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Ford has created a high-rise version of the ever-popular Fiesta. A new Puma enters a crowded compact SUV/Crossover market with hybrid technology and an ace card – space.

Its incredible use of space in the luggage compartment will leave many rivals green with envy.

There has long been criticism that in this segment of the market boot space has been squeezed to accommodate cabin occupants. The latest arrival, however, has a real answer, a MegaBox, boot.

The new Ford Puma, which is in showrooms this month, tees off with the boast that even with hybrid battery power concealed behind the rear seats and in the 400-litre boot area, there is still a huge amount of space – enough for two golf bags to be stacked vertically or enough suitcases for a large family holiday. There is even a plug hole to flush out a lower plastic compartment. There will be even more space (456 litres) when the boot area is reconfigured later in this year.

So Ford is off to a good start as the trendy SUV-style driving is high on the wish list of the outdoor/weekender/young family brigade, and increasingly the grey brigade.

The raised ride height gives drivers a more confident, better view while all on board will give a big “Yes” vote for the ease of entry and exit for younger and older limbs, thanks to the extra seat height.

The new model is higher, longer and wider than a Fiesta. Visual appearance in the showroom and stance on the road can be a deal maker or breaker, and Puma designers can take credit for a sporty creation that looks more substantial than the design of the compact dimensions.

Power comes from Ford’s six-time award-winning one-litre EcoBoost 125bhp petrol engine running in conjunction with a mild hybrid 48 volt power unit to aid engine power functions and adds up to 50Nm of torque assistance. Ford claims the combination will give 10pc more fuel economy in city driving.

The Puma is fun to drive, with sharp handling up to the standards of the much-applauded Focus and Fiesta and a strong feelgood factor on corners, despite the extra weight and height.

Ford boss in Ireland John Manning plans a two-pronged approach to the SUV/Crossover market with Puma petrol expected to do well in urban areas and the EcoSport doing well in rural markets with a diesel power plant. The Puma will be priced marginally higher than the EcoSport with an array of features such as FordPass which warns of hazards on the road ahead before they become visible.

Rivals include big-hitters like the Nissan Juke, Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008 and a raft of other models.

The Puma is one of 14 electrified vehicles which will be introduced by Ford worldwide by the end of the year.

The company aims to have 50pc of its fleet to be electrified – full EV or hybrid, in the next few years.

Prices start at €24,465 for the entry level Titanium version which comes with 17in alloy wheels, auto high beam, Pre-Collision Assist, FordPass Connect modem, navigation, keyless start, air conditioning, wireless charging, cruise control with speed limiter and massage driver and passenger seats.

The ST-Line (€26,065) adds a sporty body kit, cornering fog lights, a 12.3in digital cluster and a flat bottom steering wheel, while the top spec ST-Line X at €27,865 adds 18in black’ alloys, 8″ Touchscreen, B&O sound system, partial leather seats and privacy glass.

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