Ford Granada Mark III / Ford Scorpio
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 1
When Ford’s European HQ set about designing their mid 1980s generation of flagship passenger cars, they made a deliberate effort at achieving a more externally compact car than the previous Granada model. It seemed that the maximum practical width for a European car had been reached, or even exceeded, and it was time to start trimming back the body without sacrificing passenger accommodation.
So the new Granada, compared with its predecessor, was a swoopy, lean-of-flank car, just a little easier to weave through small towns and heavy urban traffic. Being narrower, it was also more aerodynamic
– understandable given that by 1985
Ford were fully committed to the utilization of wind tunnel assistance in body design.
The 3rd generation Granada was essentially a rebadged Ford Scorpio. The Granada name was used in the UK and Ireland only, with the Scorpio badge (which covered the whole range in Continental Europe) being reserved for the top-range versions. It was also the first European volume production model to have anti-lock brakes
fitted as standard across the range.
Engine options included the familiar SOHC Pinto engine, in either tax-barrier undercutting 1.8 litre form, or a more powerful 2-litre version with fuel injection available. The Cologne V6 engines were carried over from the previous range in short-lived (and not much more powerful than the 2 litre Pinto) 2.4 litre, and 2.8 litre (later 2.9 litre) capacities.
The Granada Scorpio Full Time 4x4
Top of the range was to Granada Scorpio, which was even a step above the Ghia designation we were familiar with on Australian Fords. What made the Scorpio special was the permanent full-time four wheel drive, plus virtually every option then available in a Ford, such as leather seats, anti-theft alarm, cruise control and separate sound system management for the rear seat passengers.
There were electrically-adjustable seats at the front AND rear, an electric sunroof, air-conditioning
, power steering, a rapid-demist windscreen with laminated-in hot wire; self-levelling rear suspension
and ABS braking. And all that was before going into all the smaller detail such as the built-in trip computer, power windows, multi-adjustable steering column and pneumatic lumbar support.
This Mark III Granada was very much a step upwards into the luxury prestige market by Ford and on paper it incorporated all the usable automotive technology then known to man. The Granada could well have been the sort of car Australia might have been driving if the decision was not made to embark on the EA26 program instead. While it was obviously conceived with Europe in mind, the Granada still remained a car with sufficient bulk to appeal to the Australian market.
In fact the sheer vastness of this European Ford, once you were inside, was quite remarkable. The car almost seemed to defy what the specifications told you because although its dimensions weren’t all that different to Rover's 825i it felt as big as a Fairlane in the back seat. It was a class leader in that regard, with the possible exception of Saab's 900 CD. And its list of mechanical goodies was such that it’s inherent active safety credentials were second to none. Dynamically it was without peer.
The reality of the Granada 4x4 - which was available in downmarket Ghia as well as Scorpio form - was that unless you were utilizing some of this enormous ability in deteriorating road conditions, you were not really aware when driving it that all these backup systems were even there. The car drove pretty much the same as any ordinary rear-drive sedan, unless you got lock on in a tight three point turn and sensed the centre differential straining to alleviate the wind-up developing between front and rear axles. Other than that, there was no sign of the constant four wheel drive. The car handled particularly well in dry-road conditions - Ford arranged the 4x4 with a 34/66 torque split - and didn't show any particular tendency to run wide with the power on.
Ford played down the model identification: there were larger 15 inch wheels, a slightly raised stance on the road, a small 4x4 badge on the boot-lid and that was it. When asked, the Granada demonstrated overtly European tendencies in its preference for the long run along the autobahn, only really getting into stride when the needle swung past 140 km/h. Under that, it was obvious that 2.8 litres of overhead valve V6 was having a little trouble pulling the high ratios.
Behind the Wheel
Ford never provided (to our knowledge) a weight for the 4x4s, but the Scorpio was obviously heavier than the standard two wheel drive car's 1350 kg. With all the extra driveline gear, the 4x4 was probably tipping the scales at over 1500 kg - a fair lump for pushrods and 2.8 litres to haul around. But the high gearing did allow some compensations: the average consumption figure for most road-testers of the time was just a whisker over 10 litres/100 kilometres.
Given the amount of wind-tunnel design that went into the Mark III Granada, it was strange that so much harmonic drumming was evident in the five door hatchback body. With the tighter suspension
of the 4x4, and the possibility that a little more mechanical noise was transmitted via the extra driveshaft coming forward off the gearbox, the 4x4 Scorpio was obviously not a quiet luxury cars. The body structure would tend to pick up any sound produced by the suspension
or driveline and magnify, rather than attenuate it.
But to be fair – we are judging what we would have considered to be a problem had the car been travelling on Australian roads. In Europe, however, their back-roads were smoother and better built that our highways – so it really was not such a problem. Two wheel drive Granada’s, with their softer-rate suspension
and 70 ratio tyres, rode more softly and quietly than the 4x4. But even the 2 wheel drive Granada was not as quiet as an Audi in terms of wind-noise. But you could forgive the noise, confident in the knowledge that the all-independent chassis was extremely competent in its ability to cope with being pushed along, especially when weather conditions turned sour.
The Scorpio 2.9
Overall the Ford Granada Mark III was impressive, both in presentation and dynamics. The styling was typically ‘80s, but there was a certain organic nature about it that remained appealing to those who understood the car needed improvement and evolutionary development. In 1991 a new range-topping vehicle was introduced, the Scorpio 24-valve. It featured a 2.9 litre Cologne engine that had been extensively re-worked by Cosworth Engineering and featured quad camshafts and 24 valves
, enough for 200 bhp (150 kW). According to Ford this gave a 0-60 mph time of 8.1 seconds and top speed of 140 mph (230 km/h).
This version of the Granada continued the "Ford family" styling concept from the previous versions; this time the car superficially resembled a larger version of the Cortina's successor, the Ford Sierra. The Ford Granada Mk III was the last car to car to bear the iconic Granada badge in the UK & Ireland being replaced in 1994 with the Pan-European Scorpio. The Scorpio shared its platform doors and roof with the Mk III Granada and these elements of the cars design were unremarkable. The styling of the nose and tail sections suffered from the application of the Ford Ovoid design school being used across the Ford range in the 1990s. On the Scorpio this appeared as a large gaping mouth, ‘bug’ eyed headlights and a bulbous boot. A 1998 redesign did nothing to save it from being axed the same year with total European sales only 95,587 units.