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RAY MASSEY: Ford’s Puma is still wild at heart

 Ford’s nimble new Puma is the cat’s whiskers — and appears to have as many feline lives. I can vouch for this thanks to its brilliant safety system which, faced with a car stopping abruptly ahead, began slamming on the breaks just as my foot went for the pedal.

The Puma name derives from an original and much-loved Ford super-mini from 1997-2001. The reborn Puma, built in Romania, is now a compact SUV and will be a rival to the Nissan Juke, Audi Q2 and Peugeot 2008.

Its elevated seating position gives good all-round visibility. It’s easy and comfortable to drive, and well-balanced, too.

Cool cat: Ford's new safety-conscious Puma is a great choice for active families

Cool cat: Ford's new safety-conscious Puma is a great choice for active families

Cool cat: Ford’s new safety-conscious Puma is a great choice for active families

My drive was in a 1.0-litre, mild-hybrid, 125 hp, six-speed manual that accelerates from rest to 62 mph in 9.8 seconds (with a top speed of 119 mph).

Middle range acceleration was particularly handy. Average fuel consumption is 55.4 mpg. CO2 emissions are just 96g/km. The base price of my car in Titanium trim is £21,640, the cheapest in the range.

But mine is fitted with extras including heated seats and steering wheel, rear privacy glass and driver assistance with emergency pre-emptive braking — all of which take the price to £23,740.

The reborn Puma, built in Romania, is now a compact SUV and will be a rival to the Nissan Juke, Audi Q2 and Peugeot 2008

The reborn Puma, built in Romania, is now a compact SUV and will be a rival to the Nissan Juke, Audi Q2 and Peugeot 2008

The reborn Puma, built in Romania, is now a compact SUV and will be a rival to the Nissan Juke, Audi Q2 and Peugeot 2008

Also on offer is a 1.0-litre EcoBoost without the mild hybrid but with a seven-speed automatic gearbox. 

Or you could go for a more powerful 155 hp version. This achieves zero to 62 mph in 8.9 seconds, with a top speed of 127 mph.

There are three trims: Titanium, ST-Line and ST-Line X. The top spec car is the ST-Line X Vignale at £25,240. One of Puma’s biggest selling points is the boot. 

There are three trims: Titanium, ST-Line and ST-Line X. The top spec car is the ST-Line X Vignale at £25,240. One of Puma’s biggest selling points is the boot

There are three trims: Titanium, ST-Line and ST-Line X. The top spec car is the ST-Line X Vignale at £25,240. One of Puma’s biggest selling points is the boot

There are three trims: Titanium, ST-Line and ST-Line X. The top spec car is the ST-Line X Vignale at £25,240. One of Puma’s biggest selling points is the boot

With the second row of seats folded flat, the rear compartment expands to 456 litres. 

But lift up the three-position adjustable lid and underneath is an 80 litre space. You can easily fit two sets of golf clubs or a folding bicycle.

The new Puma was crowned Car of the Year and best small SUV in this year’s ‘What Car?’ awards, praised for its stylish looks, practicality, sharp handling and ‘gutsy’ engine.

  • Think petrol-electric hybrid cars are a modern invention? Skoda, celebrating its 125th anniversary, built one in 1908 with the help of the engineer behind Prague’s electric tram system. Three decades later, in 1938, Skoda produced an all-electric truck to deliver beer from the brewery in Pilsen to the city’s bars. 
Skoda's hybrid from 1908. Three decades later, in 1938, Skoda produced an all-electric truck to deliver beer from the brewery in Pilsen to the city’s bars

Skoda's hybrid from 1908. Three decades later, in 1938, Skoda produced an all-electric truck to deliver beer from the brewery in Pilsen to the city’s bars

Skoda’s hybrid from 1908. Three decades later, in 1938, Skoda produced an all-electric truck to deliver beer from the brewery in Pilsen to the city’s bars

Citroen’s C4 Coupe’s classic good looks

I do like the look of Citroen’s new C4 coupe-like crossover hatchback. The sweeping interior is a smart take on Citroen saloons of yore. 

Citroen's new C4 coupe will sell from about £19,000 with a pure electric E-C4 version from under £30,000, after a plug-in car grant

Citroen's new C4 coupe will sell from about £19,000 with a pure electric E-C4 version from under £30,000, after a plug-in car grant

Citroen’s new C4 coupe will sell from about £19,000 with a pure electric E-C4 version from under £30,000, after a plug-in car grant

Expect prices from about £19,000 with a pure electric E-C4 version from under £30,000, after a plug-in car grant.

  • Electric cars will be easier to spot after the Government announced this week that it is to give them a ‘green flash’ on their number plates.

Range Rover turns 50

It was launched in 1970 when Mungo Jerry’s In The Summertime was No 1. 

And over five decades, it has been loved by the Queen and driven by customers as diverse as ex-footballer David Beckham, entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, the comedian James Corden and even James Bond. 

Golden jubilee: Over the years, more than 1.2 million Range Rovers have been sold. And it has won the Paris-Dakar rally twice; in its inaugural year of 1979 and again in 1981

Golden jubilee: Over the years, more than 1.2 million Range Rovers have been sold. And it has won the Paris-Dakar rally twice; in its inaugural year of 1979 and again in 1981

Golden jubilee: Over the years, more than 1.2 million Range Rovers have been sold. And it has won the Paris-Dakar rally twice; in its inaugural year of 1979 and again in 1981

Now, Range Rover’s 50th anniversary is being marked by a limited-run Range Rover Fifty, which will be kept to 1,970 vehicles globally and will cost about £100,000 each.

Over the years, more than 1.2 million have been sold. And it has won the Paris-Dakar rally twice; in its inaugural year of 1979 and again in 1981. 

The anniversary comes, however, as Jaguar Land Rover has recorded an annual £422 million loss and shed 1,100 agency jobs as a result of Covid-19.

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