Many believe that the Ford Meteor was before its time, as the platform for Ford was based completely off of the Mazda Familia, or Mazda 323, specifically for Australia and South Africa, and not a common sight on the road. In 1981, Ford released the Meteor in Australia as a compact sedan to replace a larger vehicle, the Cortina. With a smaller engine, fewer options, and basic styling, the ford Meteor was never meant to be the way of the future.
Since the market for compacts was strong at this time, however, the Meteor gained some respect once the market shifted to accept smaller vehicles with smaller engines. From 1981 to 1984, Ford offered the Meteor in two different trims: GL and Ghia. While both vehicles had basic amenities, either of them could be had with an automatic transmission.
As for the second generation, which was built from 1985 through 1987, Ford went with a few other trims including the EGI, Wagon, and Wagon L. With a slightly larger engine, this generation was more desirable. However, Ford soon discontinued using the Meteor name, as newer models switched over to Laser, which offered a few more body styles as well as a hatchback.
Since power was never an import feature of the Meteor, Ford opted for fuel economy instead of power. At launch, however, the base engine in the Ghia trim was actually the largest of the group at 1.5-litres, which produced 54.5 Kw of power and 110 Nm of torque. If you�re interested in more power, the GL trim did offer a Twin Carb version that offered 59 Kw of power and 117 Nm of torque and came with a 5-speed manual gearbox. As the first generation continued, the engine options included two smaller 4-cylinder versions, a 1.1-litre engine and 1.3-liter engine, but these versions are harder to find, because the 1.5-litre is the standard and was the most popular choice.
As for speed, neither engine really offered unrealistic 0-100km/h times, with the 54.5 Kw motor coming in at 13.2 seconds and the 59 kW motor at 12.7 seconds, respectively. The top speed for the Ford Meteor depended on the size of the motor as well and ranged from 158 km/h to 163 km/h.
Between 1985 and 1987, Ford installed a larger 1.6-litre engine that could be had with a selection of gearboxes that included a 3-speed automatic and 5-speed manual. Even though this engine was slightly larger, it produced just 2 more Kw of power, though fuel economy was slightly improved. Performance of this engine was also improved, as the 0-100 km/h was stated to be 11.8 seconds, almost a full second faster than the first generation Meteor.
Ford introduced the Meteor to the Australian market with the intention of marketing an affordable compact sedan. Since there was a large demand for simple, basic transportation, there was little emphasis on options, so options for the Ford Meteor were very sparse but did include air conditioning and alloy wheels. Standard equipment on all generations of the Ford Meteor included crank windows and AM/FM radio.
Much of the standard kit found in the Ford Meteor was everything offered in the Mazda Familia sedan, the vehicle off which the Ford Meteor was based. The main exterior difference between the Meteor and the Familia was the Meteor�s more rectangular grille and larger headlights that were installed into the grill to offer a sunken-in look to the body.
During its years of production, the Ford Meteor naturally was often compared to the Mazda Familia, due to the fact that it shared almost everything with the sister vehicle. Offering only a narrow selection of features, options, or colours, the Meteor�s initial competition was mainly its older brother, the Ford Cortina. Since the Cortina offered multiple body styles, including a station wagon, and larger engines, including a base 2.0-litre 4-cylinder as well as a top of the line 4.1-litre 6-cylinder, many just opted for the larger vehicle.
The smaller competition for the Ford Meteor is very strong, and includes such compacts as the Mazda Capella, Honda CRX, and VW Golf. Each of the competitors offered more styling, power, and consumer following. The Ford Meteor was never a strong seller, which is why after just two generations Ford changed the name to the Ford Laser, and then eventually changed it again the to the Ford Focus.