Following your article on road impressions of the Ford Escort RS 1600i I think I can offer a reason for the poor roadholding of the car. Under the impression that it represented the latest thing in Ford fast saloon philosophy, I bought an RS 1600i in January after a satisfactory series of fairly quick cars including an RS2000 and an XR3. I was rapidly convinced that the car’s roadholding left much to be desired, its characteristics comprised a vicious and unpredictable oversteer when a certain degree of roll had been achieved on fast bends. This was rather the opposite of what I had expected from a front-wheel-drive car, even one which is unofficially an homologation special. Accordingly I requested the dealer to do a thorough check of the suspension system, only to be told that no workshop manual was available for the XR3i or the RS1600i due to a printing problem. One wonders how effective pre-delivery inspections can be carried out with only Ford’s customer publicity to provide specification details? Later I was shown the current Ford customer literature which says “It has Rallye Sport springs and dampers, anti-roll bar at the front, and it’s lowered by almost two inches”. However, since I bought my car there had been a price rise and on producing the old leaflet with the original price of £6,700 the wording reads exactly the same with the interesting addition, “anti-roll bars at the front and back”. Furthermore, Motor Sport of February 1983 carries a double page advert for the RS 1600i which says that the car has “anti-roll bars at the front and back”.
Faced with this, Ford UK agreed to fit a rear anti-roll bar free of charge. This fitment did not affect my guarantee or Extra Cover Plan. I can confirm that the car’s handling has been transformed, though I feel it could be still better if specifically tuned to include the anti-roll bar.
Apart from this one problem, the car comes up to expectation in nearly every other department. The performance is sparkling, although the type of driver who buys an RS will always want more. The styling is extremely aggressive, and photographs do not really do it justice. Viewed from the front, an XR3i looks positively pedestrian when placed beside the RS. The interior is highly functional and the seats are superb. The gearbox is virtually state of the art, and if only the brakes had more bite the car would, with revised suspension, be fully worthy of the RS prefix.
Charles M Ross, BVMS, MRCVS. Grimsby