April 21st, 2010

Driven into the ground

There are cars which sometimes slip through the road test net but that doesn’t mean that they are not great cars. So we sent John Slavin out to give an exclusive 2010 test of the1996 Ford Escort. Enjoy.

Here at Motormorph, we like to keep abreast of latest new cars, so we take any opportunity to review the newest models. Sticking to that ethos, we can now proudly share with you our first steer of the 1996 Ford Escort.

First impressions are good. This is the base spec L model, but it still comes with bumpers, doors and seats, so it’s pretty hard to fault the equipment. The simple, elegant lines are broken up classily with clods of mud, with the odd bubble of rust here and there. Interestingly, Escort is an anagram of Scrote, which is a brilliant touch.

Inside, the dashboard is made of the same high quality materials as found on milk bottle lids, and the analogue clock is a real eye-catching detail.  The CD-player with iPod connectivity is an optional extra, which is fitted free if you do it yourself. Seats are actually very comfortable; on a recent six hour trip, leg numbness was never a problem. Similarly, the capacious boot swallowed up my entire luggage with space to spare. Rear legroom is adequate for small adults, as well as jackets, empty bottles and old papers.

The 1.4 litre CVH engine is loud, but in a reassuring kind of way. You know it’s there, and you can tell you haven’t stalled. That’s a good feeling. One of the finest points of driving this car is the gearbox; it’s slick, smooth, precise and flawless. Steering is numb and lifeless, but it works. Ford have engineered a loud, metallic whine into the power-steering so you can tell when you’re at full-lock. I like this feature and I hope to see it on more cars.

The ride is soft and floaty at normal speeds, which is relaxing. If you push hard, bump steer is quite apparent and the ride becomes stupendously bouncy. The suspension is designed to make horrible knocking sounds when at the top of its travel, encouraging the driver to slow down and relax. Generally, though, the road holding and cornering characteristics are predictable. This is an easy car to drive.

Performance is difficult to gauge; the speedometer is about 10mph out at all speeds, though Sat-Nav records show a top speed of 101mph – on a closed road of course. 0-60mph is possible. The fuel consumption is around 35mpg, but with no trip computer it’s hard to tell how accurate a figure that is. The model we tested is in insurance group 5, and tax is about £125 per year. Prices start at around £500, which is relatively inexpensive for a car.

Alternatives are; Vauxhall Astra, Nissan Primera, Renault Laguna, a bicycle, and walking.

All in all we’re quite impressed with the Escort Acapulco, though we can’t help thinking it feels a bit dated.  But that’s a small qualm, easily forgiven when the cars myriad of merits is taken into consideration. Full marks.

John Slavin

Photo Credit: Sylvia Slavin