A proper fast, refined luxury car from the FoMoCo
Traction control failed, resulting in the car being in an accident. The auto gearbox was damaged as a result.
I had this car for about two months, and I have to say that I loved it.
We bought the car cheap on an impulse as my wife liked it. She drove the car more than me, as I had a motorbike at the time.
This is a very big car. I'm six foot tall, and I could sit comfortably in the back with the front seat all the way back. If you look at the side of the car, you will probably notice that the rear doors are slightly longer then the front. The seats were massive and squishy and comfy, and the interior is a lovely place to be.
My car was not the Ultima model, but an Executive, and the 1st owner must have ticked all of the options boxes. It had Recaro electric leather and alcantara seats, 10-disc CD, premium stereo (I counted twelve speakers), dual zone automatic air conditioning climate control, all round electrics, heated front screen, auto gearbox, wood centre console, leather dash and door cards, chrome alloys, traction control, the lightest PAS ever, ABS, remote locking, remote boot release, a nifty gadget that dipped the passenger wing mirror when you put it into reverse, self-levelling suspension and headlights, automatic headlights, automatic wipers, multi-function computer, limited-slip differential, pearl silver paint that flipped to blue and green in the light, and some pretty well placed lights (on the inside of all four doors, in the door locks, under the sun visors, in the footwells, engine bay, four lights in the boot, individual lights in the cabin etc).
To drive it is amazing. Smooth, quiet, comfortable. I've been in Jags, Mercs, Beemers and a Rolls-Royce, and this was just as comfy, if not more comfy. Smooth, refined and fast. But you have got to watch yourself...
Travelling down the M1 one day, my wife driving, she was flashing the driver in front of her in the fast-lane to move over. He eventually moved over, and this was when I pointed out the speedo to her. She felt the car was doing about 75-80, but was in fact well into three figures. She then went red and looked embarrassed. I kid you not, this car makes the same noise at 100 as it does at 20. But that's just for starters.
The car had a 2.9 litre, Cosworth V6, which I was told develops "a lot" brake horsepower. Off the line it's not that great, hot-hatch quick 0-60, due to the auto box and the car's sheer girth. But, if the car is moving at more than 10mph, and you floor the throttle, the quiet hum from the front of the car turns into a beastly roar. The back end squats a bit, the traction control warning light blinks at you, and then the speedo needle shoots round VERY quickly. And this is without using the "Sport" mode on the gearbox. We used that mode once, joining a dual-carriageway, and the car went from 40 to 100 in the blink of an eye. Overtaking was just hilarious, going past two or three cars at a time with no bother. The mid-range punch was just great, and for the brief period I had the car, kickdown was my favorite game in the whole world.
I think the most surprising thing about the car was the way that it handled. It had fat 8 inch tyres on 16 inch alloys, so lots of grip, combined with the Limited Slip Diff at the back. But the self levelling suspension kept the car completely flat in the bends, just like the air-suspension on the Jag XJR. The car swept around bends nicely. Unfortunately, the traction control failed on the car while it was raining. My wife was driving, and coming from the Front Wheel Drive Crew, was unaware of the correct procedure for tail happiness. The car spun round and hit the kerb sideways, bending the rear axle and somehow destroying the gearbox. After the accident, the car wouldn't go past 10mph and the gears kept slipping out.
Anyway, the car. A lot of people feel that the Scorpio is ugly. I have to disagree now. At first, I didn't much care for the styling, but it grew on me. To be in, it is very pleasant, almost limo-like. The stereo was awesome, the seats comfy and the steering fluffy. The headlights were brilliant, and the auto climate control was great, especially being that the driver and passenger could have different temperature settings. Journeys were just a pleasant experience in this car. To steal a line from Jeremy Clarkson, it's like a big velvet glove that pick you up from where you are, and gently puts you down at your destination a short time later.
One driving characteristic that I must point out though, which was quite worrying. Due to the car's size, and the fact that ground clearance is surprisingly low, the car would sometimes scrape over high speed bumps or when pulling onto downward sloping driveways. It made some nasty noises.
Costs were negotiable. 20-25 mpg was the norm round town if you're gentle, dropping to 15-19 if you're not, 30-35 on the motorway (these figures from the cars computer). The tank is big, and I filled it up once from the fuel warning light being on with Optimax, which at the time was 97.9p. It cost me £67.00, and lasted 350 miles. Ouch! Tyres weren't that bad, but a new windscreen did sting me for £200 as I didn't have screen cover. I was 21 with 0 NCB when I had this car, and even though the size of the car was huge, the engine was huge and it was a fast car with a group 16 rating, I got fully comp cover for £620 with no extras (like windscreen cover...), so I was able to tell all my mates that I was 21 and drove a "Cossie" for less than £650 a year! Fun times.
This is a great family car, and the boot is huge. It once swallowed £150 worth of shopping from Asda, my Nan's wheelchair and cushions, and a load of junk that had collected in there as junk collects in car boots, with room to spare. Car boot sales were as easy as pie, and no-one ever complained about having to sit in the back.
The detailing on the car was great. The leather on the dash and door cards matched the leather on the Recaros; the interior door handles were chromed metal and cold to the touch, not shiny plastic; the tint on the windows at the back was darker than that on the front; and the armrest was big enough for two arms. The car really is a five seater, and all five people will have space and be comfy.
These cars can now be picked up for a song. I recently looked at a 1998 facelift Ultima with FFSH, 65,000 miles in fantastic condition (i.e NO RUST), taxed and tested with all of the options and all paperwork and manuals in Aubergine for £4,000. I was very tempted. It is a car I can recommend all the way. Find a good one, and look past the unusual styling. But make sure that you get one with the Cosworth engine, as the other motors are a bit weedy for the size of car (the Cosworth cars are listed as 2.9 24v cars, the 12v 2.9 develops far less bhp and isn't as refined). This car is every bit the luxury car that you'll get from any of the big prestige brands, but it'll only cost you Ford money.
If it hadn't had been crashed, and the repair bill wasn't better than a grand, I would have kept it, but I sold it for what I paid for it to a Ford technician. It has been missed.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 10th July, 2006