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Ford Fiesta XR2 (1981 - 1989)

Last updated 18 January 2014

Early models look good, steer like a go-kart and go well
Late ones much less appealing, all susceptible to rust


The 1976 Fiesta was an unqualified success from the word go, but it's a sign of how marketing priorities have changed in the subsequent years that it took the company five years before it launched the XR2. Ford had actually dipped its toe in the fast Fiesta water the previous year with the good looking Supersport, but that was little more than a very well executed special edition - despite that these cars are seriously in demand today.

The first XR2 was a welcome addition to the range. Its recipe was similar to the larger Escort's - install a mildly-tuned relatively large engine under the bonnet, stiffen the suspension and make it look very good. So, it was powered by a 1.6-litre crossflow kent engine (not CVH like the Escort), and treated to stripes, spoilers, and round headlamps and spotlights. Black plastic trim decorated the interior and exterior, there were 'pepperpot' alloy wheels, were alsop added. And it sold brilliantly.

It was short-lived, but the facelifted XR2 arrived with the rest of the range, and was treated to a number of updates, not least the fitment of a carburetted 1.6-litre XR3-spec CVH engine. The XR2 was a huge success in the UK, said - at times - to be responsible for approaching 50 per cent of all Fiesta sales.