Like its (indirect) predecessor, the Ford Probe, the 1998 Cougar was sold and built in the United States, Although cars destined to be sold in Europe and the UK were finished in Ford's Koln plant in Germany where the cars had european spec lighting installed, Ford badges applied and in the case of UK cars, converted to Right Hand Drive, in the US it had different branding; in this case being branded as the Mercury Cougar while in Europe it was known as the Ford Cougar.
In the United Kingdom, Ford unveiled the car at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 1998.
The television advertisements featured the silver model driven by Dennis Hopper.
The Cougar came equipped with the 2.0 litre (16v) Zetec and 2.5 litre (24v) 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 for the 2.5 model. All variants came with 16" alloy wheels as standard.
The 2.0 litre version had 130PS (96kW; 128hp) as standard, while the 2.5 was rated at 170PS (125kW; 168hp) .
The car has been described by critics as "[putting] its power down effectively and [tackling] twisty roads with confidence." The standard wheels had had 215 mm width tyres which greatly contributed towards its cornering abilities.
An "X pack" was available on the larger engine, this included leather upholstered & heated front seats with 6 way electric adjustment for the drivers seat and a Ford RDS6000 6-Speaker CD Radio with 6-CD autochanger.
Available at an extra cost and not included in the "X pack" were heated windscreen, electric tilt and slide sunroof and metallic paint.
Safety and security
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, as well as an alarm.