The next-gen Puma has swapped its coupe roots for crossover SUV status
Starting out life as a sports coupe in the late 90s, the original Puma was only in production for four years before Ford pulled the plug in 2001.
Nearly two decades on, however, the American manufacturer is just about ready to relaunch the name in the form of a compact crossover SUV.
Built on the same platform as the Fiesta, it’s being billed as a motor that’ll “help you get the most out of today’s modern living”.
How will it do that then?
In short, almost all the new model shares with its former namesake is the vague shape of the headlights.
That, and the fact it still falls into the ‘compact’ section of its class. But replacing the low-riding, three-door form is bold SUV styling and five doors.
Although it’s not too dissimilar to the Fiesta Active crossover, in terms of size and even looks, you can imagine it’ll be popular.
The Puma is the one with the athletic edge, especially in ST-Line and ST-Line X, thanks to its sweeping lines and sportier front end. And that’s reflected in the engine too, a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol that’ll join with a 48-volt electric motor for up to 150bhp.
The mild-hybrid system will support the petrol engine in torque delivery and use regenerative braking tech to recharge the battery, in turn improving fuel economy and emissions figures.
For the 125 PS variant, Ford claim CO2 emissions of 124 g/km and fuel efficiency of 5.4 l/100km, and CO2 emissions of 127 g/km and fuel efficiency of 5.6 l/100km for the 155 PS version.
It also comes with selectable drive modes and a number of assistive features, including adaptive cruise control and collision assists.
But the Puma’s usability goes further than that – despite being a compact, it’s been built in a way that maximises the space available.
The MegaBox is a standout feature
Round the back you’ll find a best-in-class load space, featuring the new MegaBox. The 80-litre storage space sits beneath the boot floor, which when raised, offers over a metre of height and 456 litres of capacity.
But it also doubles as a storage box for mucky gear. If you play Sunday league or go rambling every now and then, it’ll come in handy.
It’s waterproof too, so you can give it a wash afterwards and open the plug at the base that’ll drain the water out the bottom of the car – a more than useful quirk.
As current as it gets
There’s no doubt the new Puma is a car of its time. As a small, stylish crossover, it’s already ticking a load of boxes. And in the current climate of ‘go SUV or go home’, Ford are on the pulse of what drivers want.
Diehard fans of the original sports coupe will probably swerve this one on the grounds of blasphemy, but if you can get around the recycling of its name badge and appreciate the direction SUVs have taken us, it’s an appealing little motor.
And I can’t help but wonder what an ST version would look like? One step at a time.