The Open Road – How luxury is Ghia?

Ford used to add extra insulation in their Ghia models. This, of course, did not make them Jaguars. But how big is the gap really? Having stepped down from a line of luxury marques into a Ghia badged Focus, I invite you to take a faux-suede seat and find out what remains and what’s lost.

The slip road quickly reveals why it says Zetec on the cam cover, not Ghia. There is generous power available, which doesn’t wane with higher speeds, 3rd and 4th providing plentiful urge, but while there’s a reasonably healthy dose of torque for 5th to lug convincingly from 50mph, it’s the noisy enthusiasm of the engine’s upper reaches that has to be tolerated for substantial acceleration. This phenomenon is intensified with passengers and luggage, although even a full suite doesn’t challenge its outright ability to haul. It’s adequate, but not in the same way as a Rolls-Royce. Certainly not nearly as satisfying as opening the taps of something with healthy reserves though.

Trim, but not electric windows, carried over to rear

Heavy suitcases in the boot make a difference, there’s no fancy self-leveling here, although it’s far from looking like the entire rear suspension has collapsed. That phenomenon seems to be set aside for BMWs, so the Ford can take a win there. It rides with good control, although there is definitely a sense of the weight on board that would be subdued rather more in something heavier and longer of wheelbase. With or without such weight, rear passengers can be bounced around a bit if the driver doesn’t adequately quash the conspiratory messages from the Zetec side of the car and keep it slow. Those up front benefit the most from a chassis that emulates a long gait, while the experience at the rear isn’t hidden from the truth. At least, on high seats and with large windows, they get a good view, but it’s difficult to feel like you’re being at all chauffeured as you would in even a big Volvo or Saab.

Or something French. Two unlikely associates, their chrome trim dimly reflecting in the patchy daylight of the Scottish highlands.

So long as you’re not driving as if your hair’s on fire, the car settles into a comfortable cruise. That the cabin provides plenty of headroom for the flames and ventilation good enough to clear the smoke, even in the rear, is also good news for comfort regardless of speed. Fan speeds 3 & 4 are the only ones that are considerably loud, so it’s useful that 2 is usually plenty. However, above 60 the wind noise starts to compete with any other noise that dares to challenge it.

Sloping cupholder invites spilled drinks, especially with Zetec driving style

Road roar and engine noise are actually quite subdued at the 70-80mph cruise, a sense of sound-proofing that prevents any tiresome harshness and tinny echoes in the cabin but falls short of the isolation given in more accomplished luxury cars. I suppose the intense rubber sealing on contemporary BMWs and Mercedes really does make a difference, but at least the Ford’s doors close easily. Good practicalities help bring the mood up in the Ford, there being a fair allotment of oddment storage options, except hopelessly shaped cup holders, and an upgraded sound system with real substance which, of course, is most certainly standard in the Ghia. Having to talk deliberately and loudly on the motorway has never been so refined.

For the Ghia gentleman tourer, the most luxurious Focus is a complete car, providing performance, helped by well stacked gears, comfortable accommodation, smooth operation, marred only by the potential that the gentleman might light his pipe too enthusiastically and set his hair alight. But this is complete in the basic sense, and despite Ghia extras like lumbar support, fairly-fancy trim, and a good stereo, its ride comfort, engine, isolation don’t present that feeling of eating up miles, of real inter-continental capability and comfort like cars of the true luxury class.

Photography (external shots) credit to Gregory Evans, find him on Facebook or Instagram

Why not read my earlier Ghia article?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.