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Ford Puma out of the woods

With its toned silhouette, this SUV with a false coupé-like appearance is also very lively to drive. A good surprise that could wake up Ford.

Pushed to its limits by disappointing sales, to the point that the question of its maintenance on the European market had arisen, and a guilty lack of responsiveness to the new deal created by the strengthening of environmental standards, Ford comes out of the doldrums . Its latest model, the Puma, is a good surprise that could wake up a brand that, obsessed with respect for the golden mean, most often delights in offering the general European public serious models but without genius.  Not to mention that the manufacturer has also gone astray.  For example, by trying to market the Ecosport on the Old Continent, a slightly rustic and not very graceful pocket SUV with its spare wheel mounted on the tailgate, like the 4x4s of the last century.  The Puma will have no trouble making him forget it.

 It will be appreciated that, unlike Captur, this car tries to prevail overly agreed point lines.

 In short, it was a long time ago - with the first Ka, in the early 1990s, when the pretty coupe, also called Puma, appeared in 1997 - that we had not been faced with such a comely Ford.  Which is good because the segment of the raised compact models, dominated by the Renault Captur and the Volkswagen duo T-Roc and T-Cross, is experiencing a very strong expansion but does not really install, in terms of design, the imagination in  power.  Rather than betting on the lowest common denominator and tight prices, the Puma has developed an opposite approach.  It displays a fairly distinctive stylistic identity and prices (from 22,900 euros) which do not really place it in the category of cheap purchases.  Ford has embraced the old adage that price is forgotten but quality remains.

 Developed on the Fiesta platform, this model measures 4.19 m which makes it a less bulky vehicle than the recent Nissan Juke (4.21 m), Renault Captur (4.23 m) or Peugeot 2008 (4  , 30 m).  Packed and, as it should be, high on wheels, the new Ford displays something turbulent with its very horizontal hood, its headlights stuck at the top of the wings and its gaping grille.  The lines are simple and curved, the toned silhouette, the reduced glass surfaces.  Designing an SUV with the false air of an enhanced coupé is certainly not very original - it has even become a cream pie - but the stylists of the oval firm have pushed their logic to the end and designed the  Puma with enough ideas to give it a homogeneous look.  It will be appreciated that, unlike Captur, this car tries to prevail overly agreed point lines.  And unlike the 2008, it takes some distance from the unwritten law which requires that any new vehicle is imperatively founded in the sacrosanct "family resemblance" which forges the visual identity of a brand.  The risk, if the mayonnaise were to take, would be that all the Ford try to resemble this model ...

 Welcome sophistication

 Forced to comply with the strict requirements imposed this year in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, Ford got its hands dirty.  All versions planned for the launch of the Puma have so-called "light" hybridization in the form of an 11.5 kW alternator-starter combined with a 48-volt battery.  This brings additional torque to the three-cylinder EcoBoost turbocharged engine with one liter of displacement (available in 125 or 155 hp) during acceleration phases.  According to the manufacturer, this small electric motor can reduce average consumption by 10%, evaluated from 5.4 liters per 100 km according to the WLTP standard in force as of March.  This minimum electrification will allow passing under the radar of the ecological penalty.  Other delicate touches: stop the engine below 15 km / h and deactivate one of the three cylinders when it does not need to operate at full load.  More accessible, non-hybrid variants will be offered later, in petrol as in diesel.

 Aboard the 155hp version, the tone generated by the micro-hybrid system is palpable as soon as you step on the accelerator pedal.  Light, the Puma is very lively to drive despite the slightly high center of gravity imposed by the architecture of an SUV.  This quest for dynamism seems to have imposed, in return, fairly firm ground links.  The new rear suspensions do not help to place this model - at least in this configuration of 155 hp - among the most padded in its category.  It's a deliberate choice, the kind of approach that the manufacturer has rarely accustomed us to.

 Relatively habitable despite its limited proportions, the Puma makes a commendable effort in terms of equipment and presentation by installing digital instrumentation including, on the best equipped versions, a 12.3-inch screen under the driver's eyes and another  , touchscreen, 8 inches in the center of the dashboard.  This staging as well as the cutting of the interior furniture and the materials that decorate the cabin do not make the Puma a model of creativity but bring it a welcome touch of sophistication.  Finally, the large trunk (402 liters) has the particularity of sheltering in its lower part an additional compartment called MegaBox of more than thirty centimeters in height.  It has a drain plug so that it can be cleaned with water.  Passing the congenital shyness of Ford to the pressure washer, this is also the bet that the Puma tries.