Official Review: Ford Aspire Facelift

Official Review: Ford Aspire Facelift

Compact Sedan category is one of the hottest selling category in the Indian market. With cars such as the Swift Dzire, Honda Amaze, Tata Tigor, VW Ameo, Ford launched the updated 2018 Ford Aspire Facelift. While the outgoing model was one of the best cars in the segment, it failed to appeal the mass. With many revisions made to the car, and some additions of features, Ford has high ambitions for the success of their only sedan in the market. Does the Aspire has everything which is required to take on the segment leader? Read our review Ford Aspire Facelift to know more.

Ford Aspire

Pros:

  • Powerful and refined engines
  • Decent build quality, although not in the league of the older Fords, but better than the competitors
  • Engaging and fun to drive, remains stable at higher speeds
  • Well balanced suspension setup
  • Spacious and comfortable from inside
  • Best in class infotainment system
  • Airbags and ABS + EBD across the range. The top variant gets 6 airbags
  • Good styling, proportionate side profile
  • Feature rich. Auto headlamps, keyless go, reversing camera, and what not…
The new bumper and alloy wheels compliments the overall look of the car

Cons:

  • Boring and old looking instrument cluster
  • Rear seat may not be comfortable for everyone
  • The design feels a little dull when compared with the new compact sedans
  • Older Ford like handling. Driving enthusiasts, look for something else
  • Missing features such as the height adjustable seatbelts, which were available in the outgoing model
  • Third passenger in the rear is a tight fit. The width of the car makes it suitable only for two passengers in the rear
  • The 1.2L Dragon 3-cylinder is peppy but the 4 pot engines offered by Maruti and Hyundai are superior
  • Overall visibility remains a concern. The A-pillars are thick and the ORVM are a tad too small for the Indian roads
  • Missing essentials such as a full size spare wheel and dead pedal

Exteriors

The Aspire facelift gets an updated fascia upfront and the changes include all new smoked up headlamps, new front grill and a revised bumper design. A new colour, ‘White Gold’ is also introduced. While the outgoing model had minimal use of the chrome, this one is loaded with chrome inserts, which according to us, does enhance the overall look of the car. The grille gets a thicker chrome border and tiny hexagonal elements finished in a dark silver / gray.

The smoked up headlamps with chrome inserts look classy

The smoked up headlamps look better than the outgoing car’s full chrome units. The swept back headlamps complete the look along with the bulges on the bonnet which make the car look aggressive. The number plate housing, on the bumper, now has a new design and sloping lines align with the chrome trims of the fog lamps. The air dam is located below the number plate and lower grille has two slats. The front bumper lip does give an impression of low ground clearance but when it comes in contact with any object, it folds, thus causing no issue at all. The windshield washers are placed on the bonnet which should have been hidden nicely near the wipers.

The side profile remains same as before except the new alloy wheels

From the side, only thing which has changed is the alloy wheels design. The car now comes with 15-inch alloy wheel with a new look. The top two variants also get fatter tyres than the outgoing car. The tyre size is 195/55/15 as against 175/65/14 which were available on the outgoing model. There are no request sensors on the door handles, despite the addition of keyless go, which is a big downer from Ford’s side. he C pillar extends a little more than what is common, causing the boot to look very small from the sides.

The rear too has minimal change. The bumper is updated and the tyre looks fatter than before. Nothing else! We however, still like the contemporary looking boot with some classy inserts such as the chrome strip running across. The blue oval is nicely placed in the centre and is nicely integrated with the chrome strip. Unlike the other cars of this segment, the registration plate is placed on the bumper and not the boot lid. A key slot to open the boot is given in the centre of the boot lid along with other badges on both sides of the lid. Do note that there is not electromagnetic tail gate opener switch on the lid. You can open the boot lid by using the key, remote or a button placed in side the cabin. The tail lamps are neat and compact, and do not take alot of space. The plastic cladding at the lower side of the bumper looks nice and also reduces the visual bulk.

The updates to the rear is limited to the new bumper and thicker section tyres

The boot capacity is rated at 359-Litres, which may not be segment leading figures, but offer enough space for a decent amount of luggage. The boot is square shaped and the aperture is wide, making it easy to load it with those heavy luggage bags. The sill is a little high from the ground, but we don’t think that it will be a major issue.

Interiors

While the steering is chunky and nice to hold, it surely misses out on a leather wrap

The Ford Aspire comes with a rather basic looking 3 spoke steering wheel which is bulky and nice to hold. It is made up of soft touch material and a leather wrap is not missed at any point of time. For the first timers, the position of the steering wheel may feel too close to the chest but once you get used to it, you discover that it is indeed very easy to use the steering when it is in close proximity. In fact it is not only easy to use, but also very sporty and you enjoy it when you are tackling those sharp turns. The audio controls are provided on the left side of the steering spoke and the horn pad is quite easy to use as well.

All the controls and switches, such as the power window switches, ORVM adjustment switch, etc are all well within the reach, however the power window switches are not backlit which can cause trouble in the night. The MID controls are placed on the right side stalk and are easy to use, however there is no option of going backwards in the menu. So if you miss anything, you will have to keep pressing the button till that option again comes on the display. Its just like a no U-turn on the highway.

The instrument console looks too basic and dated

The driver”s seat is 6-way adjustable and all the levers are easy to use, but the height adjustment lever feels very fragile. There are no bottle holders at the rear and the only bottle holder available to the rear passengers is in the centre console. There is an armrest for rear passengers with no cup holders and the head rests are adjustable. At the front, there are sufficient number of bottle and cup holders along with space to keep some nick nacks in. There is a tray provided to keep the mobile phone beneath the ac control panel but any phone larger than 6-inches wont fit in there.

The front door opens wide and the front seats are a comfortable place to be in

While the outgoing car’s top variant came with leather seats, only fabric upholstery is available across the range in the face-lifted model. Otherwise, the seats are comfortable and offer great support. The car now comes with glove box illumination, and a new 6.5 inch touch screen music system, which clearly is better than its rivals.

The rear seats remain similar and there is no change. Addition of bottle holder at the back would have been appreciated. Overall the two-toned, beige and black cabin not only feels great, but is a comfortable place to be in.

The new infotainment system is one of the best in the segment

The 6.5 inch touchscreen features the Ford’s latest SYNC 3 system along with Apple CarPlay and AndroidAuto. The music system gets a 4 speaker setup and sounds good. The sound quality certainly as an edge over its rivals.

Drive and Handling

The Aspire comes with three engine options; a 1.2-L 3-cylinder Dragon series petrol engine, a 1.5-L 3-cylinder Dragon series petrol engine and a 1.5-L 4-cylinder TDCi engine.
The 1,194 cc, 3-cylinder petrol engine develops 95 BHP @ 6,500 rpm and peak torque of 120 Nm @ 4,250 rpm and is paired to a 5-speed MT. Unlike the older 1.2-L 4-cylinder petrol engine, this new engine has a strong low-end and feels very lively when pushed hard. The power delivery is linear and the engine revs freely till 6,500 revs. The engine is not only powerful, but at the time is also very refined. At idle, the engine noise is hardly audible inside the cabin and very little vibrations are felt inside the cabin. The ARAI claimed mileage is 20.4 km/l for the lower 3 variants and 19.4 km/l for the top Titanium and Plus trims.

Ford debuted it’s new 1.2-Lite Dragon Engine in the Freestyle

The other petrol engine option that comes with the Aspire is the 1.5-L 3-cylinder Dragon petrol engine, which is also available with the EcoSport. This engine only comes mated to a 6-speed AT and is the most powerful engine option in the entire segment. The engine churns out 121 BHP @ 6,500 rpm and a peak torque of 150 NM @ 4,500 revs. The claimed fuel efficiency of this car is 16.3 km/l. We did not get a chance to drive this variant yet, and hence have reserved our comments on it for sometime later.

The tried and tested 1.5-L TDCi engine

The only diesel option which comes with the car is a 1.5-L TDCi 4-cylinder engine, which is considered as one of the best diesel engines in the market. This engine comes mater to an all new 5-speed MT, which is a smooth shifting unit, unlike the outgoing gearbox. The clutch on the diesel variant is light but as a long travel. The 1.5-L TDCi makes 99 BHP @ 3,750 rpm and 215 Nm @ 1,750 – 3000 rpm. If we were to choose, the diesel engine will be our preferred choice. The engine pulls strongly from the lower rpms and has a linear power delivery. The turbo lag is hardly noticeable and this engine makes life extremely easy in city traffic and you do not need to touch that gear stick very often. Take it to the highway and that is where this engine performs its best. The ARAI claimed mileage is 26.1 km/l. There is a diesel clatter which is always heard inside the cabin but this is nothing to get worried about as the music system can easily mask that sound. However, push the revs higher and you will hear a very sporty sound from this diesel engine which does soothe your ears.

The suspension setup on this car is a little stiff but does not make the ride uncomfortable. The bumps on the roads are absorbed nicely by the shockers if they are handled properly by the driver. Go a little fast over them and they can be easily felt inside the cabin. The suspension noise is also evident inside the cabin. A little more dampening of the suspension should be considered by FORD. At the higher speeds, undulations on the road are comfortably masked and the car feels very stable. The body roll is well contained and the driver can confidently push the car into the tight corners.

The rear visibility is not something great to talk about

All the variants come standard with 2 airbags, ABS, EBD, rear parking sensors, speed warning system, driver and passenger seat belt reminder, etc while the top variants gets 6-aribags. The automatic variant gets ESP, hill descent control along with standard features.

Our Verdict

The Ford Aspire has not managed to lead the sales chart but it surely is one of the best cars of the segment. With the facelift, most of the shortcomings of the Aspire has been taken care of. The car is not only feature rich, but is a much more superior package than before. This is one of those cars which offer the perfect combo of ride and handling balance, with adequate power and fuel efficiency figures. Another thing about the Aspire which is sets it apart from others is the fact that this car is easy to drive inside the city and is an excellent highway performer at the same time.

If you are looking for something which has good boot space, roomy interiors, good build quality, a powerful engine, and a fun to drive nature of the car, don’t look for anything else but the Ford’s Aspire. This will be a choice which will not make you regret in your life.

The turn indicators bulge out of the ORVMs, making them prone to get damaged

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Read also:

Official Review: Hyundai Venue

Maruti S-Presso: 5 things to know

Diesel Engine Smoke: What Colour Means What?

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