Fiesta XR2 MkII
When bosses finally revealed the XR2 in 1981, it became an instant hit with boy racers – and it certainly looked the part.
After Ford launched its innovative Fiesta supermini in 1976, it was only a matter of time before a hot version would appear.
When bosses finally revealed the XR2 in 1981, it became an instant hit with boy racers. With its unusual ‘pepper pot’ alloy wheels, lowered suspension and exclusive body graphics, it certainly looked the part. Sadly, the 1.6-litre motor produced only 84bhp, making fordisappointing performance.
So when the MkII appeared in 1984, it featured an all-new and – for the time – hi-tech 1.6-litre CVH unit that boosted power to 96bhp. It still wasn’t as rapid as a Volkswagen Golf GTI, but it was much cheaper.
Even today, the XR2 looks mean and purposeful. Its chunky wheelarches, extra foglights and red stripes on the bumpers mark it out as an Eighties classic.
Inside, you’ll find a thick-rimmed, two-spoke steering wheel, brightly striped sports seats and a rev counter added to the standard instruments. Neat period touches include the ceiling-mounted digital clock and pop-up glass sunroof.
On the move, it’s immediately clear how far car technology has advanced in the last two decades. The stiffly sprung Fiesta crashes over bumps, the brake pedal needs a healthy shove to produce any response and the lightweight build leaves you feeling vulnerable.
But it’s still fun. There’s a familiar hollow rasp from the eager engine and the XR2 displays surprising agility, despite its age. It’s not hard to imagine Eighties car fans falling for the Fiesta’s rough-edged charms and bargain price.
* Performance: 2/5 * Heritage: 2/5 * Style: 3/5 * Driver appeal: 2/5
Model tested: Fiesta XR2 MkIIChart position: 22
In this review
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- 2New Focus RSThe latest – and possibly greatest? – addition to the blue oval’s stable.
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- 42nd Escort RS CosworthIf our top fast Fords were picked on visual impact alone, then the Escort RS Cosworth would be a clear winner. With its bulging wheelarches, aggressive nose and wild rear wing, it looks like nothing else on the road.
- 53rd GTIntroduced to celebrate the blue oval’s 100th birthday, the GT has the performance, power and looks to take on exotic rivals from Ferrari and Lamborghini.
- 64th GT40The sunning GT40 took Le Mans victory spoils four times between 1966 and 1969 – and racing pedigrees don’t come much better than that.
- 75th RS200Jaw-dropping styling, fearsome performance and rarity – the RS200 has it all.
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- 97th Escort MexicoWith racy looks, a lightly tweaked engine and a family-friendly saloon body, the Escort Mexico served up a winning blend of performance and practicality.
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- 119th Sierra RS Cosworth 4x4It looks like a sober-suited saloon, but beneath this four-door Sierra Sapphire’s low-key lines lurks supercar-rivalling performance.
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- 1311th Focus RSWith looks inspired by the firm’s World Rally Championship contenders, the RS is a real head-turner.
- 1412th Capri 2.8iBilled as the car you always promised yourself, the rakish coupé was a sales hit the minute it was launched in 1969.
- 1513th Escort RS2000 MkVShocked to see the MkV Escort RS2000 finish so high up the order? Well, you shouldn’t be – this is a fast Ford through to its very core.