19 January 1996

TURBO ESCORT

-MORE FLASH THAN DASH

THE Ford Escort first hit the road 28 years ago and has topped Britains car sales charts every year since 1982 – a success story by anyones standards.

It has undergone many changes in that time. Long gone are its earlier sharp, angular lines, with the smooth curves of todays Escort softening its former boy racer image.

The farmers weekly test car was a five-door, 1.8-litre turbo-diesel Ghia. With its tinted glass, "walnut" fascia, leather-covered steering wheel and stylish interior it is certainly a smart-looking car. When it comes to performance, however, it promises rather more than that it delivers.

The turbocharger takes its time to kick in, too long for any nippy overtaking, and on the motorway this Escort is vocal. Despite the sound-damping improvements made on the latest models, radio volume still needs a tweak as speed increases. On the positive side, test fuel consumption was an impressive 48mpg+.

Ride is reassuringly firm, while handling and road holding are responsive and positive. Front seat passenger and driver fare well for leg room but its knees up in the back for everyone else.

The verdict: For my money this Escort has a little more flash than dash but if sales figures are the yardstick, Im almost bound to be proved wrong.

Despite inheriting new family nose,

the latest Ford Escort bears a close resemblance to its ancesters. Test fuel consumption on this 1.8-litre

turbodiesel was an impressive 48mpg.