the XR2i

The introduction of the Mk3 Fiesta in April 1989 was a welcome one, updating the look of the car, bringing it bang up to date in terms of styling, performance and offering excellent value for money. Ford was manufacturer was massive motorsport heritage and always produced a hot model that showed just what they could produce, often with that model leading into competitive motorsport. Legend has it that Ford had a large stock pile of old XR2 engines left over, so decided to hastily put them into the new Mk3 body shell, giving us the Fiesta 1.6S. This was far from being the hot hatch people were screaming out for. They made the public wait 5 months till they released the proper hot Fiesta, the XR2i.

CyberMod's XR2i

The XR badge has been attached to the Fiesta twice before in the models that the Mk3 preceded, but this time it got a little more than it had been allowed before. The car was based on an excellent chassis that can still put many cars to shame today. The suspension was refined over the standard models and slightly lowered and stiffened to bring the cars centre of gravity closer to the ground to combat such problems as under-steer and body roll. The car also received anti-roll bars to aid this problem too.

The engine was the same one of that used in the Escort XR3i, using the same CVH block as in the Mk2 XR2, with the revised engine complete with fuel injection. The car was treated to deeper colour coded bumpers incorporating added driving lights and front fog lights, deep side skirts and arch extensions along with the iconic blue stripe, telling the people in the know, just what it was. Colours available were Diamond White, Radiant Red, Mercury Grey and Black.

Standard items that could be found on the XR2i were central locking, electric windows, sports seats, and a Ford 2005 stereo system. Compared with today’s standards this is somewhat lacking in creature comforts, but was adequate at the time. Optional too were 13″ alloy wheels and a heated front screen to help in winter months.

scotty_boy's XR2i

Ford left the car unchanged until 1991 when they tweaked it by changing the front seats somewhat and moving the electric window switches from the centre console to the door pockets, as found in the later Mk3.5 Fiestas.

A more significant change was made in May 1992 when new guidelines on emission controls were being introduced deeming the CVH engine unusable. Ford had finished developing the all new fuel injected, 16 valve, double over head cam series of engines, Zetec. The XR2i earned itself a brand new 1.8 engine that is the same as that of the Escort XR3i of the same period. It also used Fords own EEC-IV management from the Fiesta RS Turbo.

Surprisingly the new Zetec 1.8 engine developed less power than that of the CVH 1.6, with power figures being quoted at 105bhp. Who would want revised version if it were slower than the one its replacing? To tackle this issue, the gearbox ratios were altered to give a shorter 1st and 2nd gears and a longer 5th gear to bring the 0-60 time and top speed into line with the 1.6 version so that when the figures were viewed on paper the car still looked good.

Ghost's 2i replica ;)

On the outside the XR2i was revamped to keep the car competitive with its rivals. It now donned 14″ alloys, colour coded mirrors and the badges were altered in keeping with Fords designs at the time. Extra colours were added to the options coming in Moonstone Silver and Pacifica Blue, obviously at extra cost too! On the inside the interior was updated with darker trim, black carpets, dark plastic dash, leather steering wheel and gear knob. The most welcome addition was new seats. Large, ‘winged’ seats were installed with deeper backs and shoulder bolsters to hold you in place, proving with time to be very comfortable.

Eventually, all good things must come to an end. In 1993, the XR2i was cut from production and the last remaining few were sold. Ford had created a car iconic to its time that to this day is fused with many things including the image of the 90’s boy racer, clutching his latest rave tape and copy of Max Power cruising round the streets of a town near you. It had proved itself on the track with its own championship and had provided years of entertainment to enthusiasts across the land. It spelled the end of the XR badge with the Fiesta due to astronomical insurance costs with crime and joy riding at an all time high. Many people are now picking up these cars for very little money with examples starting from £500 up to £2000 for a mint example offering great thrills for very little money, so what are you waiting for? The perfect track day car or Sunday toy is out there, waiting for you!