Report & photography: Rahul
All pictures, photography
and editing work done using only an Apple iPhone 6
told us that they are making a brand new Figo from ground up and will also make
a compact sedan out of it too, to be honest I was a bit skeptical. You see, I
own the current Figo Hatchback which I love and have endearingly christened him
with the name Rudyard. I love to take care of him, I love to pamper him and I
love to keep him obsessively clean to an extent I’d wipe my feet before getting
in the car, but not my house. I am in love with him much to the annoyance of my
fellow colleagues who don’t clean their cars and don’t care as much about
theirs as I do of Rudyard.
So when Ford
said that they will put in a new refined petrol engine, and an immensely
powerful and economical diesel motor, I was happy. Then I heard that the Figo
Aspire will also be getting a new electric power steering system and this put
me off a bit. You see, the engine wasn’t much of a strong point in the Figo be
it the diesel or the petrol versions. But the chassis and the hydraulic
steering was what made the car so much fun to drive. It loved straight lines
and also loved taking corners. It is the steering that made you feel so
connected to the road. It tells you exactly where the front wheels are pointing
and the feedback is immense. It feels analogue and organic. Because of which I
have found a huge irrational loathing for electric steering systems which i
think feel wooden and disconnected. In my opinion, it’s just like instead of
driving, you just using the power of suggestions, you’re just a passenger
telling it what to do and not doing it yourself. If you enjoy less effort then
this is a big plus point!
The guys at Ford
called us to take a run on the new sedan version of the brand new Figo called
the Figo Aspire in Udaipur, with all my skepticism I went down there and drove it.
The Figo Aspire will be offered in 3 engine options. A 1.2L, Ti-VCT, 4 cylinder,
petrol and a 1.5L, TDCi, 4 cylinder, diesel mated to 5-speed manual gearbox and
a 1.5L, Vi-VCT, petrol, engine bolted to a 6-speed dual clutch automatic
transmission. We only got a chance to drive the manual petrol and diesel versions
on one of the best highways in the country, the Mount Abu highway in Rajasthan.
The automatic is expected to be launched
soon and this makes the Aspire a triple threat to the competition.
glance, the styling of the Figo Aspire is mesmerizing. The front trapezoidal grille makes it look
like an Aston Martin and the bold bulgy design with the swept back headlamps
make it seem like the MINI Countryman front the dead front. None of those are a
bad thing especially when you realize that it’s not a sporty super saloon or a
hot hatch. It’s a sub 4 metre compact sedan. The 14 inch tyres from the old
Figo remain and somehow it just looks smaller when compared to the proportions of
the car. Could Ford have done with 15 inch rims? Possibly, but they stuck with
the 14 inch ones for better fuel economy. The rear ends of all the cars in this
segment look so deliberately stretched out and unnatural, but the Aspire just
somehow manages to work around it and actually look pretty while doing it. In a
beauty pageant, it would win in this category hands down.
the same story. The centre console has been switched to the Fiesta and EcoSport
styled dial pad with the buttons that give it a futuristic look. Housed below
is the climate control system. Under the climate control assembly is a rubber
padded shelf big enough to keep your mobile phones. The car will be available
in 4 trims in the 1.2 petrol and the 1.5 diesel – Ambiente, Trend, Titanium and
Titanium+. The 2nd and 3rd variants get a brilliant
feature called “My Dock” which basically is a place to keep your phone and
transforms it into a screen altogether. With a USB port inside the dock, it
will also charge it as well as connect it to the infotainment system with
Bluetooth or many more features about which I can go on and on. The most
convenient part about “My Dock” is that it sits right on top of the centre
console in perfect view of the driver and is very accessible, so you don’t have
to stretch your arm to get to it. The dock is so simple and elegant, I think it’s
brilliant. We couldn’t find a single smart phone that doesn’t fit in the dock.
The Titanium+ though doesn’t get the docking system. Instead the top model gets
a 4.2 inch MFD infotainment screen for all the crazy features and the brilliant
Ford SYNC with AppLink.
The front and
rear seats are very comfortable. The seats in the front are extremely soft and provide
great support from all sides. Even at high speed corners, you won’t be thrown
about easily. The Aspire is also the first in its segment to offer leather
upholstery. The cabin is extremely spacious with a great amount of head room
and shoulder room.
Now that we
have all the itty bitty bits covered, let’s talk drivability. At first I drove
the 1.2L, petrol engine. Rudyard’s engine produces 70bhp and 102Nm of torque,
the updated 1.2L, Ti-VCT now produces 87bhp and 112Nm of torque. When I first
set off, I realized that the throttle is extremely smooth and it can easily
just start rolling without any hesitation from the gearbox and clutch. The
gearbox is essentially the same as the old and brilliant one but with updated
ratios to be economical. A small green arrow also tells you when to change up
so you can drive economically in city traffic. Though the petrol engine only
punches through anywhere above 3000rpm, in the city you won’t notice any lag of
power from the engine. The ratios in the gearboxes are so good, you can rev and
rev and rev the engine and the car just wants more. The limiter is all the way
up at 6500rpm. In 3rd gear at 4500rpm you’ll find yourself at half
throttle at 120kmph. Push it further down and it just climbs with ease. It’s a
brilliant new engine, a massive improvement from the previous one.
On the other
hand the 1.5L, diesel is a meaty and torquey beast. Again no hesitation from
the clutch or the gearbox, the engine just loves to push you into your seat.
The torque is just crazy when you think that it’s just a 1.5L, 4 pot, diesel
and not a 10L, V8. The power is immediate as soon as you nudge the throttle you
receive an almost immediate response which is linear to the pedal inputs. It’s
the same power you get at low and high revs with six and a half thousands of
them at your disposal. It is easy to max it out to its top speed, we were able
to get 190kmph on the empty, lonely and smooth highway. The old 1.4L, Duratorq,
diesel produced a terrible 68bhp in the Figo and 160Nm of torque, the 1.5L,
TDCi however produces a massive 99bhp and 215Nm of torque. Ford claims that
despite the power upgrades and torque, the fuel economy is pushed up even
further with the petrol giving 18.6kmpl and the diesel despite the massive
power gives a highly economical 25.83kmpl.
thing left to address is the EPAS system. Is it just like all other wooden
electric systems found on modern cars? I’m extremely glad to report that it’s
just not the case with this one. The system does feel immensely lighter than my
old hydraulic, it isn’t as great as that system but it does get close to it as
it can get. You do get feedback from the wheels, you do feel a slight amount of
weight in the steering wheel and yet it’s easy to maneuver into tight spots
without a glitch. Only when you get above 160kmph you start to lose confidence
in your inputs, you start to feel disconnected. In normal driving conditions
however, it suits my love for a driver’s car feel. Yet it also meets popular
demand of the “kitna deti hai” society.
So were my
fears true? Ford could just ruin it or would I want to replace my old for the
new? Obviously not, I have a connection with Rudyard which is like true love.
He has grown on me, and I have on him it’s an emotional connection that I just
can’t have with any other. But would I be disappointed to get the Aspire
instead of him in the first place? Absolutely not!
nutshell, the Sub 4- metre sedan segment hasn’t amazed me at all. I have never
desired any of the vehicles from this segment ever, no matter how many accents
you use in the name, in writing them or naming them, those cars just don’t have
that zest in them. But the way Ford has styled the Figo Aspire and provided a
massive list of features, quality, optional accessories and the entire car
itself makes it a threat to other contenders. Ford just needs to price it right
at around Rs. 5 lakh to start with. If that is the first number, the Indian
compact sedan market has a storm coming its way.
1.5L TDCi 4
MacPherson Strut with coil spring & anti-roll bar
Independent twist beam with twin gas & oil filled shock
L x W x H
3995 x 1695
x 1525 mm
Price (ex-Showroom Delhi)
Rs. 5 lakh (Expected)
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