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‘Best thing we’ve driven all year’

Thursday, 29th October, 2020 10:18am

This could have all gone so horribly wrong. Resurrecting a revered badge from the past is always fraught with danger, especially one that was so beloved.

The original Puma, a dinky, fun, Fiesta-based coupe, was one of the very best cars of Ford’s late-nineties, early-2000s pomp and remains close to the hearts of many enthusiasts. Taking that name and applying it to a 2020 compact crossover seemed, ahead of the fact, like heresy at best, betrayal at worst.

Small crossovers have tended to be lowest-common-denominator cars, designed to appeal on a marketing level, but not actually being all that good once you start driving them. As it turned out, we needn’t have worried — Ford has aced the new Puma, and in doing so has seriously raised the standard in this oft-maligned class of car.

Once again, it’s based on the chassis of the Ford Fiesta, but it’s longer, a little wider, and taller than the hatchback. That has done nothing but good things to the chassis, which now manages the neat trick of feeling more stable and planted on the road, yet just as agile and entertaining. The steering is sublime.

It’s also very practical, with a big boot and that clever ‘Megabox’ underfloor storage box, and there’s decent space in the back seats. The 1.0 litre mild-hybrid engine is a gem, with plenty of poke but decent real-world fuel economy.

Downsides? The cabin’s a bit dowdy and the ride is too jittery on the bigger optional alloy wheels, but even with those flaws the new Puma is the best thing we’ve driven all year — a practical family car that you’ll want to take out on a weekend morning just for fun.

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