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GRAN TURISMO CAR REVIEWS

1999 Mercury Cougar

99mercury_cougar.jpg

 
Year: 1998-2000
Class: Sport Compact
Type: 2+2 coupe
 
Country of Origin: USA ```````````````````` Host: GT2
 
Price: $18,020
 
Length: 185" // Width: 69.6" // Height: 52"
Wheelbase: 106.4"
Track: ?
Overhang: @ 6' 6"
Ground Clearance: 6.1"
Weight: 3,066 lbs.
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Layout: Front Engine / Front Drive
Tires: P215/50R-16
Brakes: disc / drum
F. Suspension: MacPherson struts, coils, shox, anti-roll bar
R. Suspension: Quadralink, coils, shox, anti-roll bar
 
Engine: 2.5 liter DOHC V6
Tested HP: 175 @ 7,000 rpm
Tstd. Tque:
162 @ 4,500 rpm
 
Lbs. per HP: 17.52
HP per liter: 70.0
Credit per HP: $102.97
 
Valves per Cyl: 4
Compression: ?
Bore x Stroke: ?
Aspiration: normal
Fuel System: sequential multi-port injection
 
Redline: 6,500 // Rev Limit: 7,000
 
0-60 mph: 8.5 seconds
0-100mph: 23.1 seconds
 
400 M: 16.659 @ 85 mph
1 KM:
29.926 @ 111 mph
 
Test Track: 1:57.791
 
Top Speed at RPM Limit
1st: 37 mph
2nd: 61 mph
3rd: 89 mph
4th: 118 mph
5th: 143.85 @ 6,600 rpms

 

------------------------EXTERIOR---------------------
 
Nowadays, the word "cougar" has several meanings. Not only is it a large cat, but this word can also be used to describe an older woman who likes younger men. But none of this has much to do with the car I'm about to review.  

Originally introduced in 1967, the Mercury Cougar has been thru a slew of changes--too many to mention, though I'll give a brief history.


The Cougar was originally built as a sister of the Ford Mustang, but was a bit more on the luxurious side. It was larger, with 3" of extra wheelbase, an effort to accomodate its passengers with greater comfort. Starting in 1969, the Cougar began growing in size...literally gaining weight and/or inches every model year. By 1971 (with sales declining, insurance rates going up, etc.) the performance aspect of the car was almost gone.

By the gas crunch of 1973, the Cougar had become a fat, slovenly, gas-hungry cat, overweight and slow. Even though Ford's famous 351 cubic inch engine was still being offered, government regulations officially had them detuned to wimp status.
 
Between 1973 and 1983, the Cougar went thru some changes, but was basically a downsized LTD instead of a sister to the Mustang. 1978 (oddly enough) was the Cougar's best year, with close to a quarter million vehicles sold, but from here the car suffered poorer sales once again.
 
In 1983, the Cougar saw a revival and got a huge makeover. Now it was produced to complement Ford's Thunderbird, which got a facelift and was starting to enter NASCAR races. New Cougars featured aerodynamic styling for the first time, and from here till the late '90s, they kept this appearance with some minor changes here and there.
 
In 1999, the Cougar was reborn yet again. This time the car derived its looks from a show/concept version, making its appearace fresh. It was not merely a sister to one of Ford's models. For the first time, it featured front-wheel drive, and also lost some weight. In GT2, it saunters in at 3,066 pounds, which is still on the heavy side for a front-drive, but with full weight reductions things are down to 2,727, which isn't bad once you consider that the engine can be modified up to a whopping 527hp!
 
The new Mercury Cougar is obviously geared towards performance again, just like it was 32 years ago. The car has sharp looks, and can be delivered in 10 different colors, but can anyone tell me why the 2000 Mercury Cougar 2.5i 24v costs almost $24,000 more than the '99 model, even though it comes in less colors (only 7) and doesn't feature anything different performance-wise at all? Why not put a mid-'80s Cougar in the game instead just for the sake of variety?

Well, I guess it has something to do with realism: whenever the new model year comes out, the old cars get reduced in price so the dealer can move them off the lot. But still, the $24,000 difference truely is extreme and unrealistic.
 
 

-------------------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN----------------
 
Original Cougars always had V8 engines in the '60s.  Back in the day, gas was cheap; there wasn't much reason not to get a V8. Mercury wanted to offer only the best.
 
Modern Cougars feature a couple engines, but none is bigger than the 2.5 liter DOHC V6 found in the model I'm reviewing. Since this is a front-drive car, we won't expect anything massive under the hood; but through the magic of turbo-charging, the car can accept 3 different tuning set-ups that will boost power up to a phenomenol 527 hp. *Gulp!*
 
The standard, unmodified engine only rates at 167hp @ 6,250 rpms, with a measly 162 ft.-lbs. of torque at 4,250. Both of these numbers are slightly below the test track dynamometer numbers, but not by much. Gearing is fairly balanced, and you'll find that this FWD car is a welcome alternative to try if you've been driving a Civic or some other FWD car, wondering what it would be like to have REAL power under the hood.
 
No matter which car you buy (the '99 model or the '00), the Cougar's engine has a growl to it that's lacking in the Mustang GT from GT2. At times, the Mercury Cougar actually sounds like a real cougar!
 

------------------CHASSIS / DRIVETRAIN----------------
 
I'm not sure why Ford is so adamant about calling their suspension a 'Quadralink', instead of 'multilink' (like there's any difference), but it's Ford's patented design, and it holds the road excellently. My guess is that the rear of this car (where the quad suspenion is located...MacPherson Struts are up front) is also well-balanced as far as weight distribution is concerned.
 
The Cougar doesn't seem very nose-heavy, even though it's got front-wheel drive. Understeer happens, but overall it is controllable. The rear of the car will only oversteer if you really really force it; otherwise, it'll hold the road like glue. I'm sure the Cougar gets more unbalanced as power gets higher and higher, but it is perfect for low and mid-range engine modifications. Any suspension is recommended for the Cougar. All that matters is whether or not you can afford the one you're looking for.
 

-------------------------------PROS-------------------
 
1). Fresh new style gives the '99 Cougar (4th gen) quite the facelift, which it sorely needed after 16 odd years).
 
2). Amazingly acrobatic handling for a front-drive. The back end of the car will rarely oversteer unless you've got the power up really high and force slides.
 
3). Engine mods take the power higher than what can typically be attained in a FWD, and are relatively inexpensive.
 
4). Good transmission & brakes.
 
5). '99 Cougar offered at a fair price.
 
6). GRRRR!!!!
 
 
-------------------------CONS-------------------------
 
1). 2000 Cougar 2.5i ridiculously overpriced when compard to the car from just a year earlier, and why??? Did it really not hold its value after just a year of sitting in the lot? Could be.
 
2). Why didn't GT2 designers axe the 2.5i and include an '84 'aero Cougar' for the sake of variety?
 
3). Poor initial power and average acceleration.
 
4). Maxed-out engine will create problems with otherwise excellent handling, and will burn the front tires out during an endurance race.
 
5). Some understeer. Not the worst ever, but this is still a Con.
 
6). One of the many cars of GT2 that looks like a rolling blob. Poorly-defined graphics don't this one apart far enough from all the other rolling blobs found in this game.

 
Published: May 18, 2004
 

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