Many bloggers, pundits and forum posters have been saying that Ford should bring out a new Cougar (or even Lincoln) based on the wildly sucessful Mustang. I disagree, the Mustang is great, there's no doubt about that, for it's price range, there is little that can touch it. But the Mustang is missing a certain sophistication and level of content that a Cougar should have.
Now sure Mercury strayed a little from the original Cougar concept and vision, until in the 70's the Cougar was little more than a rebadged Thunderbird or LTD II .
And even worse, by this time, not only was the Cougar available as a 4 door sedan, but a station wagon. This is a 1977 Mercury Cougar Villager.
When Cougar dropped the 4 door and wagon verisions in the early 80's, it still remained a rebadged Thunderbird. Now these sold well, but were not really unique vehicles.
One car that was unique was the short lived 1999- 2003 Mercury Cougar built on the Ford Contour chassis. A sporty 2 door front wheel drive V6 coupe, these are still popular with the younger "tuner" crowd. It's possible to swap in the SVT Contour's 24v V6 and have a quick if not fast car. But this one never really caught on.
Now many people have looked at the Mercury Messenger Concept car and drooled at the prospect of having a Mustang based Cougar. I say NO! Take this stunning Ford Iosis concept, and put the Lincoln LS/Jaguar S-Type chassis under it, offer both 2 and 4 door versions, give it the new 3.5 V6 with a minimum of 250 hp, and put a top of the line V8 with a minimum of 340 hp, offer both automatic and 6 spd manual transmissions, with available traction and stability control. It doesn't matter to me if the V8 is the 4.6/5.4 Modular family or the Lincoln/Jaguar/Range Rover family 3.9/4.2/4.4 familiy, with or without supercharger. Make sure there's a moonroof and rich leather interior available. Don't cheap out on airbags or abs, make them standard. Price the thing from $30,000 for base V6 to $35,000 (base price, actual delivered prices could tough $40k) for higher powered V8 versions and market it against Lexus, Infinit, Nissan and BMW.
This post was inspired by comments by JD and reinforces some points I had made earlier.
If Ford is going to do it, do it right or don't do it at all. A new Cougar should be the "Halo" car for Mercury, not just a Mustang with a new grille.