Sadly, the same cannot be said of the XR2’s replacement, the, erm… XR2. Now with added fuel injection, the MkIII XR2i arrived in 1989. And people liked it, though we struggle to see why. The 205 GTI was still faster, more fun and more sophisticated, and it wasn’t saddled with the Ford’s seedy image. While the peppy Eighties XR2 offset its dynamic deficiencies with charm, the MkIII of the early Nineties couldn’t quite manage the same. It was just rubbish. Contemporary reviews derided its steering, chassis and engine. Things got worse with the wayward RS Turbo in 1990, but that only lasted for a couple of years before it was replaced by the 1.8-litre Zetec-engined RS1800. While that was a much better car for all kinds of reasons, it’s still not one that’s gone down in history as a great Fast Ford.
Which may or may not be why the Blue Oval decided to take a break from overly sporty Fiestas for a bit, once it killed off the MkIII in 1997. Instead of doing an XR version of the MkIV or MkV, it took the platform, stuck it under a pretty, two-door coupe body and gave it a new name: Puma. There were fast-ish Fiestas in that time, but it was the Puma that did the heavy lifting, and did it well. Nowadays you can get one for pennies. And you should, because they’re brilliant.