The Ford Fiesta Mk3 was the third generation of the Ford Fiestasupermini built by Ford Europe. Originally introduced in 1989, the Mk3 represented the biggest change to the Fiesta since the original car was introduced in 1976. In addition to the 3-door hatchback and panel van versions that had formed the Fiesta range, a 5-door hatchback was also added. The Fiesta Mk3 was replaced by the Fiesta Mk4 in 1995, but remained on sale until early 1997. The Mk4 was a major restyle of the Mk3, but had the same chassis.
The third generation Fiesta, codenamed BE-13 was unveiled at the end of 1988 and officially went on sale in February of the following year with UK sales commencing in April. The car was based on a new platform ditching the old car’s rear beam axle for a semi-independent torsion beam arrangement and looked radically different, addressing the principal weakness of the previous generation – the lack of a 5-door derivative, something that was by then available in its major rivals such as the Fiat Uno, Peugeot 205 and Opel Corsa/Vauxhall Nova. The engine range remained broadly the same with the Valencia engine – now substantially revised and redesignated HCS (High Compression Swirl) – powering the 1.0L, 1.1L and 1.3L versions, and the CVH unit in larger capacities. The LT diesel engine was enlarged to a 1.8L capacity.
This model had the longest production life of any Fiesta to date, achieved the highest yearly sales of any Fiesta in the early 1990s – achieving a sales volume of 1 million units inside the first two years of production. A Fiesta-derived van, the Courier, was launched in 1991.
In the British market, Fuel injected engines only became available in 1991. They had been sold in countries with more stringent emissions controls since the introduction. In 1992 a number of prototype cars were produced by Ford fitted with direct injection two stroke engines produced by the Orbital Engine Corporation of Australia, with full-scale production anticipated by Ford in “two to three years time”. The cars were tested extensively in the UK, but ultimately it was decided not to go ahead with production versions. Major changes were introduced to the range in 1993; major structural improvements were made to improve safety, as well as a new immobiliser being fitted to petrol models. Revised door mirrors were also fitted, as were a line-up of fresh wheel trim designs.
As for sports models, the XR2i was launched in 1989 with an eight-valve CVH engine with 104 PS (76 kW). This was then replaced by a Zetec 16 valve version in 1992, which also saw the RS Turbo being supplanted by the RS1800 as the CVH engine was being phased out. The RS1800 shared its engine with the 130 PS (96 kW; 130 bhp) version of the then-current Escort XR3i and had a top speed of 125 mph (201 km/h). The XR2i name was dropped in early 1994, and the insurance-friendly “Si” badge appeared in its place on a slightly less sporty-looking model with either the 1.4 L CVH-PTE (a development of the CVH) or the 1.6 L Zetec engine.
From 1995 the vehicle was built and sold at the same time as the new Mark 4. To distinguish the car, trim levels were revised, and it was marketed as the “Fiesta Classic”, with a small range consisting of Classic, Classic Quartz, and Classic Cabaret models, and a ‘Special Edition’ Frascati model. Production of these models took place in Valencia, Spain. This version continued until production finally ceased in early 1997.