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