Model Page

Ford Sierra XR4x4

Production Run:

2.8i - 23,450

2.9i - u/k

Production Date:

2.8i - 1985 - 1989

2.9i - 1989 - 1993


Ford Cologne 2.8i V6

Ford Cologne 2.9i V6


Ghenk (Belgium)


2.8i - 8.4 Secs

2.9i - 8.2 Secs

Max Speed:

2.8i - 132 Mph

2.9i - 129 Mph

The XR4i had not been as successful as anticipated and sales lagged behind the XR3i and XR2i. The understated XR4x4 was released to address the situation and increase market share for Ford’s flagship Sierra. Fitted with a permanent four wheel drive system mated to a 2.8 Cologne V6 engine and later a 2.9 V6 the car had admirable performance and handling.

Ford had made several prototypes running a 4x4 drive-train in the past, but it was not until the early eighties that management was convinced that a 4x4 mass production vehicle should be built. Audi had produced the successful Quattro and Subaru’s had experienced rising sales with their range of four wheel drive vehicles, Ford wanted and needed to get in on the act.



Development time was substantially reduced thanks to a scheme that Ford had previously commissioned, the Fergusson Formula Development (FFD) project was a design task setup to design a 4x4 concept on the Sierra. The car was based on the 3 door Sierra body shell and was fitted with a 2.8i Cologne V6 engine, the concept car was due to be shown at the launch of the XR4i in 1983 but as the idea for volume manufacturing of the 4x4 took shape Ford decided to hold back as not to give the game away.

Ford’s Special Vehicle Engineering (SVE) Department were given the task of making the Sierra FFD concept car ready for production having previously launched the successful Capri 2.8 Injection. Unlike the prototype the car utilised a five door hatchback shell that was based on the 2.0S as market researched had shown customers would prefer the practicality of the five door shell.

Sierra XR4x4

Sierra XR4x4

Although the concept car was functioning there were a number of improvements that had to be made to the car. The transmission tunnel was considered to intrude too much into the interior cabin, the transfer box was too long so access for servicing was restricted and the suspension and steering setup was compromised due to a lack of space. The issue with the Transfer box was solved by moving the speedometer drive pickup from the box thus making it possible to shorten the box’s length by around 100mm and reducing the width of the unit. This small modification removed at an instant the problem with the drive train intruding into the cabin. The relocation of a number of components allowed the front anti-roll bar to be moved behind the wheels to optimise handling, the overall weight of the vehicle was reduced through the use of alloys wherever possible one such application being the installation of an all aluminium cross member that was both stronger and lighter than the original.

Drive to the rear wheels was direct, drive to the front wheels passed through a viscous coupling that acted as a limited slip differential. This was fed via a chain to a driveshaft running alongside the engine that connected to the front axle differential unit that was fitted to the side of the cast aluminium sump. The torque split was 36 front and 64 rear.

The suspension components were purpose built for the XR4x4 application, a traditional setup was employed with independent front suspension using MacPherson struts, coil springs, telescopic dampers and an anti-roll bar. The rear suspension consisted of independent semi trailing arm, coil springs, telescopic dampers and an anti-roll bar. The rear anti roll bar was taken from the XR4i but the thickness of the unit was increased to 14mm, up from 10mm. Steering was a conventional rack and pinion setup with power assistance, lock to lock took 2.8 turns.

2.9 Cologne V6

2.9 Cologne V6

To provide adequate braking 259mm ventilated discs brakes were fitted to the front and 251mm solid discs to the rear of the car with servo assistance. Rotors were fitted to the front and rear, this was achieved relatively easily by taking the braking technology from the Scorpio that was under development. Although an anti-lock braking system was not fitted to cars produced in the first few months this was later made available.

Between 1985 and 1989 the Sierra XR4x4 was equipped with the 2,792cc Cologne overhead valve 60 degree V6 fitted with the Bosch K Jetronic Fuel injection system. As with the XR4i the power output was 150bhp @ 5,700 rpm and 162 lb/ft @ 4,300 rpm, again 10 bhp down on the unit fitted to the equivalent Capri. The 2.8I engine was mated to the five speed gearbox taken from the Granada. Post January 1989 the XR4x4 was fitted with the new 2.9 litre V6 Cologne engine, with a 2,933cc engine the bore and stroke was 93mm x 72mm, compression was increased from 9.2:1 to 9.5:1. The engine was fitted with Bosch L Jetronic breaker-less electronic ignition and multi point fuel injection. Unlike the 2.8, the 2.9 had non siamesed cylinder head porting, a more efficient lubrication system and a stiffer cylinder block casting. With the new engine came a new five speed gearbox (Type MT75, 2.8i Gearbox Type 9), this was also strengthened to tolerate the higher torque output of the engine. Ford claimed that this gearbox had lower frictional losses and a reduced gearshift travel.

On the road the 2.9 litre unit is more flexible generating more torque lower down the rev range, speeds up to 80 Mph the 2.9 is faster than the 2.8 unit. However, at high speeds (80 Mph) and above the 2.8 unit is faster due to the power characteristics of the unit.

The car was only available as a five door hatchback, but left hand drive cars for the European market were made available in a three door version. The XR4x4 was fitted with 5.5” wide, 14” seven spoke alloy wheels shod with 195/60HR tyres. The Biplane rear spoiler from the XR4i was dropped and replaced with a neat notch topping foil, a two colour stripe was added along the waistline of the car and discreet 4x4 badges were added to the tailgate and side of the car.

The car came well equipped for the time with the same interior as the Ghia albeit with seats that provided better side support. Standard fit items included electronic power windows, electric mirrors, central locking, heated windscreens, six speaker radio cassette, sunroof and variable speed intermittent wipers. The dashboard included a graphic display that warned of bulb failures, doors open, brake pads worn or icy roads. Air conditioning and an alarm system were offered as optional extra’s, at release in 1985 the car was priced at £11,500.

A number of changes were made after January 1989, with the addition of the installation of the new engine the car was equipped with remodelled bumpers, larger windows and a smoked rear lamp cluster. The car was kept in production up until 1993 when the Sierra range was discontinued and replaced by the new Mondeo.

The Facts


Ford V6 ‘Cologne’, vee formation @ 60 degrees.






Compression Ratio:

2.8i - 9.2:1

2.9i - 9.5:1

Fuel System:

2.8i - Bosch K Jetronic Fuel Injection

2.9i - Bosch L Jetronic Fuel Injection

Maximum Power:

2.8i - 150bhp @ 5,700 rpm.

2.9i - 150 bhp @ 5,700 rpm

Maximum Torque:

2.8i - 162 b/ft @ 4,300 rpm

2.9i - 171 lb/ft @ 3,000 rpm


Manual 5 speed.

Top Gear:

22.4 Mph per 1000 rpm.


Servo Assisted ventilated front discs / solid rear discs

Kerb Weight:

1210 Kg

Max Speed:

2.8i - 132 Mph

2.9i - 129 Mph


2.8i - 8.4 Secs

2.9i - 8.2 Secs