First off, bold decision by Ford to feature Bollywood’s ‘bad man’ Gulshan Grover in its new advertisement for the Figo Aspire. The ad shows Grover opening the boot of his Aspire and unzipping a duffel bag, all set to a dramatic background score. You are led to believe the bag is full of diamonds or drugs or perhaps even stacks of cash…come on, it’s Gulshan Grover! Except, in the bag are just a couple of potted plants. A well-meaning, real-world Grover then talks about how it’s easy to form wrong impressions and leads onto Ford and how its products are ‘wrongly’ associated with high maintenance costs.
Well, we’ll be running this Aspire diesel for the next couple of months and be rest assured, we’ll keep a hawk’s eye on how much it costs to run and how much it costs to keep it running. Oddly enough, our car required an out-of-turn visit to the service station within a week of joining our fleet. Ours is not an all-new car and came to us with over 7,000km on the odometer but, even so, we were quite concerned to see the ‘Service icon’ light up and the engine switch to limp home mode (limiting revs to 2,500rpm) all in week 1. Ford was quick to address the problem but hasn’t yet disclosed what exactly went wrong. For the record, this little adventure didn’t cost us any money.
After a week or more of driving the Aspire with one eye on the check light in the fear of it lighting up again, life has settled to normal. For me, any journey, big or small, in the Aspire starts with first placing my phone in the ‘jaws’ of the cleverly designed phone dock atop the centre console. It’s a brilliant alternative to having an onboard touchscreen and, in fact, I prefer this arrangement to most touchscreen systems and definitely to the old-school dot-matrix screen of the top-spec Aspire Titanium+. That the phone holder is positioned high up is a boon for people like me who rely on their phones for navigation. I’m most comfortable with the Android Auto app on my Motorola that reorients the screen with big tabs for music, navigation and phone functions. The only trouble is the phone dock is a bit of a stretch away so I have to really reach out to operate these functions at long enough traffic halts. To be honest, I’m not entirely satisfied with the driving position as a whole; I find myself sitting further back in the Aspire than I do in other cars. In my books, the Aspire is a model that would greatly benefit from telescopic adjust for the steering wheel. The fabric seats could be firmer too, thank you very much.
The Aspire may be a new entrant to the long-term fleet but it’s already a regular on the highways leading out of Mumbai. And over the two Pune and two Nashik round trips it’s been part of so far, the Aspire has delivered the goods when talking fuel economy. The car has delivered a best figure of 18.6kpl (indicated), though the highway average is about 17.9kpl. So, despite a small 40-litre fuel tank, you can cover solid ground without needing to stop to tank up on diesel. Mind you, these are figures with only a single occupant and minimal luggage on board, but they are impressive nonetheless. But it’s not only the Aspire’s frugality that I’ve taken a liking to – the overall driving experience is rather pleasant too. The 1.5-litre engine, for one, is an example of a small diesel engine done right. With minimal turbo lag, a linear power delivery and good part throttle responses, what’s not to like? Sure, it does get loud when pushed but for the most part, the noise levels are more than acceptable. I also like how the Aspire has been tackling Mumbai’s ever dug-up roads with a soft touch.
But just as I made my peace with the fact that its steering isn’t as crisp as Fords of old, came the launch of the Aspire Sports Edition version; one with a tweaked suspension and larger wheels. And as a ‘regular’ Aspire user that is a problem for me because Ford does know a thing or two about making fun cars. Remember the Fiesta S?
I haven’t drive it yet, but if the Sports Edition lives up to its sporty billing, I’m going to be a frustrated, frustrated man.