The Mk2 Ford Fiesta XR2 was never the fastest, sharpest or most refined hot hatch of its class. Nor was it the safest, most spacious or easiest to live with. But, true to form, the XR2 was cheap; offering great value hot hatchery for considerably less than its rivals. Like pepped up versions of the original Mini, the XR2 was unarguably responsible from bringing performance motoring to the masses. Plus, it was a hoot to drive.
With only 97hp and 97lb ft of torque available from its naturally aspirated 1.6-litre engine, the little three-door could sprint from zero to 62mph in a not-to-be-sniffed-at 10.2 seconds and onto a top speed of 112mph. The 839kg supermini was nippy to say the least, and remember, not many cars of this scale could top a tonne back then.
But what made the XR2 memorable was the way it enthusiastically begged to be thrashed. While some of today's most revered hot hatches are so potent that they only reward race driver-like smoothness and terrifying levels of commitment, the XR2 required only that you pedalled its four-pot like its life depended on it, and to utilise the bags of body roll on offer in order to dip and duck around bends.
It'll be a technique unfamiliar to anyone who's not ventured out in something 'old'. You'd not know which way a boggo diesel Fiesta from the present decade went. But neither would you care, because the XR2's sluggish and unassisted steering rack, instantaneous throttle response and thirst for revs, added to the very limited adhesion provided by its tiny tyres, combined to produce something extremely rewarding.
Probably because the XR2 was cheap in its day, it's taken some time for values to catch up with other hot hatches from the 1980s. Earlier this month we found an immaculate version of the fastest and rarer Renault 5 GT Turbo in the classifieds that was on sale for just shy of £15k. And we need not remind anyone of the direction prices for Peugeot 205 GTIs, VW Golf GTIs and their ilk have headed in recent years.
Only three years ago you could pick up a tidy XR2 for about £2,000, but, as today's Spotted shows us, you'll need triple that for a corker in 2019. Admittedly our pick from the classifieds is one of the finest out there, having been dry stored for the last year and in all-original condition. Impressive for a model that could have so easily fallen into careless hands over its 31 years.
Over that time, this black XR2 and its red pinstriping has passed through four custodians, with each apparently valuing its significance enough to collect all service and history paperwork and even a Haynes workshop manual. The pictures provide the visual evidence for claims from the seller that this car is in "excellent condition throughout"; it certainly looks to have been loved and cherished. From what the ad shows, this could very well be the hottest ticket to 1980s XR2 ownership.
SPECIFICATIONS - FORD FIESTA XR2
Engine: 1,597cc, inline-4
Transmission: 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 97@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 97@4,000rpm
First registered: 1988
Recorded mileage: 69,000
Price new: £10,350
Yours for: £5,713
Click here for the full ad.