Engineering-wise, the Scorpio was heavily based on the Sierra, sitting on a stretched version of its floorpan, and using a similar styling philosophy set by both the Sierra and the third generation Escort. Under the bonnet were well-proven engines, starting with the venerable Pinto engine unit in 1.8L and 2.0L capacities, as well as the V6 Cologne engine in 2.4L, 2.8L, and later 2.9L displacements. By 1989, both the Pinto engines had been dropped, with an 8-valve DOHC engine replacing the 2.0L model.
The Scorpio was intended to maintain Ford's position in Europe as the principal alternative to a Mercedes or BMW for those looking to own an executive car. To this end Ford built on the already extensive specification available on the outgoing MkII Granada (which for the period, was available with some very special equipment such as leather heated electrically adjustable seats, air conditioning, electric sunroof, trip computer etc) by adding some very fresh technology for the mass market. Improvements available included; heated windscreen, Cruise Control and all wheel drive which all made their first appearance on a European Ford. The car was very comfortable (slightly let down by seats without good back support) and had excellent rear legroom, but surprisingly little lateral headroom. The biggest advance of the Scorpio was that it was the first mass-market European car to have anti-lock braking system standard across the whole range.