In our test Escort Estate, we achieved 0-30mph in 4.0sec, while 0-60 took a “most creditable” 11.9sec – “in the same class as an Alfa Romeo Alfasud 1300Ti, Fiat Super Milafiori or Triumph Dolomite”.
The engine itself proved to be “reasonably flexible”, and with a “nice, fast idle”. It also had a “sensibly high top gear figure of 19.2mph/1000rpm,” making it “reasonably quiet at 90-plus mph, and more importantly, sensibly economical". We achieved an average of 32.1mpg – much better than the 28.7mpg of the Escort 1.3 Ghia and more frugal than all of its five rivals.
Top speed was 102mph, reached at 5300rpm, although when really pushed, the engine would “nerve-stretchingly scream” to 6520rpm.
The gearchange, meanwhile, we found to have “positive movements” and a light clutch with “progressive take-up and no judder”.
Noise on the move we found to be “acceptable,” with Ford having done a good job of preventing the Escort’s bigger derrière from becoming an echo chamber.
Ride, while vastly improved over earlier prototypes we had tried, was still not “open to any particular compliments,” feeling harsh, especially when compared with its amenable aforementioned French rivals.
The Escort’s employment of independent rear suspension was more visible in the Estate model, which adopted a “slightly awkward-looking negative camber attitude at the rear when fully laden,” although with a little tyre pressure adjustment any negative effect this may have had on the handling was completely negated.
This was a good job, too, because, as it is today, handling was one of the better attributes of the family Ford. We found the Escort Estate to handle “extremely well,” being “easy to handle in crowded town streets and easily manageable even at parking speeds,” while at higher speeds it only understeered when you pushed very hard. Our qualms were a slight leftward wander at the steering's straight-ahead and the unusually prevalent effect of the wake of lorries upon the car when on the motorway.