New Ford Puma SUV revealed
26 June 2019
Author: Simon Harris
It's a Puma, but not as we remember it. Ford has reinvented the compact sports coupé as a small SUV, with sleek looks and mild hybrid technology.
Ford has been facing up to some home truths in recent months, and is undergoing a restructuring in Europe to help return to profit. It is also trying to catch up with rivals with a renewed focus on SUVs and electrification.
Revealed a few months after the latest Kuga (which will come with a plug-in hybrid), the Puma will be Ford's new compact SUV. While it has the rugged stance of an SUV, the styling is sleeker than you might expect, and the LED signature in the headlamps is straight from the Ford GT supercar.
Of course, we have yet to drive the car, but on paper the interior is perhaps the Puma's trump card. As well as good space and comfort for front and rear occupants, the luggage compartment offers up to 456 litres to window height, and this includes what would otherwise be a spare wheel well. Ford has bitten the bullet and made this a full-time luggage compartment, and box-shaped for better practicality. The puncture repair kit has been moved out of the boot to a storage space under the front passenger seat, to avoid having to unload luggage should a tyre need a temporary repair. It means that with the boot floor and flexible parcel shelf removed, the Puma can accommodate tall items (Ford's people showed it taking two golf bags with clubs) without having to fold down the rear seats. The Puma's boot is 1,000mm across from top to bottom and even the two towers that support the false floor are spring loaded, so can merely be pushed flush with the sides of the luggage area.
Engines and transmissions
From launch, Ford's turbocharged 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine will be the backbone of the line-up. It will be offered with and without fuel-saving mild hybrid technology, thanks to an 11.5kW belt-driven integrated starter/generator (BISG). Replacing the standard alternator, the BISG enables recovery and storage of energy usually lost during braking and coasting to charge a 48V lithium-ion air-cooled battery pack. It can also assist the engine, filling in torque gaps during acceleration and giving performance a boost. Available on both 125hp and 155hp variants, the mild hybrid system also helps reduce CO2 emissions to as low as 123g/km. The Puma will use a six-speed manual transmission at launch, with a seven-speed dual-clutch auto following in 2020, as well as a 1.5-litre diesel engine.
The Puma Titanium has a faux leather steering wheel, wood-effect trim instrument panel, and fabric inserts for the door. The Puma ST-Line has a flat-bottomed steering wheel and signature red stitching - including for the part-leather seats. Alloy pedals, an aluminium gear shifter and signature black headliner are other distinguishing features.
The Puma will offer segment-first massaging front seats, while the driver's seat is also height adjustable. Front and rear seats can be specified with removable, washable seat covers depending on Puma variant, making it easier to deal with spills and stains. A full-length openable glass roof is also available. The Puma can also be specified with a wireless charging pad for compatible smartphones and Ford's Sync 3 voice control system, plus standard Apple Carplay and Android Auto compatibility. The 8in central touchscreen can be operated using pinch and swipe gestures.
FordPass Connect on-board modem technology turns the Puma into a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot with connectivity for up to 10 devices. The system allows a range of features via the FordPass mobile app, including vehicle locator, vehicle status check, remote door lock and unlock, and remote start for models equipped with the seven-speed automatic transmission.
An optional Bang & Olufsen sound system has a subwoofer integrated into the boot without compromising luggage space.
The Puma is also available with a 12.3in configurable digital instrument display.
The Puma has 12 ultrasonic sensors, three radars and two cameras positioned around the car to deliver a suite of Ford Co-Pilot360 technologies that enhance protection, driving and parking.
Automatic versions will be available with the Stop & Go traffic jam assistant, which can automatically keep pace with heavy traffic, and even accelerate again after braking to a stop. Hazard notifications from the cloud, blindspot alert, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, evasive steering assistance and parking assistance are also available.
We haven't seen any guide pricing yet, but expect it to be priced a little higher than the Ecosport. However, overall costs could be lower through better fuel consumption and stronger residual values, making the Puma a more desirable product. Diesel engines will be RDE2-compliant when they arrive in May 2020, so that will eliminate the 4% supplement on company car tax.