Hot wheels: You’ve desired, now Aspire

Hot wheels: You’ve desired, now Aspire
Highlights

Hot wheels: You’ve Desired, Now Aspire. In 2014 Auto Expo in Delhi, Ford- the purveyors of totemic, ballistic muscle cars - showed off a concept of a Figo. It was, much to our surprise, distinctly un-totemic and un-ballistic. That\'s because it was a compact sedan.

In 2014 Auto Expo in Delhi, Ford- the purveyors of totemic, ballistic muscle cars - showed off a concept of a Figo. It was, much to our surprise, distinctly un-totemic and un-ballistic. That's because it was a compact sedan.

The reason for the ballsy move goes a decade back, when Tata had made the Indigo, a car that showed everyone else that not only a sedan can be transformed into an estate, but a hatch can also be metamorphosed into a sedan. In a country as uncanny as India the idea had struck the right chords, as the car was relieved from the excise duty for being less than the four-metre mark.

But then, what got the maximum out of the idea wasn’t the Indigo, it was the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire. When Maruti swelled the butt of its looker Swift, enthusiasts like us disapproved the design but couldn’t argue on practicality. A decade down the line, compact sedan became a trendsetter and players like Honda, Hyundai and even Tata invested in this idea with their products Amaze, Xcent and Zest, respectively. While Amaze became a stiff rival to the later launched Swift Dzire, Xcent and Zest didn’t fare that well.

Finally, the last one to the party is the new Ford Figo Aspire. Like in every story the last one knows the game the best, the Figo has scored exponentially well. We drove it, and we loved it.

Design: You know you are looking at a Figo Aspire when you see the Aston Martin-ish trapezoidal grille and elongated headlamps. Ford is making a signature of their grilles and this baby sedan makes sure it carries the visage of that legacy. It is the best looking sedan in the segment.

The drive

Picture the scene -- it is early morning in Udaipur. The sun is already burning the morning mist from the lush, cypress-studded hills, and three of us; a journalist who had flown down from Delhi, a senior spokesperson of Ford India and me, are on the move from the ancient looking Trident Hotel in the heart of the city, via the medieval walled town, heading to The Leela Palace, probably taking the longest route. The road is as clear as the achingly blue sky, the windshields of the fresh Ford Figo Aspire make way for illumines interiors, sunglasses are on, and a smooth soundtrack is coming from the 1.2 litre Ti-VCT petrol engine.

Stop to admire the view and the car's powerful brakes equipped with ABS and EBD, will bring you to a quick, smooth halt. Get going again and, thanks to its modified cylinder head intake port, it will only take you a breath under a few couple of seconds to hit 60kmph. You wouldn’t feel frisky, the car is possibly the safest one in the segment. Who else will give you curtain airbags on the top-end option?

While we reached a top-speed of about 170kmph, the girl who called shotgun dosed off. First impression was- Oh my! She trusts my driving only to figure out, she trusted the car they had built. The credits should go to the revised suspension, there is almost no movement inside the cabin and the insulation took my breath away.

And better it was to learn that twin airbags came as standard (for the last time I heard about something like that I was driving a Toyota Etios, but that wasn’t a car in this B-segment). But these aren’t anything you’d be bothered, for when normal keeps you on the line in some measure of comfort? In other words, with the wind in your hair, the sun on your face and 88PS under your foot, all is very much right with the world. Floor it and you realise why the car is capable of beyond meeting the eye.

Inside the car you have quite many smart features like the MyFord Dock where you could store, mount and charge mobile phones, et al. When not in use, the dock can be closed out of sight. The cars are also equipped with SYNC with AppLink similar to the Eco Sport and the new Fiesta. We could control the phone, entertainment and apps hands-free using preset voice commands. The sync also gave us access to information about nearby attractions and food destinations.

And above all, if the vehicle experiences a serious collision, Emergency Assistance will use SYNC and a Bluetooth-paired phone to automatically call emergency responders and provide information about our vehicle and location. This had made us check for the car again, if we were driving a BMW.

Talk about the BMW, there is a smart key, or how they call it, the Ford’s MyKey. With MyKey, Figo owners can set sensible restrictions for drivers with less experience. For instance, one can activate a maximum speed limit, or a persistent seatbelt minder that mutes the audio system volume and continues to play a chime until the front-seat occupants fasten their seatbelts… so cool!

Switch to the diesel variant, you will know it is different. Believe us, it’s mightily powerful, we clocked a top speed of 188kmph, and we weren’t scared, the brakes and the steering gave us the confidence to push it further. It is equipped with a 1.5-liter TDCi diesel engine, churning out 100 PS of power and 215 Nm of torque. Tuned to provide peak torque at just 1,750 rpm, this engine provided highly responsive performance for city driving, while recording fuel economy of 25.8 km/l (company claimed).

Verdict

The Figo Aspire is fabulous. Ford waited and has treated us with a slew of offings and features, making the Figo Aspire, what every young urban Indian must aspire for. The car would be officially launched in mid-August and would be priced from Rs 5 lakh onwards.

Augustin Kurian

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