Ford Puma, but not as we know it

A compact coupe name gets recycled and slapped on Ford’s latest crossover. By James Dennison

Sports car sympathisers and SUV haters look away now, as the enemy has well and truly captured the flag. Ford’s latest crossover is called Puma, a name that at the turn of the century was attached to the type of spicy front-wheel-drive coupe we seldom see today. But if you can put misty-eyed memories aside, 2020’s new Puma – based on a wider version of the Fiesta platform – has a lot going for it. It looks striking, for a start. From the alien-mask front end, to the sculpted sides and bulging wheelarches, it’s very different from any other Ford SUV, and bigger than the Fiesta Active. It’s front-drive only.

Ford Puma, but not as we know it

Ford Puma, but not as we know it

The engine line-up introduces two mild-hybrid units. Both the 123 and 153bhp three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrols will come with EcoBoost Hybrid technology, featuring a belt-driven integrated starter/generator system that captures surplus braking energy and uses it to charge a 48-volt lithium-ion battery pack. The mild-hybrid system serves many purposes. It can bring a 15bhp performance boost, and it assists the car’s overall efficiency by allowing the automatic stop-start system to work smoothly and quickly at up to 10mph. Other engines – including 1.0-litre triples minus the mild-hybrid element, and a 1.5-litre diesel four – will also be available. What looks like a Puma ST mule has been seen undergoing tests, raising the prospect of a 197bhp version.

The cabin clearly owes a debt to the current Fiesta, but there are several differences. A 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster is standard, and there are nods to serious off-roading in the form of removable seat covers and a drain plug in the floor for easy cleaning. The boot can be configured to make room for stowing two sets of golf clubs upright – just about as far from the spirit of the previous Puma as you could get.

Puma cabin low-key next to rival VW T-Cross and Peugeot 2008

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