Well I am the guy who wrote an earlier review on a Cougar 24v X automatic, whereby the automatic gear box suffered a complete failure at a little over 6,200 miles. I had heard that the manual version of the Cougar V6 is a much better drivers car. I saw an advert in early March 2001 that a large Ford dealer in Poole, Dorset, UK was offering substantial discounts on new Cougar manuals with a sunroof, I gave them a ring.
The cost to change was reasonable considering I had only had my first Cougar for just over 11 months, so I went ahead and purchased an identical silver Cougar manual. When I went to collect my new car, I literally parked my automatic Cougar alongside the new one, swopped all my gear from one car to the other and drove off. However on my trip back home, on the first stretch of dual carriageway I went to select fifth gear and it jumped out! I tried again and the same thing happened. I telphoned the dealership and returned with the car. The salesman and a mechanic were waiting for me back at the dealership. The mechanic drove the car and on his return, grim faced, stated that my new Cougar would need a new gearbox!
Now they say lightning can't strike twice in the same place!!
I rejected the new car and instructed the salesman to return my Cougar automatic, they refunded my credit card, I put my belongings back into it and drove home.
Now what is worrying here for all new car buyers, is that a dealer can de-register a new car in the UK. Even though I would receive the log book for the car I had just rejected, gone to drive it home and the vehicle subsequently had a new gearbox fitted, it could have been sold on to some unsuspecting person as a brand new car! I believe that is fundamentally wrong and I would be furious if I bought a car with a history such as the one I had rejected.
In the end I did take the car as after some negotiation with Ford Customer Assistance in Glasgow, a further substantial discount was given to me. An offer I couldn't refuse!
I am happy to report that nothing else has gone wrong with the car.
My new Kitty like the previous one has stunning roadholding, sharp turn-in and altogether feels very agile for a car of its size. The ride is supple, but larger road imperfections do unsettle the car. There is not much travel in the suspension, as UK models have the Sports suspension group as standard. In fact the chassis is so rigid, a back wheel lifts from the surface as I back off of my driveway.
The steering is quite heavily weighted but highly geared, so you have to be careful initially not to put too much steering input into the wheel, otherwise you just end up taking large 'bites' out of a sweeping curve.
The engine is so quiet and smooth, that it is easy to stall the engine until you get used to it. Unlike some erroneous reports about the engine clinging to revs after gearchanges, mine does not seem to do this. However the engine does not have a large flywheel as reported by some owners, the clinging of the revs was due to the emission control system. Perhaps mine being a later car has been modified.
Having owned both the automatic and now a manual version of the Cougar V6, the difference in the performance is quite staggering. The manual is so much faster and is indecently quick. The auto gearbox not only saps the engine of a large amount of power, you sometimes would find yourself overtaking and the thing won't kick down.
The manual could do with a six speed gearbox as fifth is hardly an overdrive. In fact I often find myself changing gears straight from second to fourth or third to fifth. The quality of the gearchange is very good.
Seat comfort with the leather trimmed models is excellent. Do not buy a cloth trimmed version as the seats are like sitting on four pine logs. Plus you get all the bits with the X pack.
Fuel economy on the first tankful was 27.8mpg, not bad for a V6 during the running in period. The automatic Cougar was good on fuel for its engine size, I used to average between 24 to 28 mpg, the manual I expect to be at least 20% better.
The paintwork and all round finish is excellent and considering the car is designed to survive Chicago winters, I expect all Cougars to stay in good shape for a very long time. Take a look at old Probes for instance, no rust on them.
If you already own a Kitty V6, a friend of mine in the US who has got one says to fit a set of Splitfire plugs and a K&N Filter for a substantial increase in power.
PS. There are 440 Cougar 2's (white instrument dials etc) in right hand drive scattered around dealerships in the UK!