The Ford had a number of cars during the 1960s, but the Corsair stood out at the time with its unique styling. It made quite an impact in terms of performance as well, and it struck a chord among many people when it was launched. The Corsair nameplate, however, was used once again in the 1980s and 1990s, with a rebadged Nissan Pintara. The Pintara was actually the first front-wheel drive family sedan offered by the Japanese carmaker, and it succeeded the 4-cylinder, rear wheel-drive rebadged Nissan Skyline in 1989. However, it had a short life after Nissan shut down domestic production of the car in 1992 and focused on its imports only.
The Ford Corsair was offered in two body styles: a five-door hatchback and a four-door sedan. It had two trim levels: the base GL and top-end Ghia. These two models got a 2.0L and 2.4L engine. The Corsair was introduced as a replacement for the Ford Telestar, which was also a rebadged Japanese car, the Mazda 626. Both models were together for some time when the Corsair was launched, with the Telstar restricted only to the performance-enhanced TX5 hatchback.
With the closing of Nissan’s production plan in 1992, the Ford Corsair would also be discontinued and the Telstar would come back as the main model for the American carmaker in the medium-size family sedan segment. It would be 3 years until the Corsair was replaced by the Ford Mondeo.
The Ford Corsair was available with 2 engine options. The GL model got a 2.0L, 4-cylinder engine while the Ghia got a 2.4L engine. The 2.0L engine had a multi-point fuel injection system and delivered 83kW of power and 168Nm of torque. It came with a 5-speed manual gearbox as standard and a 4-speed automatic transmission. The automatic shift tended to be a little less refined than the smooth manual gearbox. The shifts in gear were delayed a bit every now and then.
Both the 2.0L and 2.4L engines were quite noisy, although the 2.4L engine was less so. It did not help that the cabin had poor noise insulation, allowing in a fair bit of road and wind noise as well. However, the engine noise only got problematic when it was pushed hard for overtaking or squeezing out the maximum torque. For this reason, the ride got a little rough at high speeds but was otherwise comfortable when cruising. Handling was one of the best things of the Ford Corsair; the car felt very surefooted, even when it was cornered hard.
The front seats were firm but very supportive, with the bolsters positioned at just the right places. However, they were placed a little lower than the norm for a family sedan. The rear bench was also spacious enough to make short rides comfortable, but its seating was actually higher than the front. The boot size was generous.
In terms of performance, the 5-speed manual is better suited for more enthusiastic drivers because of its quick response. It makes the car a lot more fun to drive. The 4-speed automatic, on the other hand, tends to shift early and late in different road conditions. It is great for relaxed drives, but tends to ruin the mood when the car is poked hard. The auto transmission has economy and power modes that can be selected from the centre console of the car, and the shift level has a button for the overdrive fourth gear.
The suspension is not that great, with lack of cushioning on rough roads and some understeer and body roll when the car turns. The brakes, on the other hand, perform admirably and are very effective when used hard in panic stops. The steering is the standard rack and pinion type with power assist.
The Ford Corsair had a good interior that combined ergonomic and well-positioned controls and instrument gauges with excellent seating comfort. The rear seats were spacious enough for 3 adults with just enough legroom and comfort to spare, but shoulder room was limited. However, the rear seats were plenty spacious for 2 passengers.
The standard equipment available in the car includes air-conditioning, central locking, windows, power mirrors, and alloy wheels. Optional luxury features that were present in the Ghia include climate control, cruise control, and fog lights.
The Ford Corsair was a fairly competent package back in its day, and it is still quite a car despite its age. The noisy engine was also powerful, and it delivered a great fuel economy. The car had good interior quality. The family sedan market was quite crowded locally, with the Ford Corsair competing with the likes of other Japanese cars like the Mitsubishi Magna. The Magna had an inline, 2.4L, 4-cylinder engine that delivered 84kW of power and 198Nm of torque. It was equal to the Ford Corsair in terms of power and offered similar handling characteristics, but it lacked the luxury features. For that, Mitsubishi had its more upmarket Verada.