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

In this review

Most Popular

New Genesis G90 revealed as striking luxury flagship
Genesis G90 - front
Genesis G90

New Genesis G90 revealed as striking luxury flagship

First exterior images of the new Genesis G90 luxury saloon have been revealed ahead of it going on sale next year
29 Nov 2021
New seven-seat Dacia Jogger priced from £14,995
Dacia Jogger - Munich front
Dacia Jogger

New seven-seat Dacia Jogger priced from £14,995

Pre-orders open for the new Dacia Jogger ahead of 2022 deliveries, and low prices make it Britain’s cheapest seven-seater
1 Dec 2021
Next-gen Volkswagens to get smarter and more comfortable
Volkswagen tech
Volkswagen

Next-gen Volkswagens to get smarter and more comfortable

Volkswagen is working on a host of new technology, including fly-by-wire steering, a driver-facing interior camera and an intelligent chassis
30 Nov 2021