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Car reviews - Ford - Capri - XR2 convertible

Our Opinion

We like
Investement potential, folding roof, utterly reliable Mazda underpinnings, '80s cool chic, surprisingly practical and economical
Room for improvement
No sports car, early cars' gremlins

25 Jul 2003

THE XR2 was a new addition to the Capri model line-up in the revised SC series introduced in April, 1992. The Capri was a neat package of small front-wheel convertible with a rear bench seat and some useful luggage space.

The Capri appealed to people who wanted a practical, fun vehicle rather than an outright sports car.

The detachable hardtop provided a more comfortable, secure interior with the bonus of stiffening the car and reducing "scuttle shake" - the phenomenon familiar in open-top cars where the dashboard vibrates visibly on rough roads.

The XR2 was available with a normally aspirated or turbocharged engine.

Standard equipment included power steering, electric windows, power mirrors and alloy wheels.

The XR2 Turbo added leather interior trim with matching leather-bound steering wheel and driving lights. Options for both models were a hardtop, air-conditioning and a CD player.

The SE series XR2 and XR2 Turbo released in August, 1993, had styling changes that included more rounded front and rear bumpers and side skirts. The interior trim was upgraded and cruise control became standard equipment, as did central locking.

Capri engines, along with many other mechanical components, are Mazda sourced and similar to those used in the Ford Laser.

Both EFI and turbocharged engines are 1.6-litre, twin cam fours with 16-valve cylinder heads. Power output is 77kW or 100kW for the turbocharged engine.

Transmissions are a five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic. The turbo was only available with manual transmission.

Suspension is by MacPherson struts and coil springs at the front and transverse links and coil springs at the rear. Anti-roll bars are fitted front and rear.

Fuel consumption around town should be 9 to 10 litres per 100 kilometres and 7 to 8 litres per 100 kilometres on the highway. The turbo will need to be driven very gently to get similar figures and will get thirsty if driven hard.

The engine, being an older design, is not as smooth or refined as some of its rivals, particularly the Nissan NX. Performance of the standard XR2 is similar to the Toyota Paseo while the XR2 Turbo is equal to the best of its rivals.

Handling is safe and predictable with minimal body roll due to the low centre of gravity. Transverse engine, front-wheel drive layout causes understeer that increases as cornering speeds rise.

Durability of the Capri mechanical components has never been in doubt but the turbocharged engines do not last as long as normally aspirated engines, particularly if they have been neglected or had a hard life.

Early Capris did have some weather proofing problems that allowed water to leak into the interior. There were a number of modifications and upgrades and by the time the SE Capri was released water leaks were not so much of a problem.

Parts sharing with other Ford and Mazda models has kept most Capri spare parts prices to reasonable levels. The XR2 also uses similar technology and engineering to other Ford products which means service costs are similar to Laser.

The Capri XR2 is a unique combination of four-seat, open-top driving at a comparatively low price. When production of the Capri stopped, it left a gap in the market place and demand for second-hand models is strong.

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