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Buying the Scorpio
Buying the Mk3
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Cleaning the Interior
Car control
Just a bad day!
Readers Wives
Owners Meetings
Running Costs
On the Road
Light Relief
After the Scorpio?
Owner Mods
Fuel Consumption


The Cosworth Scorpio must be Ford's best-kept secret. It is a phenomenal car; eager enough below 3,000 rpm, but when it passes that it is awesome, jamming you back into the seat while the engine note rises to a Formula 1 howl that will frighten off any boy racer in his GTi. Click the electronic auto out of overdrive on a hill and press on the accelerator and you can leave anything standing, including the big Beamers and Mercs. If you are passed by a Granada or a Scorpio you don't have to look for any badges to tell if it's a Cosworth - just look if the driver has a silly grin on his face!

Ford spent a fortune on the NVH for the new Scorpio, and it shows. The nosiest thing about the whole car are the tyres and on a smooth road the quiet is awesome. There is no wind noise, apart from fluting from the drivers door in severe cross-winds. At a steady 85 the engine is still silent at 2850 rpm, unless you floor it, and during a trip in Germany at a hundred and twenty every one in the cabin was still talking normally, the passengers completely unaware of our speed. I just had the silly grin on my face.  (For details of the differences from the Granada, see Scorpio Development)

On the road the 24V Scorpio never ceases to delight. The engine is effortlessly powerful, no matter what the load, and the steering is beautifully flat. The earlier Granadas were very comfortable, but I thought a bit too soft, so that you had to set it up carefully for bends or you wallowed on the way round. My last Granada, an M reg 2.9L, had that sorted, but it was too 'swoopy' on the steering and it still needed care to give your passengers a comfortable ride. The front suspension on the Scorpio has been completely revised, the ride firmer because of the 50% profile tyres, but the handling is awesome and this results in a precise, effortless drive that is great fun when you put the auto into 'sport' mode. This holds higher gears for longer and downshifts quicker. It makes the Scorpio feel like a different car. Miles per gallon? Who cares?

The climate control is wonderful on the Ultima – lower spec models have a/c only - no matter how clammy or hot the weather the interior remains beautifully cool and fresh - just dial the temperature you want and forget it. The blowers boost the air flow automatically and then gradually shut down as the selected temperature is reached. There are pollen filters on the air inlets and there is a re-circulate button to restrict the air to the interior. The system defaults to 'on' and the engine is powerful enough not to notice the drag. On hot sultry days the condenser leaves a little puddle of pure water on the road when the car is stopped and this is normal. The enormous compressor also causes an odd steering vibration at parking speeds; this too is normal. The other welcome item is the three-position-memory driving seat. This is terrific, because I am 6'2" tall and I used to have to adjust the front seats for hours to get comfortable, only to have my wife change the setting for a run to the shops! Now we each have our own setting, and the driving mirrors adjust to suit too.

With this sort of performance you would expect good brakes, and the Scorpio does not disappoint. Laying a foot on the brake gives you a smooth and powerful retardation and using any pressure on the pedal drags off your speed very confidently. On our last trip to Germany we had to do some severe braking for someone who wasn't using his mirrors, and from then on I felt a brake judder on medium braking from about 70mph. I had a quick look at the front disks and decided to change them. They are 280mm diameter 4-stud ventilated jobs that cost £75 + vat each from Ford. I used the standard Sierra/Granada hexagonal key to release the brake calipers from the upright and the new disks and pads went on without a problem. While I was doing that I had a good look at the revised suspension. Instead of the front struts being located by the anti-roll bar, the Scorpio has a radius arm mounted on a subframe that connects at the bottom of each Macpherson strut. This locates each wheel assembly much more positively and explains the pin-sharp steering. The anti-roll bar has been raised and is attached to the hub with a short link arm. Having looked at the rear disks (also ventilated) I changed them too. See Rear Brake Disks

Currently the trip computer shows an overall average of 24.9mpg. An odd item here is that if you fill the car right up (17 gallons), the trip computer shows only 244 miles to empty. For the next 100 miles the range to empty goes up because of the better fuel consumption on the motorway, so that it will still show 280 miles to empty a hundred miles later. On the return from Newcastle, I use the A1-M11-M25 route home and we often travel after 10pm. The roads quieten nicely and I can set the cruise control at a suitable speed and travel for hours without touching the accelerator. Touching the brake switches off the cruise control and coming out of a roundabout I press the resume button and let the car accelerate up to the set cruise speed again. My only gripe about the whole fascia is that the trip computer buttons are on the fascia and are awkward to use, and I can live with that.

At night the headlights are wonderful. There is only the single lens and a second Long Range lamp to one side and you would think that it would be lower-powered than the double bulbs of the Granada, but this isn't so. The bulb is inside one of those new focused bowls about 2" in diameter (See Technical - Changes from the Granada.) I have noticed that when you switch up to full beam the dipped beam remains on as well, so that there is no gap in light cover in front of you that there can be with the old setup. This used to be an old trick on the Ford Cortina, wiring the main beam together with the dipped so that both are on in full beam. It's funny that Ford have adopted this idea so many years later. The units can be switched to LHD for continental driving by a lever inside the headlamp. See Continental Driving. Instead of having separate switches for the rear/front fog lights, these are switched from the main headlamp knob. Pulling the knob out once give you the front fogs and again gives you the rear fogs. A cam arrangement on the switch prevents these lights being on without the headlamps, which is to comply with Construction and Use Regulations.

The parking radar mounted on the rear nearside interior is a boon, especially at night, and is an option on the Ultima. It beeps and the three little lights come on when reverse gear is selected. Green is clear, and amber comes on as you near an obstruction, which then flashes faster and beeps quicker as you get closer. When red comes on you can stop and there is still enough room to open the rear estate door. If you continue to reverse the beep will then sound a constant tone with about four inches to the obstacle, but I don't normally get that close. On a very long trip in foul weather the sensors set into the rear bumper can become dirty, but instead of giving a false warning the radar simply stops working.

There is also an electric sunroof which I never use. On the central armrest there is a button to switch off the electronic traction control which I have also never needed. This also defaults to on, and uses the rear brake ABS sensors linked to the engine management system to sense if one of the driving wheels starts to spin because of lack of adhesion. The system then uses the ABS to slow down the wheel and lifts the accelerator to reduce the power delivered by the engine. In principle it is a good idea, but in practice it’s rather like ABS: if you drive properly in the first place you rarely need it.

So - Is the car worth it?
The 24V Scorpio is not a car to buy if you want cheap motoring; the engine just begs you to use the power and it is virtually impossible to resist hearing that glorious noise as you open it up. Inevitably the mpg will not be as good as you are used to with the 12V. Although the insurance group is the same, the servicing costs are bound to be higher as well. But if you enjoy power and you are not obsessive about fuel costs the Scorpio repays you every time you drive it. There is a pure joy in feeling the enormous
torque urging you past all the Mr Ordinaries struggling up a long incline, and leaving cars which cost twice as much miles behind. If you enjoy the grunt in a 12V Granada - get a Cosworth and knock yourself out! The thrill of feeling the smooth autobox shifting down to 2nd gear at 85mph on a slope is something you will never forget.


Recently I spoke to another Scorpio Ultima owner and I looked down at his front wing as we spoke. I saw the numbers 2.3 on the wing. "What a shame." I said. "Pity you didn't go for the 24 valve."

He smiled ruefully at me. "You don't have to tell me that. I used to have one: I traded it for this. I thought it would be better on petrol, but I do miss the power." We chatted for a while. He explained that he was on the road all day and he thought the 24V was a bit heavy on petrol, so he bought the 2.3 in the same Ultima trim. But he then found that because he had to thrash the engine harder there was not a lot of difference in the fuel consumption from his Cosworth. Now he couldn't get used to the drop in power, no matter how smooth the new 2.3 engine might be. He went back to his dealer but they had already sold his old Cosworth. He asked them to find him another, but they shrugged.

"You'll be lucky to find a 24V," they told him, "Especially in Ultima trim. They go for well over book."


Now in 2004 I have owned the Scorpio for 6 years. Some bad luck and the neglect of a previous owner meant some bills to start with, (See Servicing) but this last year has been easy driving. The 24v is a car you can drive eight hundred and seventy-five  miles in a single day – I know because I did it – and still have the energy to have a drink afterwards. It is still a pleasure to climb into the leather interior and the power available flattens out the steepest hills so that one can cruise at any speed with any load.

The M62 between the A1 and Oldham is a case in point. It is the highest motorway in the UK and the elevation is reached after climbing for many miles in stages which seem to get steeper and longer until your ears pop with the change in air pressure. It is this sort of road which is a real test of power and torque, and I am reminded how good the Scorpio is every time I drive through. Even with four adults, a full tank of fuel, a dog and luggage on board, the Scorpio romps up the hills with insolent ease, maintaining its speed and overtaking struggling cars without even shifting out of overdrive. If additional power is required, flicking the green o/d button makes the Scorpio gather her skirts and surge ahead, powering away as if there simply wasn’t a hill at all. On my last journey I was cruising quietly at a generous 70 and was occasionally overtaken by little Novas and Astras and horrid little Nissans on the steep downward slopes, only to pass them effortlessly on the next steep incline, the cruise control set and my speed never varying one iota; leaving the little cars so far behind that I never saw them again. It is worthy of note that the only car which could keep pace with me, on both the uphill sections and the down slopes, was a nearly new Jaguar saloon which tucked behind me at safe distance as we sped through.

Lament the loss of the wonderful Scorpio 24V: how could one replace it?




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