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Ford Cougar V6



IT'S been a long time coming, but finally Ford has a replacement for the unloved Probe - and it's a cracker. The latest interpretation of Ford's bold New Edge design philosophy, Cougar follows in the Puma's wheeltracks by combining terrific styling with unrivalled driver appeal and excellent value for money. One look at Cougar's specification reveals an outstanding package for the price, and it's the only coupe offering a V6 engine when most rivals come with just four cylinders.

Originally scheduled for launch last autumn, a clash with the introduction of the Focus plus overwhelming demand from America has meant a delay in the UK on-sale date. But now that supply is building, Ford is quoting delivery in 8-12 weeks - the same as for any other model. Just two engine choices are available - a 2.0-litre four-cylinder with 130bhp and a 2.5-litre V6 with 170bhp. Both are existing engines from the Mondeo - on which the Cougar is based - but pricewise, it's clear that most of Ford's marketing effort is going behind the V6. At ú21,000 on-the-road, it's just ú1,000 more than the 2.0-litre but offers a deal more sophistication, performance and general appeal. And at that price, it undercuts most four-cylinder rivals making it exceptional value for money.

At the top of the range is the V6 X, as tested here, costing ú22,000 with extra equipment such as leather trim and a CD autochanger. Even at this price point, it is cheaper than virtually all its rivals. With four proper seats and a huge boot, it means Cougar is a wholly viable alternative to an upmarket family saloon or hatch, but, as we shall see, its cost profile is better than for the equivalent top-of-the-range Mondeo, with the emphasis on improved residual values.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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