Ford Puma is back as a kitten-size crossover
1 July 2019 - Autoblog
It's more of an EcoSport than a sports coupe
Back in the late '90s and early 2000s, Ford built a really neat-looking little Fiesta-based coupe called the Puma. That car wasn't sold in the United States, even if its ad campaign memorably featured the late actor Steve McQueen digitally inserted behind the wheel of a Puma, the car taking the place of the Highland Green Mustang in Bullitt's driving scenes for the duration of the advert. It was all well and good, and only premature rust has worked to erase the original Puma from the hearts and minds of European driving enthusiasts. Until now, that is.
The Puma will be reborn as a crossover "coupe" in the near future, according to Ford. Apart from the headlight shape, there aren't really any design similarities to the '90s original, but the new car occupies the same segment — the small coupe segment is now the small crossover coupe segment, obviously. Ford will be building the new Fiesta-based Puma at the same factory as the aging EcoSport, the Craiova plant in Romania that originally used to churn out charming budget versions of the Citroën Visa called the Oltcit. But that's another economy-car history lesson.
While the original Puma made do with some sweet-revving 1.4 and 1.7-liter Zetec four-cylinders, the latter producing 125 hp, the new car features a more modern, downsized 1.0-liter turbo unit with a belt-driven, 11.5kW mild hybrid starter/generator companion that gives it a similar 125hp and in more powerful guise, 155hp. And while the '90s Puma coupe wasn't a packaging wonder, the great height and deep trunk floor of the new Puma affords it more cargo room, as it incorporates what Ford calls a MegaBox. That's an underfloor storage solution with a drain plug, and at least the name is fantastically '90s.
U.S. availability of the new Puma isn't on the table yet, but it would probably fit the U.S. model portfolio rather well, maybe even better than the Fiesta.
Perhaps Ford should have saved the EcoSport name for this car instead, as it might suit the design and engineering principles better. Re-using the Puma name has a similar effect as Mitsubishi naming its recently introduced crossover the Eclipse Cross.