How big is the engine in this thing, man?” asks my curious passenger as the Aspire winds off an on-ramp onto a stretch of highway, amassing a great deal of speed in a short span. He asks because he owns a similarly sized car and, even just as a passenger, he’s never once felt a shove quite like that. “It’s just a 1.5,” I tell him, soothing his ego a bit. “But it’s got 100hp and 215Nm, so it’s pretty damn quick.”
And that’s true, the 1.5 TDCi is immense fun, offering big-car pace in a compact and light package. Many times I’ve found myself, at night when traffic has thinned out, letting it loose a little bit; and yes, I agree with my colleagues when they say it’s not quite as good to drive as the Fords of old, but it’s still a lot of fun. The best part is, fun aside, it’s a diesel motor in a lightweight car – so, despite a slight drop in the car’s fuel economy thanks to my traffic-heavy daily commute (not to mention the heady blasts we go on when there’s no traffic), it still manages to return close to 15kpl.
But it’s on my slow commute that I spend most time with it, and unfortunately it’s here that it starts to get a little annoying. It’s really tricky to get this car off the line smoothly. Not only is the clutch heavy, its travel is quite long and the release point is very late, so you almost always get a jerk or a hiccup moving away from a halt. I’ve learned to drive around the problem now, but I can’t help feel it will eventually result in a worn-out clutch plate. Then there’s the fact that the auto climate control (a welcome feature) sets itself to the highest temperature and max fan speed by default every time you start the car, which was fun to explain to my aforementioned passenger when he first got in.
Given that we’re at the heart of the monsoon, however, I have a slightly bigger concern. The interior’s lower half is all beige, and the car came to us with no mats – not fabric, not rubber – and this could get quite messy during this time. And though we’ve just had it in our fleet for the last 3,000km, the odometer just ticked past 10,000, and the tyres don’t seem to have been changed since day one – so they’re all but bald at this point.
Ford, however, has very kindly offered to rectify both these problems during the car’s service, which we’ve just packed it off for, so I look forward to its return, and a few more late-night spins out on the town.