In sporty-styled ST-Line trim, our Puma comes with plenty of kit, including 17in alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights and sports suspension. Inside, there are more ST-Line trim flourishes, including a leather, flat-bottomed steering wheel, a wireless phone charger and a 12.3in touchscreen with Ford’s newest infotainment system.
Ford still found a few options boxes to tick on our behalf, although it could be a good few months before we make use of the Comfort Pack’s heated seats and heated steering wheel. There’s also an electric boot opening, which probably doesn’t seem necessary for a car of this size, and rear privacy glass. Our car also came in Metropolis White, which at £650 is one of the most expensive colour options. We were a bit sceptical about paying more for white, but it definitely looks stylish in the metal (at least before getting a bit mucky). This brings the total price to £25,140, which is firmly in the mix with rivals such as the Volkswagen T-Cross, the Mazda CX-30 and, inevitably, the Juke.
Happily, first impressions are positive. When you’re behind the wheel, you could easily mistake this compact crossover for a Fiesta. That’s partly because of the interior, which, while spruced up a bit (in particular with an upgraded infotainment system), is broadly similar to that of its supermini sibling: perfectly functional but not class-leading.
More importantly, it has the flair of the Fiesta when it comes to ride and handling, with positive steering and admirable poise and fluency in corners. At times, it feels as if Ford has pulled off some more CGI trickery to stick an enlarged crossover body on a Fiesta. It’s nimble enough, in fact, that I’ve even found myself humming that Lalo Schifrin theme music as I whizz round corners and up steep hills.
Making a compact crossover that has the handling verve of a small hatch is a fine achievement, but we’re asking for the Puma to prove more over the next few months: we want to find out if the added practicality and space promised by that enlarged body will make the Puma worth considering not just over class rivals but ahead of the Fiesta itself, too.
It’s a tough ask – but it’s a credit to the job Ford has done with the Puma that we’re even posing the question.