Motor Sport’s long-term test-car, my Ford Sierra EFi XR4 x 4 (not a Sapphire booted saloon as illustrated in the January issue, but a five-door Hatchback) has now completed 5000 miles, with very little to report. Having had very good service from three previous XR4 x 4s, I look forward to similar reliability from this September 1990, startlingly bright Tasman blue, 2-litre Sierra. The body shape being virtually unchanged, if I am mistaken for a rubber goods rep or whatever, so be it…
In my previous reference to this new test-car (January, p37) I said I was disappointed to discover that it did not have the 16-valve twin-cam engine. I was wrong in this, because the 2.0 multiple-valve DOHC engine is not intended for the Sierra, but the new Escort, later this year. How has the 8-valve Sierra shaped up so far? It has a fierce clutch and notchy lower-gear engagement like the bigger-engined cars, unless care is taken. The formerly efficient front-door ‘keeps’ are defeated on the new car by a slight hill, making exit uncomfortable, and it seems odd that, on a car with good anti-theft locks and number-stencilled glass, the wheel-nuts are no longer of the anti-thief kind, although surely anyone out to steal Ford wheels would have armed himself with the necessary removal socket, anyway? The driver’s door continues to shut indifferently, but at the free service the loose rear interior lamp was rectified easily.
At 3300 miles the n/s front Uniroyal began to slowly deflate, but got us home. The local NTC depot pronounced it the result of impact damage and put on the spare. I did not recall such an incident and the Uniroyal people have willingly agreed to examine the faulty tyre. To replace it, as no Uniroyal, Michelin (in which I have faith), or Avon (good, and British) tyres were in stock, I was supplied with a Dunlop SP Sport D8, price £94.25, or considerably more than a Dunlop Formula Ford racing tyre. The next problem was an iced-up screen-wash bottle, at the start of the Great February Freeze-up. A £2.00 refill with anti-freeze failed to cure it and with the M40 ahead, I sought a Ford Dealer. The Witney Motor Co obligingly unthawed things in their workshop at a charge of £10, while I sheltered in their waiting-room, the TV screen depicting actors engaged in fatuous games, no doubt for high fees, while the rest of the world went about its wintry work! I set out again rejoicing in full vision. But only for three miles! It seems that the abnormally low temperature had caught out many vehicles, and I had a miserable Motorway run.
It does seem odd, though, that the washbottle cannot be placed in the hottest part of the under-bonnet space, so that antifreeze would be required only to safeguard pipes and jets; I understand the problem is exacerbated on the Ford because part of the wash-bottle hangs down below the n/s wing.. Next day the Kingston Ford Agent confirmed that there was really no cure. For the return journey I equipped myself with a garden-squirt. However, in such conditions 4WD and ABS were invaluable, when 2WD cars were coming to a standstill up every slight gradient which had been thoughtlessly left ungritted, such as at the approach to the N Circular roundabout. Back home, the grip of Ford 4×4 plus Uniroyal Rally treads made it possible to restart on my ice-covered drive, which has defeated most 2WD cars under such conditions no matter how long and fast the run-in. In normal driving, like a Yuppie rather than a pseudo rally-driver, (but perhaps a Yuppie in a Sierra is a contradiction in terms?) the economy of modern 2-litre fuel-injected engines is reflected by mpg figures of 30mpg, of unleaded petrol, and in 3575 miles since the first service top-up the dip-stick shows no oil required. So far, so very good. Another report at 20,000 miles? — WB