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.

Fiesta XR2 MkII

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

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

Details

Model tested: Fiesta XR2 MkIIChart position: 22

In this review

Most Popular

Cupra Born vs Mercedes EQA vs Volvo C40 Recharge: 2021 group test review
Cupra Born vs Mercedes EQA vs Volvo C40 Recharge
Car group tests

Cupra Born vs Mercedes EQA vs Volvo C40 Recharge: 2021 group test review

The all-electric Volvo C40 Recharge meets another premium wannabe in the Cupra Born. But can they beat the super-posh new Mercedes EQA?
19 Oct 2021
New Ford Mustang Mach-E GT 2021 review
Ford Mustang Mach-E GT - front
Ford Mustang Mach-E

New Ford Mustang Mach-E GT 2021 review

With 480bhp and a 310-mile range, does the new Ford Mustang Mach-E GT offers the perfect blend of performance and practicality? We find out...
19 Oct 2021
Friends reunited: buying back a Porsche 911
Porsche 911
Porsche 911 Coupe

Friends reunited: buying back a Porsche 911

How perfect timing led a Porsche 911 fanatic to buy back his old car
14 Oct 2021