Cars are often seen as vices. But they also offer the possibility of moral redemption. Take this Lambo-door ZX2, for example. When I saw it on the side of Hwy. 99, my instant reaction was one of utter derision. Obviously, the door geometry played a part in that. But is it fair to judge a car by a twisted hinge alone? But it was more than that; I realized the car itself was a big part of my prejudice. Where was that coming from? Time for some serious soul searching.
Most prejudice arises from ignorance, and I have to plead guilty when it comes to the ZX2. It’s just not a car I ever thought much about, except for the negative association I have always made to its dorky predecessor, the EXP. Now that’s a little stinker I can be disdainful about with a clear conscience. And I’m desperately keeping an eye out for one, to feature in a CC. So the Escort ZX2 is the innocent victim of my EXP-hate transference, because I’ve never stopped to really think about it. Time for some enlightenment.
I always assumed the ZX2 used the Escort’s modest CVH engine, and was just a “sporty variant” in name, like the EXP. Turns out the ZX2 was a fair bit more ambitious than that, and came only with the 130hp Zetec DOHC four. And due to different cam timing, it was a higher revving unit than the one that came in the Focus, which eventually put the ZX2 out of business. But given that the ZX2 weighed a couple of hundred pounds less than the Focus, and the readily available go-fast parts for the Zetec, this car still has a fairly loyal and enthusiastic following. Who knew? Not me, obviously.
There was even a track-ready ZX2 S/R to compete with the Neon ACR and Civic Si. It came with all the aftermarket goodies bolted on: Eibach springs, Tokico struts, Energy Suspension polyurethane suspension bushings, more power through a Ford Racing PCM, more efficient intake (Roush and Iceman), rear disc brakes, a stronger clutch (Centerforce), a short-throw B&M manual-transmission shifter, an S/R-unique shift knob and boot, upgraded seats, a unique blue valve cover, a different speed cluster that goes up to 150 mph (240 km/h) and a unique tire/wheel package. Engine power was increased 10 percent over the base Zetec engine used in the ZX2 to 143 bhp (107 kW; 145 PS), courtesy of a recommended premium fuel re-calibration, new air inlet system, the performance PCM, improved Borla muffler and pipe.Wow.
I have completed my ZX2 diversity training program, and I am a better person for it. Now I just need to deal with my rage about those #@$*^ Lambo doors.