This model had the longest production life of any Fiesta to date, achieved the highest yearly sales of any Fiesta in the early 1990s, and underwent numerous changes in its life. For example, the car had four different versions of standard steering wheels during its lifetime (the launch wheel, then updated in 1992, 1994 and 1995) and the most changes to standard UK trim levels of any Fiesta (examples across the years show the large line-up: Popular, Popular Plus, L, LX, Ghia, 1.6S, XR2i, RS Turbo, RS1800, Fiesta, Louisiana, DL, SX, Azura, Si, Classic, Classic Quartz, Classic Cabaret, Saphire). A Fiesta-derived van, the Ford Courier, was launched in 1991.
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Fuel injection engines became available in 1991. Major changes were introduced to the range in 1994: steering wheel airbags were made standard across the range, a move not echoed by arch-rival Vauxhall's Corsa until November 2000. Major structural improvements were made to improve safety, as well as a new immobiliser being fitted to petrol models. The UK trim line-up was also simplified to Fiesta, LX, Si (which also had a new bumper and seat designs) and Ghia. 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 8v CVH (compact valve head) engine but was replaced by a Zetec 16v 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 1.8 L Zetec fuel-injected engine with the 130 PS (96 kW; 130 hp) version of the then-current Ford Escort XR3i and had a top speed of 125 mph (201 km/h). The XR2i name was also 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 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 IV. To distinguish the car, trim levels were revised in and it it marketed as the "Fiesta Classic". This continued until production finally ceased in 1997.