Well, at least that's one mystery cleared up. Last year we told you Ford had trademarked the Puma name in Australia and now we know why, with the company unveiling a new compact crossover at its future-looking 'Go Further' event in Amsterdam yesterday.
Actually, unveiling is going a bit strong: the car was driven across the stage behind the sort of laser-and-dry-ice display last seen in low-rent '80s pop videos, and the company has released just a single image to hint at what the finished car will looks like.
While it is set to be Europe only from launch we're told that there are aspirations to take it further afield, with the registration of the trademarks in Australia and New Zealand a broad hint that it might ultimately replace the unloved Ecosport.
Above: The current overseas Fiesta range includes a lightly jacked-up Active model not expected to make it to Australia.
Detail is light at this point. We know the finished car will be on sale in Europe later this year and will be built at the Craiova plant in Romania. It sits on the same platform as the current European Fiesta – a significant upgrade when compared to the far older-tech underpinnings of the Ecosport – although overall dimensions are similar; at 4.2 metres overall, the Puma is just 10cm longer.
Power will come from a range of engines mostly shared with the Fiesta (and remember we're only getting the Fiesta ST here), but Ford has also confirmed that the Puma will be offered with a new 48 Volt mild hybrid system. This will use a belt-driven starter-generator in conjunction with the familiar 1.0-liter three-cylinder Ecoboost engine to produce a peak output of 115kW; we're told that around 11kW of this will come from the electric side of the powertrain.
Above: the new Ford Escape (AKA Kuga in Europe), revealed today, will clearly share much of its styling cues with the new Puma
The Fiesta underpinnings mean it will be front-drive only at launch, but Ford execs said there was no technical reason it couldn't also be offered with the punchy 150kW 1.5-liter Ecoboost that does duty in the Fiesta ST.
Ford has previously sold a model called Puma, a Fiesta-based coupe that was offered in Europe between 1997 and 2002. In choosing to repurpose the moniker for a crossover the company seems to be following the example set by Mitsubishi with the Eclipse Sport.
We will get to see the full car in June, and will tell you about any future Australian sales plans as soon as we hear them.