The 2018 Ford Aspire ups the fun-to-drive factor considerably. It gets a new petrol motor and a few added features. But is that enough to be considered a worthy opponent to the popular Maruti Dzire and the rising-challenger Honda Amaze? The compact sedan segment just got more interesting.
The Quint was invited to Jodhpur by Ford India to test drive the 2018 Ford Aspire. We got to spend time with both variants of the car - the diesel model as well as the new petrol model.
What we like
Fun-to-drive factor with petrol and diesel variants
Good ride and handling
Feels solidly built
Air conditioning is a chiller
What we don't like
Misses out on a few features
Boot space isn't great, has intrusive beams
No cupholders / charging point at the rear
Ford Aspire Diesel
The Ford Aspire diesel comes with a tried-and-tested 1.5 litre, four-cylinder diesel engine that puts out 100PS of power and 215 Nm of torque. This motor has always been know for its punchiness. It gets better now thanks to a new gearbox. The 5-speed manual improves fuel efficiency as well as pick up.
Engine noise has been contained and at normal speeds you don't hear it much in the cabin. However, at speeds of between 100 and 120 kmph, you begin to hear a bit of a drone. This engine could do with a 6th gear (the same gearbox is used on the Ford EcoSport ecoboost too), which will quieten it down.
The diesel Aspire is responsive. And addictive. You will find yourself pushing the pedal every now and then just to feel that surge of torque from the motor. Overtaking is a breeze. The well-weighted electric power steering and supple suspension add to the fun-to-drive factor of this car.
Fuel efficiency is a claimed 26.1 kmpl now, which is an improvement over the previous car. On our drive, it showed over 21 kmpl on the display constantly.
Ford Aspire Petrol
The Aspire petrol gets a new engine in place of the earlier 1.2 four cylinder motor. It now gets a 1.2 litre, three-cylinder engine which makes more power and torque. It puts out 96PS of power and 120 Nm of torque, making it one of the peppiest motors in the segment. This engine first made an appearance in the Ford Freestyle.
The 5-speed gearbox too is new and feels quite sporty. Where the earlier Aspire petrol had a very linear torque delivery, this motor feels a lot quicker. One can now downshift and overtake with confidence and it is quite free revving.
That said, there is a trade off. At high rpm, you do hear the three-cylinder thrum from the motor, although it isn't too intrusive.
Ford claims a fuel efficiency of 20.4 kmpl with this motor on the Aspire. Driven with a light foot it's possible to match those figures. On our drive though, since we were having fun pushing this motor, the display hovered around 13.5 kmpl.
Ford also has a 1.5 litre, three-cylinder engine with a six-speed automatic transmission on the Ford Aspire. That comes only in one variant though - the Titanium spec, and is the most expensive at Rs 8.49 lakh ex-showroom. It's the same engine-transmission combination as the Ford EcoSport petrol.
The Ford Aspire has been updated with a few more features. While the top-end Titanium Plus still comes with six-airbags (the only car in its segment to do so), it now gets a few more additions.
Like the Ford Freestyle, the Aspire gets a Sync 3, touch-screen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple Car Play. A reverse camera and parking sensors are standard (these were optional earlier). It gets passive keyless entry, push-button ignition, auto-dimming mirror, rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlamps.
Yet, buyers would probably want more considering the competition offers them. Missing features include LED headlamps, daytime running lights, cruise control and rear AC vents - features present on competing cars.
What we think
The Ford Aspire is a driver's car. It's for enthusiasts who love the way the car handles when pushed. The petrol motor too is now quite punchy, compared to the laid-back feel of the earlier car. It's always been spacious and comfortable. The Aspire continues to boast of excellent ride quality, making it comfortable over bad roads. It's a pretty solidly built car for those who love to drive.
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