More than just a nose job : ROAD TEST : MOTORING

The Ford Escort has had a complete revamp from the mediocre model of ea rlier years, says Roger Bell

If it's a best seller it must be good, right? Wrong. Ford's fourth-generation Escort, mauled by the motoring press after its launch in 1990, was a paragon of mediocrity. Acknowledging the Escort's deficiencies - sloppy handling, a jerky ride, nois y engines, tacky interiors - Ford rushed improvements into production. In quick succession came new 16-valve engines, a retrogressive facelift, class-leading crash protection, improved security, greater refinement. But worthier rivals continued to trounc e it in comparative tests.

They have a tougher fight on their hands now. Yet another round of improvements have endowed the latest Escort, set for a three-year run until it is replaced by an all-new car in 1998, with a respectability and competence that eluded its predecessors.

Many of the changes were inspired by the Mondeo which, unlike the Escort, garnered universal praise from the day it was launched. The most obvious revision is a smart new nose job; inside are attractive new trim and seats and an improved facia designed by the team responsible for the Mondeo's dash.

Cosmetically, the latest Escorts - to be made as hatchbacks, saloons, estates and convertibles - are streets ahead of the old, but it is the underskin changes that impress most. Revised suspension has made the ride smoother, less choppy. It has also sharpened the handling. Excluding the unchanged four-wheel-drive Cosworth, the Escort still lacks the cornering fluency of the Mondeo, but it hugs the road with new-found assurance and tidiness that will make previous owners realise what they have been missing. Assisted steering, fitted to most models (but not the underpowered base 1.3, now called Encore), is a must.

The Escort's old NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) enemy has been successfully attacked on all fronts. Although the 1.8 turbo-diesel remains rough and gruff (but agreeably nippy), the 1.6 petrol revs sweetly without assailing the ears.

The raucousness that afflicted earlier Escorts has been muted by painstaking attention to many details. Wind whoosh and tyre roar have also been reduced, so there is no need to turn the radio up when on the motorway. In cutting the cackle, Ford has done no more than make the Escort as quiet as it should have been in 1990.

Apart from its indifferent performance and rubbery gear change, the 1.6 impresses as a mature, well made, comfortable - even enjoyable - family car with much to commend it and little to condemn. In choosing the Peugeot 306 as its role model, Ford aimed high and got close to the bull dynamically.

That is fulsome praise for a car that has taken five years to shed its dunce's hat. Prices will be announced when sales start - with the 1.6 - next week.

Suggested Topics
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Sport
Jonatahn Sexton scores a penalty
rugby
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
weird news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

    £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

    Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

    £28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

    Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

    £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

    Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

    £18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003
    Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

    Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

    Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

    Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
    Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

    Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

    Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
    New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

    Dinner through the decades

    A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
    Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

    Philippa Perry interview

    The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

    Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

    Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
    Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

    Harry Kane interview

    The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
    The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?