News : Geneva 2017 – Ford upstages itself with classic XR2

Ford unveiled its new-generation Fiesta ST at Geneva and placed one alongside the hugely popular XR2 on its sprawling show stand. The new car gets Ford’s latest three-cylinder 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine, which puts out a splendid 197bhp – somewhat more than the 96bhp its Rosso Red predecessor at the show did.

The new car featured an electronic cylinder cut-off to save fuel, when you’re not gunning it. However, in order not to offend its sporting owners,there will be an Electronic Sound Enhancement system which pipes a more meaty noise into the cabin to avoid it sounding like a typical two-pot. Of course, the original XR2 had nothing of the sort – it just had a CVH engine under the bonnet, which was deterrent enough to stop you revving it.

Other technologies making their way into the new XR2, sorry ST, include torque vectoring, an eight-inch touchscreen, the option of a top-end B&O audio and Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system. The new car doesn’t go on sale until 2018, which is just in time to for the 35th Anniversary of the original Fiesta Mk2-based XR2.

Ford Fiesta XR2 photograph, Andrew Elphick

Keith Adams


  1. If the new ST comes out in 2018 it will mark the 35th anniversary of the Mk1 XR2…..not the Mk2 XR2.

    • My bad.

      The first Kent-engined XR2 (with the cute round headlights) was launched in 1981, the softer-nosed second-generation version with the CVH-engine came along in 1983.

  2. I’m glad Ford are still competing in the hot hatch game. There’s something about a little fast FoMoCo product that is somehow more appealing than one thing with A Vauxhall badge.

    It’ll be interesting to see what PSA does with the VXR brand. There’s potential here for some great hot hatches. Until then, it’s good to see another generation of Fast Fiesta.

    What’s wrong with calling it an XR2? Far from impeding sales, it would stir memories, and maybe solicit orders from 40-somethings like me after a bit of nostalgic fun.

    How about this? Call it the Suoersport, the almost forgotten predecessor to the XR2.

  3. The new Fiesta ST certainly looks impressive and will probably remain the class leading hot hatch and really shows how far Ford have progressed since the XR2 made it’s debut all those years ago. Unlike the ST the XR2 was regarded as a bit of a joke being viewed as little more than the Supersport with a bigger engine some cosmetic additions an interior of dubious taste and a set of fancy alloys. The position was worsened by the introduction of the Escort XR3 and Sierra XR4i which had some claims to being serious claims to be performance vehicles while the XR2 didn’t really cut the mustard and the Renault 5 Gordini Turbo followed by the Peugeot 205GTI widened the gap to a chasm, the Fiesta just couldn’t compete. Perhaps like other things that characterized the eighties such as big hair,shoulder pads and white socks it’s really best to let the XR2 where it belongs and hope that Ford will actually produce a Fiesta RS to complement the current Focus RS.

    • Your right, the XR2 was a classic case of style over substance that only Ford could get away with – in the UK at least. It was blown into the weeds by the 205GTi and even the likes of the Nova GTE and by the time the round nose “mark 2” model shown above arrived in 1983 was already a 7 year old design. The ST may not be held with such high esteem – cars like that arnt these days – but it is a class leader with a depth of engineering that the XR2 could only dream about

      • @ Paul:

        You’ve given me a thought – I wonder if there is a place for Vauxhall to relaunch the GTE moniker below the VXR halo moniker? After all they do have quite a few creditable heritage hot hatches to reinforce the appeal of 1980s nostalgia. Just my thoughts.

        The XR2 in its Mark 1 or mark 2 guise epitomizes the 1980s so well – shoulder-pad style bolt-on spoilers and a lot more power in a humble front-wheel drive hatchback body which usually didn’t receive any significant improvements to the braking, suspension or even the body’s overall stiffness. It was such a simple recipe and in reality represented only a minor engineering progression over what we had seen in the previous decade with a few performance-derived hatchback offerings from Vauxhall, Chrysler and Volkswagen. But it was still highly effective. Get behind the wheel of a 1980s hot hatch and they were always a hoot to drive.

        In many ways I miss the raw and slightly crude nature of the 1980s hot-hatches. To me the latest Ford Fiesta ST almost says “play nicely” whereas the XR2 says “go on, be a rebel!”

  4. Bring back the MG Metro Turbo with red seat belts……..and I’ll order one….as long as it’s from Longbridge. Unlikely but…..

    • I owned a MG TURBO and my mate was absolutely gutted when he could not keep up with it in his so called (FAST) xr2 .Brilliant little car the metro turbo was. sorry i ever sold it.
      I could never understand what the fuss was about on the xr2+3 fords they was so underpowered and totally crap.
      Then in 1984 i purchased a vauxhall nova 1.3sr and this would eat the xrs for breakfast.

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