Driving the New FWD Ford Escort

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Driving the New FWD Ford Escort

THE NEW Feted Es,ort which replaces the old front-engined:rear-drive model (of such great rally fame) is of much importance to Ford-of-Britain and they expect that it will lift them from Home Sales leaders to remain top ot the market but with thee-,’ models — Cortina. Fiesta and Escort, in front. They already have a sporting version of the new car in the pipelim, the 96 b.h.p. Weber-kJ three-door Escort. and one may expect more competiton MICCV:SCS from these changed-design Escorts. So I was interested to drive one of the new cars in England and Wales during the period of the Motor Shiwy. The model submitted tor test was the 1.6 GI. five-door I fatchback — eli are Hatchbacks tinkss with Estate-car bodies. After the expectations 1 had expressed tOr the new model I was at first somewhat dIsappointed. The gearbox. using a short concertina-gait tired lever, functions with the smoothness expected In. Ford gearboxes. bin it needed an unpleasant effort to depre, the lever and get it over to the len against the strong spring-loading leirward terse reVerse the gate es sprung to the right, or higher. cog locations and the clutch needed care. as 011 sonic hestas. flwre is not the immediately apparent interior space emanating from clic transverse.engine FWD configuration that is so obvious and pleasant in the Austin Metro and although one tolerates some noise from almost all small ears, I had hoped kir a little less from The Escort’s clever new hemi-head, single °AL-camshaft CATI engine at a Motorway cruising pace. when there to a deep buzzing background to the sound level. Then there was the considerable kick-up, loud bump-thump, and rather lurchy, lively ride from the new independent strut-CUM…MS rear stispensit continuing the older Ford tradition col a lumpv ride, from the hack springing. .1.ord sav they have damper mods_ In hand A bit el I lydragas is called for, Nrhaps, However. overall. this is an endearing little car. It is comfortable, MCC 10 drive. although with rack-and-pinion steering which is somewhat vague around the straight-ahead position. whtch is also heavy for parkin, just over 3′, turns. lock to lock). This steering is, indeed, not exact, light but it has good castor-return. There is very useful performance. The instrumentation is clear. in Germanic fashion, but I could have done with a tachometer th place of the big clock, the seconds’-hand of which rushed round a thought disconcertingly. Ford has gone to triple cranked control-stalks. with which 1 at first got as confused as if I were in a Fiat. The small r.h. one is for putting on the side and headlamp, but the latter have to be dipped with the l.h stalk, which is also used TO COMM’ the direction-indicators (which I prefer to have on the right, on a British cart. This I.h. stalk also operates the horn. and it is not always where it is wanted, or doing what was intended. The equal-length r.h. stalk control is for wipe wash and intermittent screen.wiping. There is a simple two-lever control with vertical quadrants, very conveniently placed for the driver to adjust the heating ventilatory system. supported by a three-speed fan, and there are central and extremity facia vents with neat directional adjusters. Cornering is sale and sure, with no particular front-drive instincts, and the disc drutn brakes are effective Itee hack seat tOlds down but the tail-cill is not as low as it might be, from the load-humping aspect. All manner DI

The speedometer Is easy to read. although there interior stowages supplement a lockable cubbyhole that took my camera, and flimsy but large front-door bins. There is a coin-tray under the facia, and facia shelves and open cubbies are provided. Below the Ford radio and above the open stowages is a lidded, pull-out smoker’s companion. The pips for internally locking the doors are impossible to lift with the fingers, necessitating use of the handles to open the doors, and a driver cannot reach the rear ones! The Hatchback lid can be opened without using the key and it rises high enough to stand under,

restrained by gas-struts. The he requires propping open; et is rear-hinged.

is nit Me m.p.h. figure hut. again. It IS Vet, surprising not to have a tachometer on this model. There are ten warning lights placed above and below the fuel-gauge and water-heat gauges. these lights including tine that lights up i it the sump oil. level is too low perhaps because the dipstick is difficult to tind • and another il the front brake-pads are unduly worn. Others indicate low coolant andw screen washer fluid levels—luxury car stuff! The fuel-gauge takes time to give a reading but is steady-indicating thereafter, until it gets into the last quarter. The opening glass-panel stains, which :an be tilted at thereat if required. .d which can he covered from below with a sliding sun-blind is a

good piece of equipment: it is wound open and shut. The engine started reasonably well on automatic choke, if not always instantaneously. It got rather alarmingly hot in traffic. The car has a rather obtrusive rear towing hook and, of course. a Hatchback rear panel wipe-wash.

This 1.6 New Escort GL gut along very quickly without effort has with that unwanted buzz, and there were also seine unlocated body ranks. From brim-full to the fuel gauge-needle indicating refuelling to be required took me 246 not unduly economical miles and with this kind of driving and a great deal of starting up and short-haul running I got a useful 36.2 m.p.g. of 4-star. There is a big angled fuel filler on the ois, unflapped. The tank holds 8.8 gallons. It is in its ability to cover the ground while retaining the one-piece feel of a good car that the 1.6 Escort scores. Its 80 80 mm. actual, there is a 0.02′ uversquareness, alloy-head o.h.c. engine, gives 79 DIN b.h.p. at 5,800 r.p.m. and will turn its five-bearing crankshaft safely up to 6,100 r.p.m.. with a peak of 6.500 for short bursts, and it has a torque of 92 lb. Ii. at 3,000 r.p.m. enabling it to give good top-gelir pick up and to run in traffic on that ratio. At the coal 70 m.p.h. it is runMng at 3.626 r.p.m.. so is very well within itself. Taking it to its lull revving capabilities this great new power unit propels the New E.scort at 35..58. and 06 m.p.h. in the three lower gears and the MaXiIIIUM obtainable in top gear is between 103 and 105 m.p.h In the same way, acceleration is impressive. with II A 60 m.p.h. coming up in 10.6 sec. Fltis sort ol performance. with an casv 60 m.p.h. cruising gait COMI, up so quickly. Allied to the Ford New

Escort’s very modest petrol thirst and its convenient Hatchback body are the strong points The Escort has durable-looking cloth upholstery and a trim which is practical if a hit plasticky. The ample rear-compartment foot room and Ford’s reputation for dependability and service most surely mean that the new model will be every Mt as successful and popular as its The lines of the New Escort are crisp and compact. The test car was shod with Michelin 155 SPI 3 XZX tyres on 5.. o 13″ wheels. The sloors have effective lumps-. Switching off the engine puts

out the headlamps and there is no glove-locker light. Although torque-reaction between engine and body can be deliberately induced, it is virtually non-existent. a point scored over the Metro. In another FAX’D context, there is SUMC understeer but this is not excessive. The clever aerodynamics keep the back window clean and wind-noise is subdued. We look torward to a longer test of the high-pertOrmame X813 model and meanwhile recommend the 1.6 GL as a very effective small car at the price of £1.5 lb or C4.726.15 with the sunroof. — W.13.