The Ford Puma is back! The only trouble is, rather than being affixed to the rump of a pretty and affordable little coupe, the Puma badge is now being used for an all-new compact crossover. Because there aren’t enough of those already, you understand.
This latest lifted hatchback - which is described as “sporty and athletic” - sits on the same Ford B-car platform as the Fiesta and the Fiesta Active. The Puma seems to have a fair bit of overlap with the latter car, but it promises to be noticeably more practical.
Its 456-litres of boot space is class-leading, and it includes a special 80-litre lower ‘load box’. This part has a synthetic lining and a drain plug, making it easy to hose out if you’ve sullied it hashtaglifestyle gear like muddy hiking boots.
It sits under a divider made from 100 per cent recycled paper, which can be folded flat against the rear seat bench if you’d need to load any particularly bulky items. Doing so should be nice and easy, as the Puma’s boot can be opened by merely waving your foot under the rear bumper - a segment first, Ford says.
From launch, only a 1.0-litre inline-three turbo engine will be available with two states of tune: 123bhp or 153bhp. As it happens, the output of the latter is identical to that of the old Ford Racing Puma.
Whichever version of the 1.0-litre lump you go for, it’ll be fitted with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system. This extends the functionality stop/start system, allowing you to coast to a stop below 10mph without using a drop of unleaded. It also compensates for turbo lag and gives a torque boost of up to 50 per cent at lower engine speeds.
Later on, there’ll be a diesel with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox joining the two manual petrols. Who knows - Ford may even opt to stuff the Fiesta ST’s 1.5-litre inline-three unit at some point.
The new Puma is set to go on sale at the tail end of 2019 and will be built at the Ford Craiova Assembly Plant in Romania.