Ford will replace the ageing Granada with the radical and controversial Scorpio next January, writes Mark Catterall. Styled by Ford's in-house German studio, the new car's extraordinary new American-style headlights, grille and rear are unlike anything the European motor industry has seen.

The car will make its first public appearance at next month's Paris Motor Show, despite nagging doubts among some senior Ford personnel over its design. The car will be on show at the Birmingham NEC later in the autumn.

The executive sector in which it competes is not known for its innovative styling. Most of the Scorpio's challengers, such as the Vauxhall Omega, Rover 800 and Renault Safrane, are conservative and it is in this company that the current Granada has built up a faithful following. But one Ford insider said the company was determined to make sure the Granada's successor made an impression.

The Scorpio is likely to cost from pounds 16,000 to about pounds 29,000. Its engines will include 2.0-litre and 2.9-litre petrol units, and a 2.5-litre turbo diesel. Inside, the cabin is luxurious and curvaceous, incorporating many of the design themes found in the smaller Mondeo.

Back at the start of the 1980s, Ford's new Sierra attracted widespread controversy for its 'revolutionary jelly-mould' shape, yet that car went on to become a UK best-seller. Time will tell if the Scorpio repeats that success.

(Photograph omitted)

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