2000 Ford Puma Racing 1.7i 16v from UK and Ireland
Massive smile raiser
The front brakes have been replaced twice; once under warranty for a rubbing problem and the second time, at just 8500 miles, which cost 500 pounds for the discs and pads, before fitting.
There is an intermittent starting problem where the engine turns over, but refuses to fire. This can happen at any time and is resolved by a full throttle at turn over then lift off upon firing.
After replacing the front tyres, at 15000 miles for just over 100 pounds a pop, there was a steering shudder from 60-80 miles per hour so they were rebalanced, and rebalanced again then finally all four wheels were balanced by a main dealer which solved the problem.
A front wheel bearing started to fail at 17000 miles and was replaced under warranty.
This is one of only 500 models of the racing edition puma, sculpted by Tickfords and fettled by Ford Racing, so exclusivity is guaranteed. It is marked out by Imperial blue metallic paint, which takes on a purple hue in sunlight; widened body front and rear, 7 and 9 centimeters respectively; large, carbon fibre, front splitter and sits on 17 inch, 14 spoke speedlines.
As well the wider track front and rear, handling is markedly improved by up rated springs and dampers and re-sculpted front-end delivering phenomenal levels of grip; allowing you to carry ridiculous speeds in to and through corners.
Performance has also been improved by 30 break horse power to give a total of 153 BHP and deliver 60 miles an hour from stand still in around 7.5 seconds. I find the biggest improvement to be in first gear with only slight gains, over the standard 1.7, in the remaining 4 gears overall.
Inside, the car has been fitted with a fine set of Sparco racing seats, that hold all, but the smallest frame tightly in place, and there is a generous splash of blue alcantara throughout the cabin to match your seats; this even extends to your steering wheel.
I find the quick clear front wind screen a god send. You scrap the other windows and then just finish off the edges of the front window and you are ready to go.
There are few down sides to this car.
You do feel very closed in which may not suit all and head room is questionable if you are over 6 foot tall.
Visibility is pretty poor all round with rather thick A pillars and poor over shoulder vision, obscured by the now not so great seats.
The turning circle is very poor for a car this size.
Weight is up from the standard Puma from around 1060 kilograms to 1174, mainly due to questionable luxury additions, mostly the air con, for such a focused sports car.
Even pushed very hard you'll be hard pressed to find the limits of this car, off a racetrack, and if you do it'll be at a rather silly speed.
The suspension can get very tiring, especially on long journeys and that fantastic engine noise can be very intrusive at 70 miles per hour and 3500 revs.
Under steer can be a problem working out of tight bends, my old Puma faired better here.
At 23,000 pounds new no thanks, I'll take that Subaru Impreza turbo instead, but at just over 15,000 pounds for barely a year old model, you bet! Plus, the value is expected to settle at around 12,500 pounds and up to 15,000 pounds for a mint example, I'm quids in :)
I really love driving and owning this car. That's it.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 16th March, 2003
Excellent review, I own an FRP and agree with all the comments you made here. The FRP has an abysmal turning circle and long motorway journeys are a chore if you don't crank the stereo volume right up.
The positives far outweigh the negatives though - it looks fantastic, turns heads, has incredible handling and can carry improbable speeds around bends. This is the best handling FWD car I have ever driven: including Integra Type R, Prelude Type S (I owned one of these) and Corrado VR6.
It's also a very rare care too - only 500 were made and many of these have been nicked / written off over the past few years. It is likely to be a collector's item in the not too distant future.
My 2p's worth - Marty.
Excellent review, I test drove one of these three days ago and am picking up the very same car tomorrow.
When I read this review last week it was everything I wanted to hear and now (after driving it) I agree with all said.
I must admit that I didn't even aproach the lateral potential of this machine on the test drive, but I hope all my suspiscions will be confirmed in the next 24 hours.
I'm sure they will.
Your diff. would help you gain better traction out of those tight corners that I mentioned being a problem in my car. It was a cost option on all the cars I think.
I came back to add a couple more updates. Firstly, it is distressing to read about people replacing their steering wheel due to the alcantara looking bad. I cleaned mine with warm soapy water and a sponge then towel dried it and it brought it back to pretty much good as new. The flat worn looking spots were just bogged down with day to day grim build up rather than actual missing trim. Secondly, I traded it in for 10K in the end, two years later; not quite as good as the hype suggested :/