the RS Turbo

The Fiesta had already shown its sporting worth to the world with the awesome Fiesta RS Turbo. However, with emissions guidelines becoming ever stricter, the turbocharged CVH engines weren’t going to cut it, so it was decided that the first Fiesta to hold the RS title, was to be put out of production. This wasn’t to be the final appearance of that iconic RS badge on a Fiesta though. Oh no, it still hadn’t died yet.

So Ford came forward and laid the Fiesta RS1800 before us to savour on. To your simple onlooker, it seemed to be the same car, wearing the same bumpers, extras, arches and skirts. In fact, the only differences were the disappearance of the aggressive bonnet vents and 3 spoke alloys, and the appearance of some new snazzy 5 spoke rims the same as the Escort RS2000 acquired of the same time. Beneath the exterior laid a car worthy of the title it borrowed from the multiple champion winning Escort rally car in the 70’s.

At the heart of the beast lay the new flagship engine series Ford had just dished up, the Zetec range. The XR2i received the same engine too, but with the RS1800 ‘tweaks’ were included to spice things up a bit. The standard cams, throttle body and ECU were thrown out, and new items from the 2.0litre version of the Zetec were added, along with an advanced management map for the ECU. This hiked power from a reasonable 105bhp in the XR2i, to a more satisfying to the racers ego, 130bhp, along with a similar step up in torque.

This added up to a sprint to 60 time of 8.1 seconds and taking the car all the way to 127mph. The RS1800 also had revised suspension which was and is still amazingly fun to drive. This came from extra stiffness, complimentary of the 20mm front anti-roll bar, increasing front wheel traction and reducing understeer and a stiffer and lower ride height.

Just the same as all the other Fiestas in the Mk3 range, the RS1800 underwent evolutionary changes during its lifetime of production. Shortly after production had started in 1992, cars became equipped with clear indicators and a tonal ‘lights on’ warning, alerting the driver when they had opened the drivers door with the headlights still switched on. As the battle to offer best value for the customer continued, Ford offered an immobilizer as standard in 1993, a necessary feature to any hot hatch! The final change came in very early 1994 along with ever other Fiesta across the ranges.

Extensive changes were made to the floor pan, stiffening it and altering it to be stronger and improve handling. The cars Recaro interior was taken out, and replaces with the same winged seats as found in the XR2i 16v at the time, and also in the Fiesta Si. Ford gave the RS1800 power steering and a drivers airbag in an attempt to pull prospective buyers into RS dealers.

Ford enthusiasts are proud of the RS name, and its only handed out to cars worthy of the title. However, some might say the RS1800 didn’t quite make the grade. It wasn’t as brutal as the RS Turbo before it, nor was it used in motorsport, so people often see the RS1800 as a bit of a soft RS and never aquired the credibilty of the other RS’s of the period. The car is quite rare with only a few thousand being built, and can be picked up at a very reasonable price from as little as £1200 for a decent one, with mint examples fetching closer to £4000.