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Stylish and spacious Ford Puma leaps from sporty number to excellent family car

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Smart and roomy: Ford’s new Puma is stylish and spacious

Smart and roomy: Ford’s new Puma is stylish and spacious

Smart and roomy: Ford’s new Puma is stylish and spacious

Smart and roomy: Ford’s new Puma is stylish and spacious

Latest addition: Puma ST-Line Vignale

Latest addition: Puma ST-Line Vignale

Smart and roomy: Ford’s new Puma is stylish and spacious

Smart and roomy: Ford’s new Puma is stylish and spacious

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Smart and roomy: Ford’s new Puma is stylish and spacious

Stepping in to the new Ford Puma last week brought back some very fond memories for me.

I had to turn my mind back almost 20 years to when my wife rolled up the driveway like Steve McQueen's sister in her brand new sports model that I named the 'Silver Bullet'.

At the same, I was driving around in a 10-year-old Corolla that was on its last legs and was being held together with cable ties.

Around the same time my driving test had eventually come around and there wasn't a hope I was going to chance it in my Fred Flintstone mobile and decided to use the wife's Puma, and passed the test in it with flying colours.

I remember vividly, too, at the time a petrol- head colleague of mine telling me to hold on to the Puma always and never sell it as it would eventually become a collector's item in years to come. Sadly, the Puma had to go when the nippers arrived as they weren't very child-friendly cars back then.

However, that has all changed 20 years on and the latest Puma to roll off the production lines is a far cry from the sports model I conned the test driver in all those years ago.

It saddened me a bit that Ford has decided to keep the name of a super little sports model and hand it over to yet another SUV/SAV/Crossover whatever you like to call them these days. However, that doesn't take away from the fact that the new Ford Puma is an excellent family car.

On the outside, the new Ford Puma is really stylish and eye-catching from the moment you see the expressive front-end features and intricately designed "canoe-shaped" headlamps that sit high on the wings.

Inside, too, is smart and spacious with plenty of leg and headroom - the latter is one thing the original model didn't have.

On the road, my test car was fitted with 1.0-litre EcoBoost 125PS mHEV petrol engine. The EcoBoost Hybrid technology enhances Puma's 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine with an 11.5 kW belt-driven integrated starter/generator (BISG).

Replacing the standard alternator, the BISG enables recovery and storage of energy usually lost during braking and coasting to charge a 48‑volt lithium-ion air-cooled battery pack. It's a fine little engine but the three- cylinder is a tad noisy at high revs.

Meanwhile, Ford has further expanded the new Puma range with additional power-train and equipment level options - offering the most comprehensive line-up yet for the SUV-inspired compact crossover.

Customers can now choose from Puma models equipped with a new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, and a luxurious new Puma ST-Line X Vignale variant.

Based on the sporty Puma ST-Line X variant, the Puma ST-Line X Vignale, available from €28,644, adds even more premium styling and specification. Unique details include exclusive 18-inch alloys, a satin aluminium upper grille and surround, ebony lower grille, and body-coloured lower rear bumper. Standard specification includes signature LED headlights, Windsor leather seats, wrapped instrument cluster, heated front seats, heated steering wheel and Ford Key-free system.

Further Puma variant models, including the Titanium, ST-Line and ST-Line X, feature as standard innovative technologies, including Ford's Local Hazard Information, enabled by the Ford-pass Connect modem and the versatile Ford Mega-box storage solution, able to house unstable items up to approximately 115 cm tall - such as house plants or golf clubs - in an upright position.

In June, Ford announced that a new Ford Performance Puma ST model will join the range later this year. The entry price for the new Ford Puma (Titanium model) starts from €24,835 while the Ford Puma ST-Line X from €27,917. My test car came with a host of extras and pushed the price up to €31,317.