Escort XR3i

This Escort’s mix of sporty looks, bargain price and eager performance made it a hot hatch hit with British motorists during the Eighties.

Escort XR3i

Although it lacks rarity and competition history, the XR3i finishes ahead of the RS1600i here. When engineers at Ford added fuel injection to the XR3’s 1.6-litre engine in 1983, they created a performance legend.

While the Peugeot 205 GTi was faster and sharper to drive, it was the Escort’s mix of sporty looks, bargain price and eager performance that made it a hot hatch hit with British motorists during the Eighties.

The original version stood out thanks to its eyecatching ‘cloverleaf’ alloy wheels and large black spoilers front and rear. The facelifted car pictured here gained smoother lines, red stripes and a more luxurious interior. There was also a version to suit all tastes.

It could be a mini executive express in booted Orion 1.6i Ghia guise, while the Cabriolet model served up wind-in-the-hair thrills for those on a budget. Later cars were also more technologically advanced than rivals. Buyers could pay extra for big car features such as anti-lock brakes and a heated windscreen.

Today, the Ford struggles to match the pace of junior hot hatches such as the Suzuki Swift Sport. But its raspy 105bhp 1.6-litre motor still feels strong, without needing to be revved like many modern hot hatches. With no power-assistance for the steering, low-speed manoeuvres are a pain, while there’s plenty of body roll in fast corners despite stiffer sports suspension. However, the Escort’s uncomplicated charm still shines through and helps it secure a place in hot hatch history.

* Performance: 2/5 * Heritage: 4/5 * Style: 3/5 * Driver appeal: 3/5

Vote for your favourite fast Ford here, in our exclusive reader survey

Details

Model tested: Escort XR3iChart position: 15

Most Popular

New 2021 Audi RS 3: 395bhp mega hatch priced from £50,900
Audi RS 3 Sportback - front
Audi RS3

New 2021 Audi RS 3: 395bhp mega hatch priced from £50,900

Full exterior and interior reveal for Audi RS 3, with aggressive styling and racy cabin to match strong performance
19 Jul 2021
New 2021 Kia EV6 boasts up to 328 miles of range
Kia EV6 - front
Kia EV6

New 2021 Kia EV6 boasts up to 328 miles of range

Kia reveals more specs for its bespoke electric car, with the EV6 offering long range and an 18-minute 80 per cent rapid recharge time
21 Jul 2021
New MG 5 EV 2021 review
MG 5 EV - front
MG MG5 Hatchback

New MG 5 EV 2021 review

The MG 5 EV has been updated with a bigger battery, meaning it now boasts a 250-mile range
21 Jul 2021