|FORD PUMA 1.0 125 TITANIUM|
|The story: Ford has resurrected the Puma name for its new small crossover, going head-to-head with the likes of the Nissan Juke and VW T-Cross for the first time|
|Key rival:||Nissan Juke|
|Emissions:||96g/km (NEDC), 124g/km (WLTP)|
Ford has been slow to the small crossover marketplace that has become the fastest-growing car sector, offering only the Ecosport that isn’t the most competitive or stylish of models.
But that’s about to change, thanks to the resurrection of the Puma nameplate previously used on a small coupé in the late 1990s. It’s now back as a sporty compact crossover model, initially powered by a choice of two 1.0-litre petrol engines with 125hp and 155hp, plus a diesel following in May.
The petrol units are fitted with the mild-hybrid technology that is making its way across the Ford range of cars and vans. This cuts emissions on the 125hp version by 7g/km to 124g/km versus the regular 1.0 without the 48kW system, under the WLTP emissions test regime coming from April, or from 103g/km to 96g/km for cars registered before the end of March. Ford claims economy benefits of up to 9%, balancing the £300 cost versus the regular petrol 125 also sold.
Confusingly, the Titanium trim is the entry level, for now at least, rather than the higher and more luxury spec it is on other models, costing £900 less than the ST Line spec, which is another £1100 below ST Line X.
The Puma shares some of the Fiesta’s underpinnings, which gives it a great starting point in terms of the handling, poise and agility, and makes it one of the more entertaining cars in the class to drive. The 1.0-litre 125hp driven here is, with a bit of work on hills, perfectly fine for this size of car, but those wanting a bit more performance may appreciate the £850 step up to the 155hp version, which tips over one BiK band higher from April, with a WLTP emissions figure of 126g/km, or 99g/km for early customers.
The interior is also recognisable to anyone that has sat in a Fiesta or Focus. The cabin is a bit of a mixed bag in terms of quality, with plenty of nice touches such as fabric sections on the door where elbows rest, but cheaper plastics are also in evidence, as is the case with the Puma’s small Ford siblings.
Rear legroom is just about OK but taller adult passengers will find themselves having to duck to see out of the back window, such is the angle of the glass, and speccing the optional panoramic sunroof robs enough headroom for six-footers to be rubbing the roof lining in any seat.
Boot space is claimed to be class-leading, and the luggage area contains the innovative MegaBox (right).
Residual values, emissions and equipment are all at a very decent level, and the Puma is innovative, good to drive and distinctively styled, making for a very useful entrance into the fast-growing segment by the UK’s biggest player.