DEARBORN, MI — Mercury's starting its resurgence on the right note — a husky tone emanating from '03 Marauder's 3.5-in. (8.89-cm) stainless steel Megs tips.

Sung with authority, it retains a hint of the rebelliousness that courses — albeit faintly — through the veins of its target demographic.

Like those would-be buyers — men 45 to 55 — Marauder may look suitably fit and trim to turn heads. But in reality, it's a bit overweight and not as quick as you remember.

The first of six all-new products in a brand pipeline that runs through mid-decade, Marauder's a refreshing departure from Grand Marquis, its Panther platform-mate. It appeals to those who covet a fullsize sedan without conceding: a) performance; b) styling; c) reputation; d) all of the above.

With its 18-in. wheels and raked profile, this is definitely not your father's Grand Marquis. Unless your father is Jack Roush.

The racing legend's tuning house helps Marauder find that distinctive exhaust note, not to mention 302 hp at 5,750 rpm and 310 lb.-ft. (420 Nm) of torque. The car's 4.6L 32-valve engine provides plenty of pull to test its sturdy suspension and superior steering, but it lags during launch.

Mercury might do well to follow the instincts that served it so well when it dropped a supercharged V-8 into the Marauder Convertible concept. It makes 335 hp at 5,250 rpm and 355 lb.-ft. (481 Nm) of torque “to give it the performance feel of a 1960s ‘big block’ V-8 off the line,” Mercury insiders say.

Stickering at $34,495 and at volumes under 20,000, Mercury will move these machines. Although the car doesn't play well to women, one insider notes, what wife could argue with five seating positions and a trunk the size of Catalina Island?

These amenities — and a free leather jacket that comes with every purchase — should be music to any aging hot-rodder's ears.