Ford Puma ST-Line X

Ford Puma, front action 2
Ford Puma, front action 1
Ford Puma, front static
Ford Puma, side static
Ford Puma, rear static
Ford Puma, dashboard
Ford Puma, rear seats
Ford Puma, boot 1

NEARLY 20 years after the radically styled Ford Puma took to the roads the newest generation Puma is again wowing buyers with completely different but equally radical looks.

And just like the original the newest model owes a lot to Ford's best selling car, the Fiesta.

But while much of the underpinnings are Fiesta based the latest Puma has a style all its own and a lot of unique features guaranteed to appeal to buyers looking for something different.

This compact SUV is some six inches longer and nearly three inches wider than a Fiesta and stands tall so you have good all round vision.

With a striking grille, swept back headlights, large rear spoiler and dramatic side skirts on the ST-Line version driven here it also has plenty of road presence.

But the Puma's not just about looks, it majors on practicality too.

It's the first three cylinder car, for example, designed to turn off one cylinder completely when you're coasting or just cruising at a steady pace to save fuel.

And when it comes to luggage the Puma is equally radical thanks to a deep 80 litre well that sits beneath the boot floor. It's rubber lined and designed to take muddy Wellington boots, wet fishing waders or anything else aquatic.

And when it gets dirty you can just wash it out thanks to a removable drain plug at the bottom.

The MegaBox, as Ford dubs it, also means golfers can stand their golf bags upright in the boot without any problem. And for budding Rory Mcllroys that‘s a big selling point.

Inside the cabin the ST-Line X Puma is as stylish and upmarket as it is sporty thanks to carbon-fibre-look detailing on the dashboard, alloy sports pedals, red stitching on the black partial leather sports-style seats, steering wheel, doors and armrest as well as red detailing on the air vents.

Push the starter button and the screen in front of you explodes into a kaleidoscope of dramatic shapes and colours like lightening flashes in the night sky which morph into a graphic of a stalking puma.

As the puma disappears the conventional dials - speedometer and rev counter - appear. Except that in this case they are far from conventional as they have a different look every time you change the car's driving mode.

There's a choice of normal, eco, sport, slippery and even trail to select from although the car defaults to normal every time you turn off the ignition.

And despite only being a 1.0-litre car the Puma delivers crisp and punchy performance if you are happy to wind up the revs.

The six-speed manual gearbox allows for sharp gear changes and the sports suspension on the ST-Line ensures that this car delivers engaging performance with very little body roll.

Music fans will be delighted with the superb sound from the Bang & Olufsen 10-speaker premium audio system while the air conditioning system is one of the best in the business as I discovered when temperatures soared well above 30C.

Safety features on board include everything from pedestrian/cyclist detection and autonomous emergency braking to lane keeping aid lane departure warning systems.

The ST-Line X starts from of just over £24,000 but you can dress up your Puma to suit your individual taste if you have a big enough bank balance.

My test car featured a panoramic opening glass roof at £950, a powered tailgate at £600, a driver assistance pack at £900 and the exclusive grey matter exterior colour at £750.

FAST FACTS

Ford Puma ST-Line X

Price: £24,420

Mechanical: 155bhp, 998cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 124mph

0-62mph: 8.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 54.3

Insurance Group: 15

C02 emissions: 101g/km

Bik rating: 25%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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