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Ford Escort (1990 - 2000)

reviewed by ned zeppelin on 5 February 2013

1.8 Ghia X

reviewed by James FB on 24 April 2012
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Underrated rust bucket

How can I say it's underrated and then say it's a rust bucket? Well, I feel that both statements are true. Comparing this to a MK3 VW Golf, it comes out on top. BUT. You have to pick the right one.

Suspension was improved for the MK6 in the second half of 1996. The handling is still pretty average, and not up to the standard of newer cars like the Focus. Lowering the car 30mm with progressively wound springs improves matters considerably.

The 1.8 Zetec engine is the only one to choose. The zetec is a gem of an engine, admired by many and used in lots of kit cars and Westfields etc. The 1.8 actually has better fuel economy than the 1.6 zetec - the zeta engine was always meant to be a 1.8. The 1.6 was dropped in favour of the Yamaha designed zetec SE 1.6 after the Escort production finished.
AVOID the TDDi diesels and the 1.4 CVH engines like the plague.
The 1.8 Zetec engines were tweaked in late '96 with different inlet hose and throttle housing giving an extra 10 PS of power and 0-60 in under 10 seconds. - How to tell the difference; looking at the inlet air feed pipe, it goes around the left of the engine to the throttle housing at the back, not across the front, above the exhaust manifold (think heat soak) and then over the top of the engine. Also, air filter box should have a sticker saying 115PS.
From 1998 till its discontinuation in 2000, only the 1.6 was offered, as the 1.8 was offered in the Focus instead.

Equipment on the top-of-the-range 1996 Ghia X:
Central locking, immobiliser and alarm, electric windows, electric mirrors, air conditioning, sunroof, electrically adjustable drivers seat, power steering, ABS, Airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners, heated front windscreen!!!, CD changer, Alloys, metallic paint.

Having driven a mk3 golf, and owning a mk4 Bora, I would say that the Mk6 Escort is in between the two in terms of quality, standard equipment, ride and handling. And it's more reliable than both. And servicing is so cheap and easy for an amateur mechanic. It's also fairly cheap to insure.
However, there are problems. Water can travel down the wiring loom into the fuse box. Rear light clusters can let in water and need some silicone sealant. The front wishbones/lower arms tend to fail. And more than anything, they rust. Obvious spots are the rear arches. Mine failed an MOT because the rear chassis legs were gone - despite my attempts to hold back the rust. The design looks a little dated now and it's always been a bit funny looking.

So, to make sense of my ramblings, if you can find a late 1996 to 1998 1.8 petrol with little rust, it's a winner for the price.

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reviewed by devman on 11 August 2011
reviewed by GTiDog on 3 January 2011

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