See also: Mercury Cougar
The Ford Cougar was a coupé sold in the European market between 1998 and 2002, and sold in Canada and the United States from 1999 to 2002 as the Mercury Cougar. The car was originally intended to be the third generation Probe, but after a rationalisation of the three coupés available in the United States, the Probe name was dropped in favour of the Cougar.
Example of a sports coupe / liftback.
The Cougar was Ford's second attempt to reintroduce a sports coupé in Europe, in the same vein as the successful but long-absent Capri – the first attempt having been the Mazda MX-6-based Probe. Just as the Capri had been based on the Cortina, the Cougar was based on the large family car available at the time, the Mondeo.
It premiered in December 1998 to mixed reviews, partly due to the then new and controversial New Edge styling, a crisp style which was subsequently applied to most of the Ford range. Unlike its famous forebearer, the Capri, Cougar sales were never brisk, despite good reports of the model as a "driver's car".
Like its (indirect) predecessor, the Ford Probe, the 1998 Cougar was sold and built in the United States. Cars destined to be sold in Europe and the United Kingdom were finished in Ford's Köln plant in Germany, where the cars had European specification lighting installed, Ford badges applied (and in the case of United Kingdom and Australian cars, converted to RHD); in the United States, it had different branding, in this case being branded as the Mercury Cougar, while in Europe and Australia, it was known as the Ford Cougar.
In the United Kingdom, Ford unveiled the car in July 1998, at the British Grand Prix, Silverstone. The television advertisements featured the silver model driven by Dennis Hopper due to his appearance in the film Easy Rider. At the same time, Steppenwolf's hit from 1968, "Born To Be Wild" played, as this was featured in the film and the same scene the advertisement recreated.
The Cougar was retired from the European market in August 2002. After the first two years of production, only 12,000 units reportedly had been sold in the United Kingdom. Released in Australia in October 1999, the Cougar only came with the optional 2.5-litre 24-valve Duratec V6 and continued through until March 2004.
The Cougar came equipped with the 2.0-litre 16-valve 2.0 L Zetec or 2.5 litre, 24 valve Duratec V6 engines with two specification levels, largely equivalent to a Mondeo Ghia (standard) and Ghia X (simply X). Manual and automatic transmissions were available. All variants came with 16 inch alloy wheels as standard.
The 2.0 litre version had 130 PS (96 kW; 128 hp) as standard, while the 2.5 was rated at 170 PS (125 kW; 168 hp).
The car has been described by critics as "[putting] its power down effectively and [tackling] twisty roads with confidence." The standard wheels had 215 mm-width tyres which greatly contributed to its cornering abilities.
An "X pack" was available on the larger engine; this included leather upholstered and heated front seats, with six way electric adjustment for the driver's seat, and a Ford RDS6000 six speaker radio with six CD autochanger.
Available at an extra cost and not included in the "X pack" were heated windscreen, electric tilt, slide sunroof, and metallic paint.
The standard safety kit includes driver, passenger, and side airbags, plus ABS brakes and seat belts that reduce chest injuries. The Cougar is well protected against theft and break in, due to an engine immobiliser, remote control central and double locking systems, and an alarm.