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By Jim Flammang
December 19, 2003
Vehicle Overview Despite its relatively mild sales totals, Mercury’s high-performance full-size sedan rolls into another model year with several technical enhancements. Mercury claims that the Marauder has improved shift response from the new, heavy-duty, four-speed-automatic transmission. Dual knock sensors in the 4.6-liter V-8 engine promise better response at low engine speeds. Traction control and an Audiophile entertainment system are now standard.
Based on the full-size rear-wheel-drive Mercury Grand Marquis sedan, the Marauder takes its name from a memorable high-performance model of the 1960s. Mercury has billed the car as its “rebel with a cause,” which subtly suggests the black 1949 Mercury that appeared in the famed James Dean movie, “Rebel Without a Cause.” Both the Marauder and Grand Marquis are produced in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada.
Exterior All early Marauder models were finished in glossy black throughout, right down to their dark-tinted headlight and taillight bezels. They looked the part of a forbidding machine. Two additional body colors are available for 2004: Dark Toreador Red and Silver Birch.
The Marauder measures 212 inches long overall and rides a 114.7-inch wheelbase — those dimensions are identical to the Grand Marquis’ measurements, but the Marauder is 2 inches taller. Stainless-steel 3.5-inch exhaust tips bring up the rear, and the Marauder name is embossed on the back bumper.
Five-spoke forged-aluminum wheels with 18-inch performance tires display a Mercury logo. Cibi� fog lamps are integrated into the front fascia. The front springs in the performance-tuned suspension were adapted from those on Ford’s police car. Rear air springs hail from the Lincoln Town Car.
Interior Even though the Grand Marquis can seat six people, the Marauder is a five-passenger automobile with a two-tone interior. White-faced gauges include a 7,000-rpm tachometer and a 140-mph speedometer. Auto Meter oil-pressure and voltage gauges sit ahead of the leather-wrapped floor-mounted gearshift lever.
Leather upholstery uses classic French seam stitching. The seats have extra padding for improved thigh, lumbar and shoulder support. A modern version of the Mercury god’s head is embossed on the front seatbacks. An Audiophile stereo with cassette and CD players is standard. A trunk-mounted six-CD changer, heated seats and a trunk organizer are optional.
Under the Hood The Marauder’s 4.6-liter V-8 engine develops 302 horsepower and 318 pounds-feet of torque. Adapted from the unit in Ford’s police car, the four-speed-automatic transmission drives a 3.55-to-1 rear axle with a limited-slip differential. Premium fuel is required.
Safety Side-impact airbags and all-disc antilock brakes that feature electronic brake-force distribution and panic assist are standard. Child-safety seat tether anchors are installed.
Driving Impressions The Marauder is enjoyable on the road and delivers a more satisfying ride than many high-performance machines. The car’s taut suspension is evident, and the big sedan deals effectively with pavement imperfections while maintaining laudable control. Acceleration is strong, but it doesn’t quite rank as exuberant partly because the muscular V-8 is pushing considerable weight. The automatic transmission reacts well and downshifts without notable annoyances.
Front and rear occupants have plenty of space, which is one of the bonuses of a full-size performance sedan. Even though the V-8’s exhaust noise is noticeable during acceleration, the sound is rather subdued while cruising.