Can the Figo Aspire make a mark for itself in the crowded Indian compact sedan segment?
When it is launched on August 12, Ford Figo Aspire will become the latest entrant in the Indian sub-4 metre sedan segment. It will take on Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire, Honda Amaze, Hyundai Xcent and Tata Zest. Built on an all-new platform, the Figo Aspire will be available in both petrol and diesel engine options and also in an automatic transmission variant.
First displayed as a concept vehicle on February 3, 2014, to the media, the Figo Aspire got rave reviews from the public a few days later at the Auto Expo 2014. This year in March, Ford showcased the ready-for-the-road Figo Aspire at its new manufacturing facility in Sanand, Gujarat. (Ford will use its Sanand facility to manufacture the Figo Aspire for both local as well as global markets.) Over the last few months, the Figo Aspire was presented to the public as part of a 25-city roadshow across India.
Ehab Kaoud, the man behind the design of the Figo Aspire, says a lot of effort has gone into creating the car. “The Figo Aspire will make customers look no further in terms of space, style, design and technology,” Kaoud had earlier said in an interview with The Financial Express.
So, what all can prospective customers expect from Ford’s first compact sedan?
As far as design is concerned, the Figo Aspire doesn’t look a compromised sedan. Most sub-4 metre sedans look like an after-thought (in some cases, they are). But the Figo Aspire has been build from ground up, so the boot is neatly integrated.
Although it is compact on the outside, there is generous room inside. The boot space is among the most spacious in its class and the rear seat can comfortably accommodate three large-sized adults. Further, the designers have ensured that every bit of space inside the cabin is well-utilised, so there are ample cubbyholes.
The Figo Aspire will be offered in three engines—1.2-litre and 1.5-litre petrol, and 1.5-litre diesel. The 1.2-litre petrol produces a maximum power of 88PS and has a fuel-efficiency of 18.16 kmpl; the 1.5-litre petrol produces a maximum power of 112PS and has a fuel-efficiency of 17 kmpl; while the 1.5-litre diesel produces a maximum power of 100PS and has an impressive fuel-efficiency of 25.83 kmpl.
While the 1.2-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel are mated to a 5-speed manual transmission, the 1.5-litre petrol will come with a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (first in the segment).
As far as safety is concerned, the Figo Aspire will be the first car in the segment to get twin front airbags as standard, yes even in the entry-level variants.
If Ford India is able to get the pricing right—we expect prices to start from Rs 5.5 lakh, going up to Rs 8.5 lakh—the Figo Aspire will be very competitive in the sub-4 metre sedan segment. Dhruv Behl, editor, AutoX magazine, feels that the Figo Aspire has a lot going for it. “I think it looks the best of the bunch. Plus, it’s well built and the driving experience is in keeping with the Ford DNA—which is to say that it’s quite good. Pricing, of course, will be key. The other key will be the several initiatives being taken by Ford to assure the customer that the after-sales experience will be trouble-free and, more importantly, competitive in terms of running costs.”
Agrees Anil Sharma, principal analyst, IHS Automotive. “The biggest strength for the Figo Aspire is the tailwind from the successful EcoSport launch and the positive word the model has generated for Ford among buyers. Long-term success of a vehicle depends on the ecosystem of retail presence, brand perception and after-sales services. The Figo Aspire may not turn out to be a blockbuster like the EcoSport, but holds promise as a vehicle to take the brand to masses.”