The best of the big estates

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THE HEADING does not refer to Woburn (The Duke of Bedford), Blenheim (The Duke of Marlborough) or Chatsworth (The Duke of Devonshire) but to another practical product of Ford of Britain, one at the top of their model-range, the Granada 2.8i GLS Estate, which I have been using latterly.

The test car had the German-built V6 2.8-litre engine with Bosch fuel-injection and electronic ignition, in which form this well-proved power unit produces 160 DIN b.h.p. at 5,700 r.p.m. This power pack gives instant starting, quiet and smooth running, and an impressive all-round performance from this vehicle of equally impressive size, the wheelbase being 9’1″, the overall length 15’6″, and the unladen kerb weight 1,323 lb. The drive goes through a light, reasonably smooth but long-travel clutch and Ford’s impeccable manual 4-speed gearbox, so pleasant to use, unless automatic transmission is specified. This Ford Granada Estate is a good-looking car, the styling being uncomplicated, of pleasantly clean outline, although not everyone will like the rather plain alloy wheels. In 2.8i GLS form this is an estate car which is not only very comfortable, and it goes without saying spacious, but one which is very easy to load through a self-elevating rear door which has no sill to lift the luggage over. The loading area is 41.7 Cu. ft., which can be increased to an again impressive 77 cu. ft. by folding down the rear seats. In the latter form this space has a length of over 80″ x nearly 46″, so this Granada can then cope with most domestic and many light commercial loads.

Thus far it can be appreciated that this is an excellent large estate car, with the accepted Ford practicability and convenient layout of controls, etc. But in this de luxe guise it is far more than that. As tried, the car had the S (for Sports) suspension, in which the double-wishbone front suspension and trailing-arm independent rear suspension by coil springs has a 24 mm. front anti-roll bar, variable-rate back springs, and gas shock-absorbers. This gives this very big car the handling for which the 2.8 Granada saloon is renowned, aided by those splendid Michelin TRX tyres. Add to this the very full special equipment of these top-of-the-range Granada Estates and you have a most acceptable combination of luxury load-swallower, high-performance motor car and “executive-type” accessories. It really is a most enjoyable car, which greatly intrigued me.

I was most impressed with the Granada Estate’s fine handling qualities. It can be taken fast into a corner and before the anticipated understeer intrudes you feel the Michelin TRX’s breakaway and the long car follows them through without any perceptible oversteer and very little roll. Moreover, ride comfort has not been sacrificed to handleability. The power steering, with a pleasantly small sensibly-rimmed steering-wheel, asks just under 34 turns, lock-to-lock and the turning-circle is so modest that there is no embarrassment about manoeuvring this lengthy vehicle. It is also very good power steering indeed, light but not unduly so, quick, and possessing plenty of “feel”. The vacuum-servo, dual-line, disc/drum brakes arrest the Granada, even when fully laden, very effectively and with no drama indeed, so powerful are they that, if applied hard, there is a slightly squidgy feel to the front suspension. It was great fun to drive this seemingly ponderous Ford as fast as one wished, and be able to enjoy doing so.

The facia has the easy-to-read Ford instruments 140 m.p.h. speedometer with k.p.h. readings, 7,000 r.p.m. tachometer, fuel and heat gauges, with an off-set battery meter air conditioning fan and controls, a stereo/cassette radio and two adjustable pivoted, cold-air vents, all within a huge hooded binnacle, trimmed with imitation wood, in front of the driver, on the black panel-moulding. Down on the console there is a clock and cigarette lighter, with another lighter in the rear of the car. Three steering-column stalk-controls, indicators and horn on the left, are used. Stowage for oddments consists of the usual Ford lidded-box between the front seats, a very big open well before the front passenger, with a lidded lockable cubby below it, and a map aperture on the console. Rear window wipe/wash, sensibly high-mounted, if rather venerable Ford fog lamps, electric window-lifts, intermittent screen-wiper setting, adjustable for speed of action, a wind-open sun-roof that creates almost no draught or wind-roar, internally-adjustable driver’s-door mirror, rheostat control of instrument lighting, and an automatic aerial for the radio, renders this a very executive-style estate car. Ford’s excellent ventilation system is provided and the big doors have effective “keeps”. There is central door-locking, but from the driver’s door only, and but one key for ignition and doors. The seats are smartly upholstered in cloth, if the door trim isn’t highclass leather it fools me, and the rear carpet is easily rolled up if you want to carry livestock or dogs. Vision from the driving-seat is excellent, and as the car is built in Germany you get Bosch electrics.

Driven hard, I got a fuel consumption of 22.7 m.p.g. and thus used the range would be comfortably over 300 miles. The bonnet opens easily but the lid has to be propped up. No oil was used when checked after 850 miles. The cost of this fine Ford is not low in standard guise it is priced at £7,466 but with the air conditioning, and the special radio this increases to £8,465 in the very acceptable trim in which I tested it. I have long had great admiration for all the Ford range, from Fiesta to Granada, and to be able to have an enormous estate car which has all the “executive” requirements and handles like a good GT saloon, or which can be hurried along like a sports car, and very pleasantly at that, is quite something! This big Granada 2.8i GLS

Estate should interest fleet-buyers who arc looking for transport for top-bracket travelling salesmen, etc. 

 

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