The Cat Attacks - Mercury Unleashes 1999 Cougar

6 January 1998

The Cat Attacks - Mercury Unleashes 1999 Cougar

    DETROIT, Jan. 6 -- Kicking off its "Year of the Cat," Mercury
launched the all-new 1999 Cougar sports coupe today at the North American
International Auto Show.
    Incorporating Ford Motor Company's first North American
applications of its New Edge design and side air-bag technology, the sleek,
front-wheel-drive four-seat sports coupe is designed to lure a new generation
of customers into Mercury showrooms.
    "Our challenge was to combine the athletic stance and agility of a sports
car with the expressive elegance of a Mercury.  We also wanted the
practicality of four seats in a two-door wrapper," said Jac Nasser, president,
Ford Automotive Operations.  "This is an admittedly ambitious list, but our
new Cougar -- just like the original back in 1967 -- really delivers."
    The new coupe harkens back to the nameplate's roots by communicating a
refined sportiness and a fun-to-drive character.  Cougar is based on the
highly acclaimed Mystique/Contour-Mondeo platform for advanced driving
dynamics.
    Customers can choose either the base 16-valve Zetec I-4 engine, which
develops 125 horsepower, or the available 24-valve Duratec V-6, which
generates 170 h.p.
    Cougar's vehicle dynamics are calibrated to deliver sports car handling;
steering, braking and handling characteristics are tuned to inspire driver
confidence with the car's ability to hold the road.
    Reflecting its leading-edge design, Cougar is equipped with four-channel
anti-lock brakes and optional side air bags that help protect the chest and
head of front-seat occupants.  Cougar's side air bags are a first in the North
American small specialty segment and previously were found only on luxury
vehicles.
    Cougar offers seating for four adults.  Its large rear hatch and split-
fold rear seats provide ample space for passengers or cargo.
    By capitalizing on the economies of scale, Mercury offers advanced
technology at a competitive price.  Approximately 70 percent of Cougar's basic
parts are common with Contour-Mondeo/Mystique.
    Mercury is targeting 25- to 40-year-old customers, about half of whom are
female, who lead active, athletic lives.
    Cougar, which also will be sold in Europe, arrives in North American
showrooms this spring.  Designed and engineered by Ford's Small and Medium Car
Vehicle Center in Europe, Cougar will be built exclusively at the AutoAlliance
International assembly plant in Flat Rock, Mich.

SOURCE  Ford Motor Company

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