Cougar Tuning

"Thank you for reading our Ford Cougar tuning tips."

Ford needed to create a sporty coupe suitable for the practical considerations of a family. Their first effort was the Probe and the Cougar styling was a radical step for Ford winning it many fans, and we are sure the Cougar is destined for future classic status.

There were 2 engine choices, a 2.0 Zetec unit and a Duratec V6 2.5. Both engines respond well to tuning although the 2.5 V6 clearly has the upper hand when it comes to power.

See our video which provides a complete introduction to Ford Tuning, it contains some tips on performance and handling modifications.

Cougar Handling/Suspension upgrades

Improving the handling for car enthusiasts first priority in your Cougar tuning project.

Fully adjustable suspension allows you to fine tune the handling of you Cougar usually enhancing your drive.

Drop the car optimally somewhere in the region of 27mm - 37 mm and fit modified stiffer dampers, bigger drops will need other modifications in most instances.

The handling on the Cougar is rather soft considering the sporty aspirations so suspension upgrades should be high up on your priority list.

A strut brace and anti roll bar will help to improve the cornering. If you are going to lower the car we would not lower the car by more than 30-35mm without getting the suspension geometry realigned.

Improvements to the bushings

Bushing improvements are needed so what's involved?

It is possible to connect the Cougar's suspension components to the chassis of the Cougar using poly bushes, which are direct replacements for the rubber mounts. The rubber ones will lose their shape with time and need replacing anyway so why not upgrade.

Installing new OEM rubber bushings may dramatically improve the performance of your car.

Because the polyurethane bushes are firmer, the ride may be a bit bumpier, but they will last longer and maintain the handling.

Increased vibration and play may also hasten the decay in other suspension parts.

A new set of polyeyurothane bushes should help to mitigate the excessive play associated with rubber bushes.

You may struggle to find a full set of polyeyurothane bushings, but most areas have the primary mounts available. Often, custom Cougar poly bushings may be manufactured to your requirements.

Cougar Brake Mods

Putting bigger discs and better quality pads should make for radically enhanced stopping.

Note that motorsport brake pads will be noisy and will need to be hot before they bite.

In every day driving the brakes are occasionally used, therefore won't be as effective at slowing you up so choose friction pads which have a low working temperature.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

A nice wide torque band and sweet spot of peak power at one third of your RPM range is optimum.

With the right choice of mods you can turn your Cougar into a fun car, potentially beating bigger engined cars on the track.

To be completely frank and honest, on the more modest engine sizes you are wasting your time spending money on modifications, so if this applies to you get yourself an engine swap then apply the following mods.

Top end power should be your overall aim on the Cougar with a nice fat peak torque band. The engine has a nice wide power band and it would be a shame to compromise this. Putting the power down is also a challenge, especially when tuned so a Torque Sensing diff is a good option, and really allows faster cornering.

With just a few mods you can transform your Cougar into a fun car, beating larger cars on the track.

Smaller engines do not provide much of a return in terms of power so start with a bigger engine. Engine swaps are a good option if you have a small engine size.

Engine Tuning modifications.

Your aim when tuning should be a nice flat torque curve and a wide power band. One of the best mechanical mods you can do is to fit a fast road cam.

Don't forget to uprate the fuelling when you are increasing the power - it makes the car more thirsty. You can get a more snappy acceleration by fitting a fuel pressure boost valve but power will remain unchanged. Uprating the injectors is another beneficial modification and will deliver sufficient fuel. Uprate the fuel pump to cope with the extra fuel requirements of your tuned Cougars uprated injectors.

The following mods are usually carried out by our members, decide how far you want to go before you begin.

For NA (naturally aspirated) engines please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your Cougar. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

Best mods for your Cougar

  1. Braking Mods - Stopping your Cougar needs to be near the top of your Mods list.
  2. Air Induction and Exhaust - Be aware on their own these mods won't ADD POWER on most cars, but they permit you to enhance power after other mods by freeing up a restriction.
  3. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.
  4. Fast road Camshafts are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be setup by someone qualified to set them up and you might struggle to find one but there might be a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft for you.
  5. Engine Tunes - A tune/remap ensures the most power in terms of cost, aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  6. Forced induction upgrades - Adding a turbocharger is the most efficient approach to increase your intakes air supply, ensuring you are able to utilize more fuel and make better power figures. Although one of the most challenging mods but provides the best gains.
  7. Flywheel lightening - a reduced weight flywheel will noticably improve the engines rev changes. But not always not a great upgrade for all Cougar engines.
  8. Cougar Handling modifications - Fitting a more sporty Suspension kit greatly enhances your Cougar road holding and cornering. Adjustable coilovers and better bushings are what is needed here.

Cougar Tuning Stages

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Remap, Panel air filter, Alloy wheels, Suspension upgrade (drop ), Sports exhaust, Lighter flywheel.

Typical stage 2 mods often include: Ported and polished head, fuel pump upgrades, Fast road cam, Power/Sport clutch, high flow fuel injector.

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Sports gearbox, Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Engine balancingInternal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), Competition cam.

Cougar Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

Breathing mods are usually next up. Induction kits only help to add performance if your air intake is struggling! Adding an induction kit to most standard engines will see NO POWER GAIN AT ALL. If you have heavily modified your engine and it's need for air INCREASES DRAMATICALLY then an induction kit is the answer and will help remove this restriction.

Derestricting the airflow into the engine is a primary goal of tuning so get a freer flowing air filter if you find that the car is running lean only if you find the car is running lean. Induction kits can sound sporty but due to the warm air in the engine bay they will not do much to increase power and actually rob you of power on most cars.

Sports exhausts can usually air flow through the engine but avoid an exhaust that is too large or you could very well end up with a reduced flow rate. So generally speaking, keep to 1.7 to 2.5 inches for best results.

Head work including a gas flow and 3 or 5 angle valve job will really help to release the potential of the engine. Your clutch can slip if it starts to suffer and the standard clutches are only ever good for power gains of up to 48%.

Fit a competition clutch to avoid power losses through the transmission. The best mods in our experience for your Cougar are fast road camshaft, remap, induction and exhaust, suspension. A tune/remap on the 2.5 V6 will yield a gain of a round 10-14bhp, whilst not much it really helps smooth out the flat spots and gives a lot more power across the rev range.

We've also seen some tuners experimenting with twincharging conversions and making some impressively high power hikes.

Adding forced induction will see phenomenal power gains but this is usually too expensive to be cost effective. It is generally simpler to bolt on a supercharger than it is to install a turbo. Turbos increase power in exponential proportion to rising engine speed and this can make mapping difficult.

It is simpler to map a supercharger because the boost is proportional to engine speed on a linear curve. To cope with forced induction you will usually need to decrease the compression ratio of the engine .

Wheel modifications.

Because alloy wheels are lighter they improve performance and they help to cool the brake disks. It is worth noting that although they can look cool on the Cougar Big alloy wheels will actually decrease your performance. The larger you go the lower your acceleration will be - this is due to the change in your effective final drive ratio.

Aim to keep the overall rolling diameter of the wheel the same as supplied from the factory. In all cases we do not recommend going above 17 inches.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your car please join us in our car forums where you can discuss Cougar options in more detail with our Cougar owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Ford tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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One Response to “Ford Cougar Tuning”

  1. Jason says:

    if i go 19” wheels, will that be leagel on a ford cougar 2001

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