The Ford Telstar is the result of a partnership between the American carmaker and Mazda. It was, in its most basic form, an American Mazda 626. In fact, both cars shared a lot of their components together. Apart from Asia, the Ford Telstar was also marketed in Africa, Asia, and New Zealand. In terms of size, it was equal to that of the Ford Tempo and Sierra. The Ford Telstar shares the same platform as the Mazda 626, although both of them have distinct styling, specifications, and engines.
The first model was introduced in 1983 as a replacement for the Ford Cortina. Unlike its predecessor, the car only came as a sedan or hatchback, which was called the TX5. The Cortina had stopped production in 1981, and the Ford Telstar filled the gap caused by this in Ford’s line. When it was introduced in 1983, the Ford Telstar did not have extra engine options. It had a single 2.0L carburetted engine that delivered 70kW.
After its introduction, the Ford Telstar quickly gained its place in the automotive market. It had a lot of unique features at the time, like the push-button adjustable suspension and the digital instrument cluster. The former was present in the Mazda model as well, but the latter was completely unique to the Telstar. The uniqueness of the car got it the Car of the Year award from Wheels magazine in 1983. The car received some changes in 1987 that included a whole new Mazda GD platform.
A station wagon model was also introduced for New Zealand, although the drivetrain remained the same. However, the carburettor was replaced by a standard fuel injection system for the Ford Telstar. In 1989, the local production of the Ford Telstar almost came to a halt, and the car was going to be replaced by the Corsair; however, production and sales would continue until 1995 when the Ford Telstar was replaced by the Mondeo.
The Ford Telstar was not only a good-looking car but also a decently powered one. All models, including the sedan, five-door hatch, and wagon came with a single overhead, 2.0L, 4-cylinder engine under the bonnet that delivered 70kW of power and 158Nm of torque. A 5-speed manual transmission was standard, but a 3-speed automatic shift was also available. Unlike the Mazda 626, the Ford Telstar came with power steering and power accessories, and for the most part, the car delivered a good performance. Post 1985, however, the Ford Telstar got better handling and ride quality, improved brakes, and other performance upgrades. The next year, the car also received engines that could run on unleaded petrol.
The Ford Telstar comes with standard kit like power steering, door locks, and power windows. It had a wider instrument console than the Mazda 626m, not to mention a digital panel without the tachometer. For the most part, the car got all the necessary features and options like air-conditioning, cruise control, and central locking. The interior of the Ford Telstar was very similar to that of the Mazda apart from the front console. The wipers, light indicators, radio speaker position, and controls were mostly the same. On the outside, the Ford Telstar had a new Ford grille with better detailing in the area under the bumper.
The Ford Telstar TX5 Ghia coupe was the top-end model with tinted glass, adjustable suspension, rear wiper and washer, door-ajar alarms, and full wheel covers and instrumentation. It also had a height adjustable driver’s seat, special lights for ignition locks and doors, and alloy wheels. The car also looks a little sleeker than the 626 because of the slightly tweaked rear design. Fuel efficiency for most models is pretty identical, which is 9L/100km in the city and 6.8L/100km on the open road.
With the features available with the Ford Telstar, the car was a pretty solid competitor during its production run and even today. One of its main competitors was the GM Camira, which had a lower price than the Telstar but much lower performance. The Camira came with a 1.6L engine, but the bump in performance that was possible with the 2.0L engine in the Telstar was well worth the extra price.
The Ford Telstar was, in fact, one of the best mid-size cars in the carmaker’s production line at the time. Even now, the Ford Telstar makes for a very good car in terms of performance and price. The Ford Telstar S Pack was a fully equipped sedan with 70 section tires, 5-speed gearbox, full instrumentation and wheel covers, fog lights, and cloth trim. With the digital instrumentation, it had a cost similar to the Mazda base model.