Generations Timeline, Specs and Pictures
After it failed to win customers with the Probe, Ford tried again in 1998 with the Cougar, but the nameplate was not enough to convince customers.
Mercury used the Cougar nameplate since 1967 for its most successful vehicle ever made which was a longer and more luxurious Ford Mustang. It provided both performance and comfort. The eighth-generation was introduced in 1998 and was the first to offer a front-wheel-drive layout. The European version of the Cougar was sold with the Ford badge on it. Both vehicles were based on the same platform with the first generation of the Ford Mondeo/Contour – Mercury Mystique.
Ford Cougar was designed and launched in the New-edge trend and combined long, curved lines with sharp angles. The Cougar was just like that, with its sharp headlights and elliptic grille on the lower side of the bumper. The ascending beltline and the curved greenhouse formed another ellipsoid shape from its sides, with triangular rear windows. At the back, the taillights covered the corners with a similar shape.
The interior was more conservative, like if the designers didn’t have time to develop something new. Even its four-door sibling, the Mondeo, featured a more advanced dashboard. The Cougar was focused on its sporty look, with a smaller instrument cluster a sloped center stack. The sporty coupe featured bolstered front seats and a bench in the back with very limited legroom.
Ford installed a choice of two engines for the Cougar. The base version featured carried-over engines from the Mondeo: an inline-four, and a V6. Unfortunately, the inline-four was too weak to compete against the Japanese coupes, and the V6 was too thirsty and still low on performance.