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Ford Laser
[[File:MHV Ford KH Laser GL 1992-1995 01.jpg1991–1994 Ford KH Laser GL hatchback.|frameless|upright=1.25|alt=]]
Manufacturer Ford Motor Company
Production 1980-2003
Assembly Oakville, Ontario, Canada[1]
Taiwan (Ford Lio Ho, CKD)[2]
Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia[3]
Hai Duong, Vietnam[4]
Rayong, Thailand[5]
Homebush, Australia[6]
New Zealand[6]
United States[6]
Valencia, Venezuela
Predecessor Ford Escort
Successor Ford Focus
Class Compact
Related Ford Capri
Ford Escort (North America)
Ford Meteor
Mazda 323
Mercury Tracer

Ford Lynx redirects here, for the Lynx armoured car built by Ford Canada, see Daimler Dingo
Laser was also trim level of Ford Sierra sold in some markets
The Ford Laser is a compact car sold by Ford in Asia, Oceania, and parts of South America, and Africa. It has generally been available as a sedan or hatchback, although convertible, wagon and pick-up versions have also been available in different markets.

Relationship to Mazda 323

The Ford Laser was a restyled version of the Familia/323 models produced by Mazda in Japan from 1980 onwards. (Ford had acquired a 25% stake in Mazda in 1979.)

In Australia and New Zealand where Ford was seen as a 'local' brand, the Laser outsold its Mazda twin, but in neighbouring Asian countries, such as Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong, as well as Japan itself, the reverse was the case. However, pooling resources with Mazda allowed Ford to maintain a foothold in the region. This was also the case in South America, Africa, and the Caribbean, where the Laser was also sold, in many cases being locally assembled.

KA/KB (1981–1985)

[[File:1981–1983 Ford Laser (KA) GL 5-door hatchback.1983–1985 Ford Laser (Kb) GL 5-door hatchback.|frameless|upright=1.25|alt=]]
Production 1980-1985
Body style(s) 3-door hatchback
4-door sedan
5-door hatchback
Engine(s) 1.3 L E3 I4
1.5 L E5 I4
1.5 L E5T I4

KA 1981-1983, KB 1983-1985

Engine specifications:

  • Mazda E1, 41 kW (55 hp) 1.1 L Carb 8V SOHC ('L' and 'GL' New Zealand models)
  • Mazda E3, 27 ft 9 in (8.5 m)49 kW 1.3 L Carb 8V SOHC ('L' and 'GL' models)
  • Mazda E5, 54 kW (72 hp) 1.5 L Carb 8V SOHC ('L', 'GL' and 'GHIA' models)
  • Mazda E5, 59 kW (79 hp) 1.5 L Twin Carb 8V SOHC ('Sports' models)
  • Mazda E5T, 78 kW (105 hp) 1.5 L Carb 8V SOHC Turbo (limited edition 'Turbo' models)
  • Mazda E5T, 85 kW (114 hp) 1.5 L EFI 8V SOHC Turbo ('Turbo' Japan models)

KC/KE (1985–1990)

[[File:1985–1987 Ford Laser (KC) Ghia 5-door hatchback (Australia)|frameless|upright=1.25|alt=]]
Production 1985–1990 (sedan, hatchback)
1986–1994 (wagon)
Body style(s) 2-door convertible
3-door hatchback
4-door sedan
4-door station wagon
5-door hatchback
Engine(s) 1.3 L E3 I4
1.6 L B6 I4
1.6 L B6T I4

The 1985 KC Laser/GC Meteor was the model's first major redesign. All body styles were carried over, with the addition of a station wagon (badged as "Meteor", like the sedan) from 1986. A new "TX3" variant, which was half-way between "GL" & "Ghia" in specification level, replaced the "Sport" variant from the KB series. Unlike the Sport, the TX3 was only available as a three-door. The "L" & "GL" models were no longer available as a three-door. A notable change was the introduction of engines capable of running on 91RON Unleaded petrol (this became mandatory in Australia from 1986). The 1.5-litre engine that was optional on GL, and standard on Ghia in the KB series was replaced with a new 1.6-litre unit. For the first time, Electronic Fuel Injection, was available as an option on Ghia and TX3 models. Buyers who ordered automatic transmission with this engine received an electronically-controlled 4-speed unit, which was quite advanced for a small car in 1985. The 1.3-litre engine was standard on the "L" (hatch-only – the wagon had a 1.6-litre engine). The 1.6-litre engine was standard on GL, Ghia & TX3. Fuel injection was optional on Ghia (standard on wagon) & TX3.

KC model range:

  • Laser L
  • Laser GL
  • Laser Ghia
  • Laser TX3
  • Meteor L (wagon only)
  • Meteor GL
  • Meteor Ghia

Ford Laser (KE) L 5-door

Ford Laser (KE) GL 5-door

1990–1994 Ford Laser (KE) GL wagon

Ford Laser (KE) TX3 3-door

In October 1987, Ford introduced a facelift of the KC series, the KE. There were a number of notable changes with the introduction of the KE. The "Meteor" name was dropped from the sedan and wagon body styles, meaning they were now badged as "Laser", like the hatchback variants. The TX3 was also now available with a turbocharged engine, and even All-Wheel-Drive, as options. The TX3 Turbo with AWD is now very rare and highly sought after. Another interesting fact is that the AWD was fully imported from Japan, while all other models in the Laser range were manufactured locally in the Sydney suburb of Homebush.

The KE is easy to distinguish from the earlier KC, by different grilles, headlights, tail lights, body-side mouldings, bonnet, front guards, and on some models, wheels. The dashboard and instrument cluster received new graphics, and the interior was available in slightly different colour shades to the KC. In mid-1989, in preparation for a new ADR (Australian Design Rule) to come into effect in 1990, all models were fitted with a high-mount rear stop lamp as standard. When the redesigned KF Laser was introduced in March 1990, the wagon continued in a sole GL specification, with minor upgrades until 1994, when Australian production of the Laser ceased.

The "L" is quite rare, as it was primarily aimed at the budget or fleet buyer. It had silver-painted 13" steel wheels, with no centre caps, a large analogue clock in the instrument cluster, no passenger-side rear-view mirror, vinyl interior trim, no body side mouldings, no rear windscreen wiper, and the folding rear seat was only one-piece. The stereo was also AM-only and had no cassette player. Air conditioning was not available. The only engine on offer was the 1.3-litre engine, with 4-speed manual transmission (no automatic was available). The "L" wagon had the same level of trim, except the 1.3-litre engine was replaced with the 1.6-litre unit but still with 4-speed transmission and no automatic available.

The "GL" was the most popular model. It featured the same silver-painted 13" steel wheels as the "L" but with satin chrome half-width centre caps (only covering the centre of the wheel), a digital clock on the top of the dashboard, cloth interior trim, grey body side mouldings, a rear windscreen wiper, grey tailgate and beaver panel garnishes and 50/50 split-fold rear seat. The stereo was an analogue-tuned AM/FM unit with a basic cassette player. Air conditioning was optional as a dealer-fit accessory. Power was provided by a 1.6-litre engine, with 4-speed manual transmission (5-speed manual or 3-speed automatic was optional). Sedan and wagon came standard with 5-speed transmission.

The Ghia was the top of the range model. It had black 14" steel wheels with full-size plastic wheel covers, power steering, body-coloured rear-view mirrors and bumpers, velour interior trim, tachometer, centre console with Ghia emblem, lockable glovebox, driver's seat with lumbar support and height adjust, storage drawer underneath the front passenger seat, full-size interior door trims, vanity mirror in passenger sunvisor, ticket holder in driver's sunvisor, felt interior hoodlining and sunvisors, rear headrests, additional warning lights in the instrument cluster, central locking with illuminated driver's door lock barrel, remote exterior mirrors, front door map pockets, front seatback pockets, additional reading lamps, chrome insert strips in the body side mouldings and bumpers, red tailgate garnish and orange beaver panel garnish. Air conditioning and power windows were optional. The stereo was a digitally-tuned AM/FM unit, which featured a cassette player with Dolby enhanced sound. The 1.6-litre engine was fitted as standard, with EFI optional (standard on wagon), with either 5-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmission (EFI automatic was 4-speed).

The TX3 was half-way between GL & Ghia in specification. It came standard with 14" satin-chrome alloy wheels, sports cloth interior trim, red insert strips in the body side mouldings and bumpers, black tailgate and beaver panel garnishes, and all other Ghia appointings. EFI was standard, and automatic transmission was not available. The TX3 also had a unique front fascia with quad headlights and the parker lamps incorporated into the indicator lenses (L/GL/Ghia had the parkers inside the main headlight unit) and two-tone paint.

Ford Laser (KE) GL Redline 5-door hatchback

Ford Laser (KE) GL Livewire sedan

Half-way through KE production, Ford introduced two limited edition versions, called "Redline", and "Livewire". The Redline was baed on the GL hatch, while the Livewire was based on the GL sedan and hatch. The Redline featured the TX3's alloy wheels, two-tone paint and red inserts in the body-side mouldings and bumpers, air conditioning, and a tachometer. The Livewire featured yellow inserts in the body side mouldings and bumpers, air conditioning, and a tachometer. Both models had 5-speed manual transmission (as opposed to the standard 4-speed) as standard, with 3-speed automatic transmission as an option.

KE model range;

  • Laser L - Hatch or wagon
  • Laser GL - Hatch, sedan or wagon
  • Laser Ghia - Hatch, sedan or wagon
  • Laser TX3
  • Laser TX3 Turbo
  • Laser TX3 Turbo AWD

Engine specifications:

  • Mazda E3, 49 kW (66 hp) 1.3 L Carb 8V SOHC ('L' and 'GL' models)
  • Mazda E5T, 85 kW (114 hp) 1.5 L EFI 8V SOHC Turbo ('Cabriolet' Japan models)
  • Mazda B6, 53 kW (71 hp) 1.6 L Carb 8V SOHC ('GL' and 'GHIA' models)
  • Mazda B6, 62 kW (83 hp) 1.6 L EFI 8V SOHC (option on 'GHIA' models and standard on 'TX3' models)
  • Mazda B6T, 100 kW (130 hp) 1.6 L EFI 16V DOHC Turbo ('TX3 Turbo' and 'Turbo 4WD' models)

KF/KH (1989–1995)

[[File:1990 Ford KF Laser L 01.jpg|frameless|upright=1.25|alt=]]
1990 Ford KF Laser 5-door Hatchback (modified)
Production 1989-1995
Body style(s) 3-door hatchback
4-door sedan
4-door station wagon
5-door hatchback

Engine specifications:

  • Mazda B3, 47 kW (63 hp) 1.3 L Carb 16V SOHC ('XL')
  • Mazda B6-2E, 64 kW (86 hp) 1.6 L Carb 16V SOHC ('L', 'XL', 'GL', 'Horizon', 'Livewire' and 'Indy' models)
  • Mazda BP SOHC aka B8, 76 kW (102 hp) 1.8 L F/I 16V SOHC ('GHIA', 'S' and 'GLi' models)
  • Mazda BP DOHC, 92 kW (123 hp) 1.8 L F/I 16V DOHC ('TX3 non-turbo' models)
  • Mazda BPT, 117 kW (157 hp) 1.8 L F/I 16V DOHC Turbo ('Turbo 4WD' models)

1991 Ford KF Laser GL Livewire sedan (Australia)

1993 Ford KH Laser S 3-door Hatchback

KJ/KL (1994–1998)

[[File:1996-1997 Ford Laser (KJ II (KL)) Liata 5-door hatchback.|frameless|upright=1.25|alt=]]
Production 1994-1998
Body style(s) 4-door sedan
3-door hatchback
5-door hatchback
Engine(s) 1.8 L DOHC
1.6 L DOHC

The Japanese built KJ Laser represented a major change in design; looking very different to the previous KH model. The new KJ Laser was introduced in 1994 with variants, facelifts and engine driveline improvements continuing up until the last of the KJ series were released in 1998. The KJ Laser was the first Laser manufactured wholly in Japan, following Ford Australia's decision to close their Homebush plant. However, the KJ was disappointing in sales numbers mainly because of the smaller Festiva and other cheaper Korean models to which many conservative buyers flocked.

Engine Specifications:

  • Mazda B6, 80 kW, 1.6L, 16V, DOHC ('LXi' models)
  • Mazda BP, 92 kW, 1.8L, 16V, DOHC ('GLXi' and some 'LXi' models)

KN/KQ (1999–2003)

[[File:Ford Laser Lidea hatchback/wagon (Japan)|frameless|upright=1.25|alt=]]
Production 1999-2003
Body style(s) 4-door sedan
5-door hatchback
Engine(s) 1.8 L
2.0 L
1.6 L

1999–2001 Ford Laser (KN) GLXi sedan (Australia)

The KN Laser was the last new shape of Laser to be introduced. Released in Australia in May 1999, the model range was a carbon copy of the outgoing KJ/KL Laser. With the KN, the Laser was almost completely identical to the Mazda 323 on which it was based, which was the first time since the KE Laser. In February 2001, the KN received a minor facelift and became the KQ Laser. The big news with the KQ Laser was the addition of a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine for the new top-spec "SR2", which was also the first sports-oriented Laser variant in almost five years, since the unpopular Laser Lynx was discontinued in 1996. A new "SR" level of trim, which sat below SR2 was also introduced at this time. The KQ can be distinguished from the earlier KN, with a new grille with chrome moulding, new headlights, revised tail lights, different exterior colours, and slightly revised interiors. In March 2002, due to falling sales, Ford made one last attempt to restore the Laser's popularity to its former glory, by announcing minor upgrades to the SR2, and added three new exterior colours to the range, being "Goldrush", "Red Revenge", and "Electric Blue". Three engines were available, a 1.6-litre that was fitted to the LXi, a 1.8-litre that was fitted to the GLXi & SR, and a 2.0-litre that was exclusive to the SR2. Despite Laser having a good reputation with buyers in the marketplace, and many attempts from Ford to re-ignite interest in the model, it still failed to sell in reasonable numbers. In September 2002, Ford decided to discontinue the Laser in Australia, replacing it with the European-sourced Focus.

Model range;

  • Laser LXi (Sedan or hatch)
  • Laser GLXi (Sedan or hatch)
  • Laser SR (Hatch only)
  • Laser SR2 (Hatch only)
  • Mazda 1.8 L FP-DE DOHC I4 ('GHIA', 'S' and 'GLi' models)
  • Mazda 2.0 L FS, 97 kW (130 hp) and 183 N·m (135 ft·lbf)
  • Mazda 2.0 L FS-ZE (2001 Sport 20)
  • 1.6 L ZM-DE 72 kW (97 hp) and 145 N·m (107 ft·lbf)


The Ford Laser was sold in several markets over the vehicle's lifespan.


Japanese-market 1985 Laser TX3 (DOHC turbo full-time 4WD model)

Platform and assembly-line sharing with the locally produced Mazda Familia allowed the Laser to be offered with a plethora of engine, paint and trim configurations not available anywhere else in the world. This was most notably evident during the 1980s with multiple turbocharged variants, 'unique' bodyshells such as the Cabriolet, and full-time 4WD models all available years before their debuts in other markets (and in some cases, never making it offshore at all).

Along with the Japanese produced Ford Telstar and Ford Festiva the Laser was sold at special 'Autorama' dealerships.

The first Lasers went on sale in late 1982 as the BE series, which was identical to the Australian KB Laser. Fuel-injection and a 115 PS turbocharged model were added in July 1983; these variants were never offered for sale outside of Japan.

January 1985 saw the advent of the BF series Laser (KC/KE in other markets). For the first time a Diesel version was offered, as well as a factory 2-door cabriolet, a DOHC 16-valve Sport version, and a potent 140 PS DOHC turbo model with full-time 4WD drivetrain (identical to the contemporary Mazda Familia BFMR). This added up to an extremely convoluted product line, which was later streamlined in 1987 with a mid-life model refresh (KE series in other markets).

The model refresh dropped E-series engines in favour of all-new B-series equivalents, poorer-selling variants were discontinued, and minor changes were made to exterior styling and interior trim.

The BG series of 1989-1994 (KF/KH) went on to be the most popular Laser sold in Japan, with the new "coupe" (liftback) version an instant success. Again, a DOHC turbo model with full-time 4WD was offered as a companion car to the Mazda Familia GT-X, now producing 180 PS (132 kW/178 hp) from an increased displacement of 1.8 litres.

Unfortunately, all sporting models were discontinued when the BHA (KJ/KL) model was released in 1995 in the wake of poor sales and financial returns as Mazda scaled back operations and sought to rearrange market focus. As a result the Laser was renamed Laser Lidea and popularity waned further towards the end of the 1990s, until production of the final BJ (KN/KQ) model ceased at the end of 2002, to be replaced by the imported Ford Focus, which was already sold there since 2000.


The Laser replaced the rear-wheel-drive Escort in Australia in 1981, proving hugely popular as a hatchback in both 3 door and 5 door varieties, as well as the sedan known as the Meteor. Ford Australia marketed them as separate vehicles, providing a worthy rival to Japanese models like the Toyota Corolla; the Meteor nameplate died in Australia when the KE sedan was launched in 1987, but survived in South Africa until 1995.

Local production of the Laser in Australia ceased in 1994 when Ford closed its plant in Homebush in Sydney, and imported the model from Japan. The Laser was finally replaced by the Focus in 2002.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, the Laser was sold as both a hatchback and sedan, and was later assembled alongside the Mazda 323 at the Vehicle Assemblers of New Zealand (VANZ) plant in Wiri, Auckland in a joint venture between Ford New Zealand and Mazda. The KC/KE Laser wagon was also assembled locally, alongside its Mazda 323 equivalent, until 1996. When the plant closed in 1997, Ford dropped the Laser and introduced the Ford Escort hatchback and sedan, having already introduced the Escort wagon. It later reintroduced the Laser in 1999, and was not replaced by the Focus until 2003.

South Africa

The Laser was introduced in South Africa in 1986, as a hatchback, with the sedan version being sold as the Meteor. Replacing the Ford Escort, it was produced alongside the Mazda 323 by Samcor. The Laser was already sold in Zimbabwe, where the previous generation model had been introduced in 1981. The KC/KE Laser and Meteor remained in production in South Africa until 1995, when the Escort was reintroduced. However, Ford introduced an entry-level model called the Tonic, a rebadged version of the last version of KF hatchack Mazda 323 (VI gen), which was sold until 2003.

North America

The second generation of the American Ford Escort was a Laser with some cosmetic changes.

In 1987, a version of the Laser built in Mexico was exported to the USA, where it was known as the Mercury Tracer. In Canada, Ford opted to import the Mercury Tracer from Taiwan instead. The Laser was the basis of later Escort models sold in North America, which is not to be confused with the model of the same name sold in Europe. In 1991, the American Ford Escort was replaced by a version of the Laser/323, although the Escort name was retained. The Escort Wagon seen in North America during that generation was unique to that continent and was not part of the Laser ranges elsewhere.

Latin America and Caribbean

The Ford Laser was also assembled and sold in some countries in Latin America, such as Colombia and Venezuela, and was sold in right hand drive markets in the Caribbean such as Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.


As well as being produced in Japan, the Laser was also assembled in Malaysia and Indonesia (in right hand drive). It was also assembled in left hand drive markets like Taiwan and the Philippines. In Taiwan, (where it was assembled by local joint venture Ford Lio Ho), the Laser sedan was replaced by the Tierra, with distinct styling. Updated versions of this model have also been sold in Thailand as the Laser Tierra, while in Malaysia, the Laser was renamed the Lynx. In Indonesia, it was commonly used by local taxi companies before being replaced by the Toyota Soluna and the Toyota Vios.[citation needed]


The 1981 Laser was also sold in Cyprus, being similar to the Australian model.


The Laser has now been replaced in most markets around the world by the European-sourced Focus, designated as one of Ford's 'world cars'. The Mazda 323's replacement, the Mazda3, is also based on the same platform as the new model Focus, meaning that both companies' products in this market segment will use the same platform around the world.

2005 Ford Laser Lynx RS

Updated versions of the Laser known as the Laser, Laser Tierra, Laser Lance, Laser Lynx RS, Laser RS, and Tierra were marketed in Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Taiwan, respectively, but were eventually replaced by the Focus.


These were not a UK models so examples are very unlikely to be seen in the UK at classic vehicle shows.

It may appear in other countries at events.

add details here of any known examples at shows.


add your photos here

See also


  1. "Facilities | Ford Motor Company Newsroom". Retrieved on 2010-07-27.
  2. "Facilities | Ford Motor Company Newsroom". Retrieved on 2010-07-27.
  3. "Facilities | Ford Motor Company Newsroom". Retrieved on 2010-07-27.
  4. "Facilities | Ford Motor Company Newsroom". Retrieved on 2010-07-27.
  5. "Facilities | Ford Motor Company Newsroom". Retrieved on 2010-07-27.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Tony Davis, The New Car Buyers Guide, 1990/91 Edition, Universal Magazine, Melbourne, Australia

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