Motor Sport - Road Test: Fiesta Ghia
"My Year's Motoring. The Editor Looks Back On The Cars He Drove During 1980"
February 1981



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Road Test: Fiesta Ghia

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.....mileage in quite a brief space of time in that charming little car, the Ford Fiesta 1.3 Ghia five-door saloon, mainly because I went down to Hove in it to interview one-time racing-driver Aubrey Esson-Scott, coming back through sleepy Sussex on a fine cross-country route to Mid-Wales, and also took it to Silverstone for the VSCC Pomeroy Trophy Meeting. Small it may be, but this little fuel-thrifty front-drive Ford is quite suited to this kind of long run when there is not too much time to spare. This Ghia version of the small Ford has many extras that are good to live with and the car's good road-clinging and steering made an equally big contribution to driving satisfaction, apart from a very slight dead feel to the steering around the straight-ahead position. It is ironical that, whereas the first of the new FWD Ford Escorts (nee Erika) had too harsh rear suspension, the suspension of the Fiesta is good, better damped I thought than that of the Opel Kadett, and certainly the driving-seat comfort of this Ghia Ford deserves full marks. Small cars are very good these days - and there was nearly 100 m.p.h., 0-60 in 10.7 seconds, and an overall fuel thirst of 38.4 m.p.g., with 40.7 m.p.g. achieved for part of the test. Count me a Fiesta fan. . . .

Most testers have spoken very well of the Opel Kadett, and some rave about it. Having said my words of praise about it I had a Vauxhall Astra GL 1300S to assess how the Lutonian-badged edition compares. On paper there should be an imperceptible difference, so similar are the general specifications, and this is so on the road. So here is another very good small hatchback, slightly quieter than the Kadett and just as good on road-holding, although its steering is low-geared, heavy for parking and dead in feel. Well appointed and comfortable, the Astra did not give quite the economy of petrol I had hoped to get.

Two very commendable cars came next, the VW Golf GTI Convertible and the VW Scirocco Storm. The five-speed fuel-injection Golf is about the finest small car one could wish to own, and the fast version of the low-built Scirocco is equally impressive. The Golf Convertible was great to use on a summer day for attending the dignified opening of the Rolls-Royce EC headquarters and museum at the Hunt House, Paulerspury, riding there in style with the top down. The VW Storm is notably refined and both are truly quick motor cars. I wrote sufficient about them at the time of the tests, and about Volkswagen/Audi in Britain today, to confirm my continuing VW enthusiasm.

After these two highly-covetable German cars I sampled a Swede, in the form of the Volvo 244GLT. I am not keen on the "safety-lights" and other "be careful" items that characterise a Volvo but I must say the 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine, fuel-injected like so many today, has improved effectively the performance available from this secure and comfortable large saloon, which has an air of old-fashioned honesty about it, enhanced by the rugged build that traditionally applies to this make. With excellent heating and ventilation and a sunroof, the 244GLT was just the car in which to follow part of the VCC Jubilee Rally and later to take to a rather nice and unexpectedly uncrowded S. Wales seaside resort.

Immediately after returning the Volvo I got into a Talbot Solara SX, with automatic transmission, and from the first mile or so felt absolutely confident, driving quickly. Astonishingly complete and lavish in its equipment, all for an expenditure of £6,370, this.....

Captions -

Top-Right - THE BEST small car tried in 1980? - The convertible VW Golf GLi.
Middle-Left - SOLID, feeling indestructible, the Volvo 244 GLT is remembered for the improved performancve from its fuel injected engine, a 2.3-litre "four".
Bottom-Right - ALWAYS fun, and such good value, the 1980 Alfasud was tested in 1.5-litre four-door form.