Check out my full review of the Puma reincarnation
Yes, there was a Ford Puma in the late 90s. Yes, it was a two-door sporty little thing. No, this new Puma is not quite the same. But yes, there is some shared DNA. And something else, both are recipients of great acclaim and numerous awards.
The new car is based on the current Ford Fiesta, itself highly regarded not just for being Britain’s best-selling car, but also for just being a fantastic little runabout. The Puma of course is bigger – a compact crossover with SUV-like stance and capacity, yet promising the same level of nippiness the Fiesta boasts.
The design really works, it’s cutesy enough to be appealing and innocuous, while at the same time having an air of sporty intent and ardent readiness. In the rear world, its compact dimensions make it less than a liability around town, but maintain a promise of roominess and practicality, while affording a crossover/SUV-like lofty vantage point. These factors immediately give it an edge over the Fiesta.
Prices range from £22-25k for the models equipped with the 1.0 Ecoboostturboed three-cylinder engines available in two states of tune, that’s either 125bhp or 155bhp, driving the front wheels and mated to a 6-speed manual.
Oh, and one other thing, they’re mild hybrid (MHEV) set-ups. There is a 48 Volt battery on board which smooths out the stop-start system, provides increased initial torque and lowers emissions with 101g/km CO2 put out for the 155bhp version tested. Top speed is 124mph, with rest to 62mph acceleration in 8.9 seconds. Fuel consumption is around 50mpg.
If you want an automatic, there is a 7-speed available, but only with the 125bhp version, and no hybrid. If you crave more power, that’s available too. The more recently introduced ST edition has the 200bhp 1.5-litre Turbo motor endowing it with hot-hatch acceleration (0-62mph in 6.7 seconds).
In addition to the taller body and higher driving position, you get more luggage space than a Fiesta and rear accommodation that’s just about enough for a pair of six-footers. That is to say passenger accommodation is not bad at all, and up front the news is even better. It’s essentially like a Fiesta in that it’s ergonomically sound, but also sportily well-fitting, yet more welcoming for taller drivers – a boon for six-foot me.
The manual is slick and enjoyable to use, the brakes reassuring, the ride is surprisingly mature and performance is perfectly adequate for darting about town and keeping up with hard-charging BMWs on the motorways. The steering is superb for a vehicle of this type, nicely weighted, avid in its responses and satisfying in its execution.
Spend a couple of days with this car and it’s easy to see why it’s picking up plaudits and gongs. It’s dynamic, practical and affordable. It isideally-sized for the urban environment, and also long-legged enough to comfortably dispatch inter-city journeys.
If you were considering the option of buying a Fiesta, just 10 minutes in this will cause you to re-evaluate. Yes the Fiesta is superb, but this is better, not much more expensive, and every time you get in, you’re greeted with a bright coloured and glowing Puma image beaming at you from the instrument panel. And who wouldn’t want that? Now I can’t wait to try the ST version!
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