1 Oct 1999
By CHRIS HARRIS
FORD never really found a way to successfully replace its classic 1970s Capri coupe, and the Cougar – though a worthy effort – was no exception.
Like all its predecessors, the Cougar was spun off an existing Ford family car. In this case it was the first-generation Mondeo, built from 1993 to 2000.
It was a good starting point too, since the front-wheel drive Mondeo was a dynamic yardstick throughout its lifetime.
But the Cougar was built in North America, and was styled inside and out to appeal to Americans.
And in the face of wild competition like the 1999 Honda Integra Type S or the excellent last Toyota Celica, the Ford fell short.
For starters it was set-up as a fine-handling grand tourer, but was laden with lots of weight-adding gear. And so the smooth and willing but not very punchy 125kW/220Nm 2.5-litre DOHC 24-valve V6 had its work cut out for it.
Yet equipment levels were high – and included anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, traction control, dual front and front-side airbags, power steering, climate control air-conditioning, power windows, remote central locking, alloy wheels and sports seats.
Sales never took off, despite good reviews, as the old Celica market was instead going for compact 4WD wagons.