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History Lessons #23 – Mk2 Fiesta XR2

Published On September 5, 2013 | By Jared Robinson | Articles, History Lessons

Not everyone is a purebred. In fact, if you’re like most of the people on this earth, you come from two separate and distinctive families. The new Ford Focus ST follows a similarly branching family tree. For the first time, the high performance Focus you buy in the US is the same as the one you could buy in the rest of the world. We’ve tasted from the European performance well in the US in the past as recently as the 2002 – 2004 Focus SVT, which was similar to the European Focus ST170. This “World Car” attitude is very present in the current and upcoming Ford vehicle catalog; the Fiesta has been for sale here for some time now and the 2013 Ford Fusion we’ll be seeing here is very much the same as the new Mondeo seen throughout the rest of the world. In this series, we’ll look into the history of compact performance offerings from Ford and how two parallel developments in the US and Europe have evolved into the new 2013 Ford Focus ST.

The Mk1 Fiesta XR2 was a hit at the end of the Mk1 Fiesta run, so the follow-up definitely needed to be good. The Mk2 arrived in the summer of 1983. Gone were the ’70s straight lines and round headlamps, replaced with softer panels, more aerodynamic headlights and the start of one of the earliest ’80s Ford design traits: smaller front grilles. The front end of the Fiesta was adorned with a fold-over hoodline that exposed only a small line of grille space between the lights. In basic forms it was again offered with a variety of small displacement engines and, for the first time ever, a diesel. They even experimented with a CVT (continuously variable transmission), as used in their 1987 1.1L model.


In order to separate it from the more pedestrian versions, the new XR2 received a lot of attention. Powered by the same 96hp 1.6L CVH engine as seen in the Escort XR3, and attached to a proper 5-speed gearbox, the Mk2 Fiesta XR2 had a 15% increase in power over the older Kent-powered XR2 (that’s 12hp more, if you don’t want to do the math). 0-60 times were similar to the Mk1 but the quarter-mile came and went almost a half a second quicker.


The looks of the XR2 received the most attention from Ford. The exterior was fitted with big fender flares, side skirts, rear panel and the bumpers were fitted with the prerequisite ’80s-boy-racer-red-stripe-styling-theme. Optional, but apparently almost always chosen, pepperpot alloys were fitted under those big flares. Big fog lamps were also fitted to the front bumper. A sporty interior was standard with more bolstered front seating and a bespoke gauge cluster.


While today the Mk1 is more sought after, the Mk2 offers more bang for the buck and is more readily available. Mechanically the cars themselves are very simple to work on, as they weren’t fuel injected. An easy grab for power on the 1.6 CVH is accomplished with a hotter cam, free-flow exhaust and a set of sidedraught carburetters. Due to the fact the Mk2 XR2 is now over 25 years-old, if you’re up for it, these are available to import to the US!

Go on, do it – check out this example on Ebay.co.uk

Just like last time, we dug up an old buyer’s guide, thanks to FastFords UK. Take a look here – http://www.fastfordmag.co.uk/files/old/FAF235.buyers.pdf

Next time? It’s sort of an Escort!

By the time you read this, the new Fiesta ST should be arriving on showroom floors.

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3 Responses to History Lessons #23 – Mk2 Fiesta XR2

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