Test Drive Comparison of Ford Aspire Vs Hyundai Xcent Vs Tata Zest
Compact Sedans are the new hatchback that the Indian customer demands. With premium hatchback space along with a boot stuck on it, which gives weekend trips an all new meaning and let’s not forget the sub Rs. 10 lakh price tag, which justifies everything, including, safety, style and efficiency in every way.
Maruti, being the segment leader, started this whole trend yet again after Tata did it with the Indigo almost a decade ago. Honda, Hyundai and Tata followed and today, there is Ford.
Ford is already known with the Ecosport to creating sub 4-meter vehicles while offering the world inside them. Ford Aspire is here today to fight out against the toughest of the lot. All these cars are the best in the segment. Unfortunately the Amaze and Dzire couldn’t make it, but never mind, it’s a story for a different day. Today we find out if the Ford Aspire has what it takes to beat the tough competition of modern age technology backed four-wheelers!
When it comes to styling of these cars all are best of the lot here. However, the Ford with its spectacular looking front end and looks fantastic. Xcent has a bland front end with more of a bumper and less of a grill. Zest with its famous humanity line, and mesh grill still has a lot of character and hold its cards very well in front of the Aspire.
Coming to the side, the Zest has tall stance, which isn’t appealing, but the design flows well to the back, which shows a stubby, but it is well-integrated boot.
Boot integration is best in the Xcent and so is side profile. However, Aspire looks more substantial and sporty at the side, while the boot looks stubby but in a good way. Overall, then? Aspire is a winner, but the Zest actual has more character than the Xcent, which comes last, but isn’t bad-looking car from any angle.
Feature Comparison – Ford Aspire vs Hyundai Xcent Vs Tata Zest
Features war is even more intense than expected. If Xcent offers start-stop button, it misses out projector headlights and LED’s, which Zest offers. All cars have keyless entry, AUX USB, Bluetooth along with automatic climate control and foldable ORVM’s. If Xcent offers 1GB internal storage, the Zest and Aspire both offer MID and distance to empty, which the Hyundai lacks. If Zest and Xcent offer rear A/C vents, Aspire and Xcent offer armrest, which is missing on Zest.
Zest and Xcent offer phone controls, which the Aspire does not have. Meanwhile, all these cars have audio controls on steering wheel. Zest is the only car with touch screen unit, which offers a fantastic sound system. Sound from the Aspire speakers feels fantastic and is in line with the Zest. However, Hyundai comes a notch below while the sound system is good, but not great as the other two.
However, Ford trumps both when it comes to safety as it offers dual airbags as standard on all variants, 6 Airbags on top end variant with along MY KEY. Voice controls are present on Aspire and Zest. Xcent leads the features chart as it offers rear camera along with parking sensor, which Zest has, but Aspire lacks both. Overall, everybody has something to offer and its customer priority to choose what he likes, but there is no denying the fact Ford Aspire and Zest come well loaded on lower variants as well with more the basic and convenient features.
Interior Comparison – Ford Aspire Vs Hyundai Xcent Vs Tata Zest
Interior is where you spend most of your time and first look inside of the new kid on the block, the Aspire shows signs of love at first sight. We hate beige interiors, but this time, Ford has used the right color and high plastic quality to highlight that fact.
Design and feel of the interior is fantastic, but it doesn’t feel built to last like the Xcent and Zest. Aspire does not feel tightly build in some parts while some are stronger such as, the upper part of the dashboard. However, it scores high on width like the Zest, where the Hyundai looses badly.
Quality king is definitely Hyundai, as its design is appealing. Zest is a superb attempt by Tata as it has the right balance of good looking and feeling interior. All these three cars have good space in the rear, but is the Zest, which scores the highest mark in regard.
Xcent and Aspire are pretty much same in this department. However, both cars lose to boot space, which is superior in the Xcent, which it trumps by offering more litres and more practical layout over the two rivals.
Performance Comparison – Ford Aspire vs Hyundai Xcent Vs Tata Zest
All these cars have petrol and diesel engines and we will focus on the petrol engines more because small cars buyers love petrol engines and with today’s price, it is a good deal too. The similarities are only till the capacity, which is 1.2l. After that, the Xcent and Aspire have naturally aspirated 4-valve engines, meanwhile the Zest has 2-valves per cylinder and turbocharger. Aspire engine is way too tall geared and the engine isn’t responsive either as it feels dull. 1.2 aluminum mill revs to the 6500 redline cleanly, but without urgency.
Power comes in after 3500 RPM where the camshafts kick in, and post that power is there till 6000 RPM. As you can imagine there is good top-end power, but even our expressways aren’t enough to extract every single horse from it. All of this makes the NVH levels of Aspire petrol very impressive indeed. Aspire delivers good fuel efficiency in return as it delivers 12 km/l in city and 16 km/l on highway.
Xcent engine has good low and mid range torque which is great for city and highway and but is better than the Aspire. However, it isn’t as punchy as the Zest Revotron
Xcent has a good mid range and low-end power, but it lacks top-end power but light weight body helps it segment standard top-speed of 160 km/hr. Xcent is also very refined, but the engine lacks character it feels like the flywheel and crankshaft are made out of glass you don’t feel anything except the increasing pace of the car. NVH levels are fantastic, wish it has mid and top biased power band instead of low and mid range.
Diesel powered Xcent also has very good punch and does not feel out of breath because of extra pulling power over the Grand i10. Wee bit of lag and post that it shows the impressive mid range and good top-end power, as it maxes out around 170 km/hr and may be more. Xcent delivers 13 km/l in the city and 17 km/l on highway for petrol, diesel offers 17 km/l in city and 22 km/l on highway.
Aspire has a very tall geared engine which translates to slightly cumbersome driveability in the city and even on the highway, it’s only awake after 3500 RPM in top overdrive gear
Zest on the other hand, seems to deliver the most punch and very quickly, thanks to 2-valve layout, C-segment like torque and turbo kicking in as early as 1300 RPM. It maxes out quickly around 150 km/hr, which is a good thing, thanks to shorter gearing and 2-valve system. Zest offers three riding modes and they work very well.
Sport makes the engine very eager and you can instantly feel it as all horses out and running at full capacity. Eco mode delivers best fuel efficiency while City (default) mode gives you best in class driveability, which is unmatched by all its rivals. 1000 RPM shift in every gear is all it takes to keep the car in pace with fast-moving traffic.
Revotron engine is not an enthusiastic motor as it does not rev with urgency nor is top-end friendly. Mileage isn’t that great either as it deliver 10 km/l in city and 14.6 km/l on the highway. Diesel powered Zest is the 1.3 Quadrajet, which we all know is our national engine. The motor has good driveability and a very punchy mid range in the 90 PS variant. Mated to an AMT gearbox, the gearbox is a little bit jerky, but it great when driven sedately. Diesel delivers 16 km/l in city and 20 km/l on highway.
Dynamics – Ford Aspire vs Hyundai Xcent Vs Tata Zest
So there is a Ford in the test and this where we tell who drives the best and you would think Ford trumps the competition? Well, you are in for a surprise this time. The Ford chassis balance as always is brilliant, the ride quality is even better. However, start pushing the car and there is no feedback from the steering at all.
It doesn’t tell you what it’s doing, but the steering accurate enough. Ride quality may be very good, but that has effected the way the Ford handles at the raggedy edge. It isn’t confidence inspiring and forgiving as previous Fords.
Xcent being a Hyundai has shown some serious dedication in this department. Ride quality is brilliant with no or less vertical movement. Chassis wise it isn’t exciting, but it does the job well of controlling body control. Steering weighs up nicely dead center you could actually push this Hyundai at high speeds and in corners, but it is no fun and even the edge it feels composed enough. Overall, a great attempt by Hyundai,but no where sporty as the other two.
The eye opener in this department is the Zest here. With the front axle tuned so well, the way it turns, the way steering responds to inputs, the feedback, the accuracy is just spot on. Balance in corners is brilliant and straight line stability is from a segment above, thanks to higher kerb weight and perfect spring tuning so it absorb bad roads yet providing rock solid stability.
Zest dynamics and forgiving chassis with intense amount of grip and stability reminds us that we are truly in an international car but it has all benefits of domestic car manufacturer, double whammy indeed
The tall and high center of gravity gives it a wee bit of body roll, but that’s barely noticeable and we are nit picking here. High center of gravity allows the car to be flicked around more, which is instantly noticeable in the city and highway too something we noticed in the Bolt too.
Overall with brilliant ride quality, and amazing steering setup, it’s the topper in this test. All cars have good brakes here with good initial bite at the pedal and progressive post that and can shed high speeds very easily. The Xcent and Zest have good tyres, but the Ford has just about average tyres.
To sum it up then, it is very difficult. All these are competent in their on way. While Ford’s focus on safety and value for money along with decent performance is something worth appreciating. The Hyundai is also here with its usual neutral and comfortable character and slightly more features along with average performance makes it a very strong performer too.
Let’s not forget bang for buck is also Xcent’ forte. While Xcent has very little to fault with, as it has a strong package. The Ford has short comings such as a wee bit of cost cutting inside the cabin and interior build quality is not upto the mark.
However, Zest doesn’t go Scott free either, as it has poor stowage inside the cabin and Revotron motor isn’t enthusiastic, but does the job for the masses. Zest also has all the parameters here, such as safety, build quality inside-out, performance, features and the best part has to be the dynamics.
There is even one more card, which the Zest has and that is value. Zest is easily cheaper by 33,000 and 38,000 from the Hyundai and Ford respectively and the Zest continues to offer even more value in each area.
Considering that fact and we know the Zest is cheaper to buy, as well its quite a deal indeed. However, if you want the best petrol engine, it is the Xcent. Diesel Ford Aspire is a strong contender, but its competitor just based on performance isn’t here. That makes the Zest stand out with its unique combo and packs, more value than the competition and hence it wins this test.
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