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When the Ford Puma, in its latest guise, came on the scene it was an instant hit; by the way this name has been used on various models from the company. As I have discovered on a number of occasions, when behind the wheel of a Puma it always produced a rewarding drive, a very responsive small vehicle which provided the all important fun drive.

Ford recently revealed the new Puma ST Powershift, with the most powerful version of the award-winning one litre EcoBoost engine. Using 48 volt mild hybrid technology to deliver up to 170 PS and 248 Nm peak torque, this little gem is combined with a paddle-shift-operable, seven-speed, dual-clutch Ford Powershift transmission which delivers energised driving experiences and everyday usability. The Powershift benefits from the same active exhaust valve technology as Puma ST for increased performance and a distinctive ST engine note under acceleration. Controlled by the selectable Drive Modes, the active exhaust valve remains closed in Normal and Eco modes for everyday refinement, but opens in Sport mode to intensify the sporty sound. In fully automatic mode, the dual-clutch gearbox provides smooth-shifting, effortless convenience and comfort, particularly stop-start traffic and helps to keep the mild hybrid powertrain at the optimum rpm for efficiency. For exploiting the engine’s performance, triple downshifts enable faster overtaking when you request maximum acceleration. With Sport Drive Mode engaged, the transmission also holds lower gears for longer, for sportier responses and steering wheel paddle shifters allow manual control of shift points for full driver engagement. Powershift also enables Stop & Go functionality for the available Adaptive Cruise Control, which can bring the vehicle to a complete halt in stop-start traffic and automatically pull away if the stopping duration is less than three seconds, or resume after three seconds with the touch of a button or the accelerator and the transmission also enables a Remote Start function via the FordPass app.

Looking at performance, rest to 100kph (62mph) in 7.4 seconds and a CO2 figure at 144 g/km. The new powertrain is ideal with the optimised chassis of the 1.5 litre EcoBoost Puma ST, including bespoke twist-beam and anti-roll bar settings, and patented force vectoring springs. Yet to drive this newcomer if it is as good as the ST which I tested then there will be many smiles on a lot of faces.

Styling, and this little number gets a thumbs up from me; a Ford Performance-embossed splitter integrated into the front bumper not only makes the Puma ST Powershift’s sports credentials clear, but also increases front end downforce by almost 80 per cent versus the standard Puma. A large rear roof spoiler and distinctive rear diffuser also feature, while signature ST upper and lower front grilles are designed to maximise engine cooling capability and efficiency. With the arrival of this latest addition to the Puma family a new ST-exclusive Azura Blue signature colour among six exterior paint options, complemented by an available gloss black finish for the roof and standard black grille surrounds, side spears, door mirror caps and rear roof spoiler, the SUV also offers a Magnetite finish on the standard 19 inch alloy wheels. No prizes for guessing, a sports style interior standard highlights include Ford Performance-developed sports seats finished in premium Sensico synthetic leather-effect material, a wireless charging pad, Quickclear heated windscreen, front and rear parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers, FordPass Connect modem, and Ford’s SYNC 3 communications and entertainment system, compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Available driver assistance technologies include Pre-Collision Assist with Active Braking, Active Park Assist, Cross Traffic Alert with Active Braking, and Intelligent Speed Limiter.

On the practical side the newcomer retains full Puma space and practicality, offering 456 litres of load space with the rear seats in place as well as the innovative Ford MegaBox that provides an 80 litre storage space beneath the boot floor, capable of comfortably accommodating two golf bags in an upright position.

Yet another welcome sporty addition to the Ford line-up.

Ian lynas