Officially, the company describes the Puma as an “SUV-inspired crossover”, with its three standout virtues claimed to be “seductive styling”, ingenious rear stowage and the new 48V mild-hybrid petrol drivetrain.
The body’s flowing surfaces have been developed under what designer George Saridakis labels an “anti-wedge” policy. What he calls “separated” headlights and tail-lights are also a move against the current trends for “joining everything up”, Saridakis citing the industry fashion for full-width light bars across a vehicle’s tail.
The new Puma is based on Ford's existing B global small car architecture, the same as the Fiesta, but the platform’s inherent flexibility has allowed the Puma to be sized very specifically.
It is just 30mm higher than the new Fiesta and the front seating position is raised by the same amount. This is still a compact vehicle, but it is usefully longer than the Fiesta as well as wider, with a wider track. And it squeezes a surprising amount of interior space out of a vehicle that’s smaller than the Focus.
Saridakis says he and the project’s chief engineer, Norbert Steffens, worked in the styling studio with “cardboard and tape” trying to extract the maximum luggage space from the Puma structure. This crossover has a claimed 456 litres of boot space, whereas the Focus has just 370 litres.
They achieved this by way of what Ford calls a “lower load box”. Cut through the boot floor, the box is a useful 80 litres in capacity and even has a removable plug in the bottom to allow it to be washed out.
The Puma’s rigid boot floor can also be fitted in three different ways: low, on top of the load box; at a mid-height, which gives generous hidden storage; and clipped out of the way, by being attached to the backs of the rear seats.
Steffens demonstrated that, with the boot floor clipped out of the way, it is possible to load items such as a golf club bag vertically in the back of the Puma thanks to the extra load height offered by the box. Even the parcel shelf has been rethought as a lightweight fabric cover attached to the tailgate itself, which avoids the need to stow an awkward load cover.
From an engineering point of view, it’s the Puma’s new 48V mild-hybrid drivetrain that stands out. This is based around an updated version of Ford’s 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol unit and replaces the conventional alternator with an 11.5kW integrated starter/ generator (called a BISG). It will come in 123bhp and 153bhp guises, with the more powerful version using a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.