Ford Puma Review: 1999 Model | Puma | Car Buyers Guide

2000 Ford Puma Review

It must be the sight of the new Focus RS and talk of the firm having to make a RS Ford that makes money that’s bringing back memories of the 2000 Ford Racing Puma. As with most of the truly epic fast Fords, each Racing Puma sold reportedly cost the company money despite the fact that it was exorbitantly expensive at the time: The cars started off as fully made Pumas and were then sent to the Tickford division in the UK to have the bodywork, suspension, cabin modifications and performance tuning installed by hand.


In contrast to most special-edition Fords, there was no long line of buyers waiting to snap up the Racing Puma. Demand was so slack, in fact, that it never reached its sales goal of 1,000 units (only 500 RHD models were made – half went to Ford employees) and it went out of production, taking the “Ford Racing” brand with it. Price was one factor in its lack of popularity but it didn’t help that the resulting car was panned by the critics and had the stiffest ride and hardest seats you could possibly imagine in a road car. Even its performance figures were pretty lacklustre, especially in the context of the car’s looks, price and overall execution. You’d rightly expect a lot more than 155hp and a 0-100km/h time of 7.9 seconds – it’s hardly surprising Ford never repeated the Ford Racing formula.


So why, then, did I absolutely love it? Unlike the Focus RS, which grabbed all the headlines around that time, the Racing Puma only had as much power as its chassis could handle and its modifications all worked perfectly together, whereas the RS felt like it was trying to tear itself apart. The feel and weight coming through the steering was amazing, as good as any car I can ever remember, so it felt much more rapid than the performance figures suggest, while the lowered driving position and the view out over the hugely blistered wings made you feel you were in a proper little racing car. The ride was stiff but this wasn’t a family car, it was a loon-mobile and in that context it was perfectly acceptable, and the throttle, Alcon brakes and the slick gearshift were as sharp and tight as possible. It even popped and burbled on overrun, spitting fuel out of its loud exhaust. As an overall driver’s car it was simply electric and it was one of those cars I was glad to hand back because I would have got into trouble in it had I had it any longer.


It’s not the Puma’s fault that Ford lost money on it or that it didn’t have the all-important RS badge or that it’s largely forgotten today. The car itself was a cracker and honest to its short-lived branding, too. The Racing Puma felt exactly as you’d expect a roadgoing version of a “Ford Racing” car to feel.



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