, placing the sedan a notch above. Odds are, if you can get a sedan for a hatch’s money, you’d take it.
The segment has become tremendously popular with most car manufacturers stepping in with a reworked version of their of their most popular hatchbacks – now endowed with a boot. The new Ford Figo Aspire is one such car. Yes, it doesn’t resemble the current Figo or any other Ford in India for that matter, but its sub-four metre proportions justify the classification. There is an all new Figo that’s going to be around soon and it looks near identical to the Aspire – save for the boot.
The new Figo Aspire is a sharp looking car, with a more contemporary, trademark Ford grille and design cues that make it more of a squashed Ford Mondeo. Which is a good thing, because it immediately adds to the upscale quotient of the car. The car has short overhangs, making it easy to manoeuvre around tight city blocks and a well-defined front which is the car’s most striking feature. The Ford Figo is available with a 1.2 litre petrol and 1.5 litre diesel option, with another dual-clutch automatic variant on its way which will be powered by a more powerful 1.5 litre petrol.
There’s plenty of segment-firsts inside what is a fairly comfortable cabin. It’s spruced up by beige leather seats and piano black highlights on the dual tone dash and the steering. It’s also the first sub-four metre sedan to get six airbags in the top-end variant while the base variant gets two airbags as standard. That should take care of the abysmal NCAP safety rating.
The top-end Titanium trim is equipped with Ford’s in-app connectivity feature – SYNC, which enables the dash to interact with your mobile phone. The lower variants get the MyFord Dock which allows you to plug your phone in and access music, navigation etc. There are also plenty of cubby holes to accommodate an arsenal of beverages, snacks and gadgets for a small army.
Starting with the petrol, the 1.2 litre powerplant puts out 86.5 bhp with its 11 kgm of torque peaking at 4000 rpm. Driven on large, empty highways, the car’s power delivery seemed rather sluggish – kicking in after the needle crossed the 3000 mark. Which means driving at low speeds in higher gears requires an infinite amount of patience. Switching over to the diesel, suddenly changed the car’s driving characteristics, making the car feel alive with a good deal more torque (21 kgm) which propelled it to triple digits with more urgency than the petrol. If it’s stop-and-go traffic and quick overtaking manoeuvres you’re worried about – this is the engine to go for.
The car’s suspension is tailored for city driving – making it soft and hungry for portholes. The car rides on high-profile tyres which add to the supple ride quality. Tight bends tend to upset it just a bit; it’s just not the agile animal that the standard Figo is. Nor does it have the same communicative steering that is characteristic of most Fords.
The Figo Aspire is designed for a comfortable, economical commute – and it fulfills that role perfectly well. It’s high on quality in every aspect and arguably, prettier than most of the competition. Give it a look, if you’re in the market for a well packaged, economical, city runner.