After more than 30 years, the Escort's name is set to die, dropped in favour of the Focus. Although Ford have rather conservatively decided to retain the Escort model for a while yet, just in case the Focus doesn't move the mountains that it expects. Having got its fingers badly burned with the original Cortina - Sierra debacle and lost the impetus to Vauxhall in that market sector, Ford is taking no chances this time.
So what are we left with?
The ultimate development of the Escort theme honed close to perfection.
A dodgy old design creaking at its seams, ready only for the retirement home.
Unlike most of the cars I get to drive, this one was virtually brand new with just 1000 miles on the clock. So this car was completely factory fresh and can have no excuses like dodgy maintenance, just needs a new thingamabob or whatever.
We all know what Escorts look like and this looks pretty much like the rest of them, with added rear spoiler, alloy wheels and colour coded accoutrements, you know all the stuff stuck on to try and make the car look modern and extend it's life span a little while longer.
The interior is a mismatch of old and modern with Ford's new edge styling grafted on top of this old stager. There are some strange styling touches, like large oval buttons supposedly like a Ford badge I guess. All the little touches may look quite nice if they were small parts of a larger theme. But no, they are just mis-matched collections of odd shapes, sizes and directions. The idea was might have been good but the marketing guys probably just bottled out. Equipment is reasonable, although those big button radios grate a little, and are no match for remote controls. Space is tight in most directions - 4 occupants is okay, 5 is a very tight squeeze. Rear leg room is stingy though the boot is reasonable.
The 1.6 16 valve DOHC motor would have made your average pub-bore anorak choke on his real ale in the days of the Mexicos and other Escorts of lore. But in this incarnation, you would be hard pressed to find anything special about it. 90 bhp is distinctly average at best so don't expect too much top-end thrust. Worse than the lack of grunt though was the surprising lack of refinement, becoming coarse after 4000 revs. Still below 4000 its reasonably torquey if not exactly "stump pulling". Fuel consumption is only average - low thirties and on the motorway, no great shakes in this day and age. Most worrying is the fact this motor is the same one as in the Focus, so that'll be no great shakes either then.
Handing should, after all these year be pretty well sorted and below 80 mph it is. It turns in quite quickly and corners fairly flat, the nose runs gently wide if you press on too hard and tuck back in if you back off so no surprises there then. The ride is firm without being overly harsh so no surprises their either. Push on with the speed though and things go downhill, the stability goes to pot, and the nose starts to dart around, running past large trucks, the side draught is particularly dodgy and your confidence in the car is undermined.
Q: Do you buy a Focus at (GB Ripoff Ltd) premium prices?
Q: Do you buy a discount Escort at more sensible prices?
A: Buy the Focus - not this decrepit old pensioner.
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