Ready for the attack
The name "Puma" was not chosen by accident. About 20 years ago, there was also a Ford Puma. That was a three-door coupé because sporty models were popular back then. The new Puma goes with the current trend and is a "crossover" (passenger car with off-road vehicle influences). Ford chose the name Puma again because it already had the name and because both cars are characterised by headlights on top of the bonnet.
Unlike crossovers from other brands, Ford opts for much smoother lines. This makes the Puma at least as interesting and attractive to look at, without Ford having to resort to extreme lines or extravagant looks.
Space and equipment
Ford, even more than other brands, has bet on practicality. As with most cars of this size, space in the rear is just enough for large adults. Space in the front is fine, noting that the optional panoramic glass roof comes at the great expense of headroom. It is noticeable that the driver's seat is much further adjustable in height than the passenger seat. This is because items that are usually in the boot (tyre repair kit, warning triangle, etc.) can be found under the passenger seat in the Puma. This has two advantages: in emergency situations, they are immediately at hand and it gave the designers the freedom to introduce the so-called "megabox".
The "megabox" is an extra storage space of 80 litres under the floor. This is comparable to, say, two hefty backpacks. This extra cargo space is made of easy-to-clean plastic and has its own drainage channel (useful after transporting wet boots, plants, etc.). The regular boot space has a regular shape (the subwoofer of the audio system is integrated in the side wall), so it can be used to the maximum. The rear shelf is flexible and therefore does not need to be removed when carrying slightly too tall loads. Very special for a car in this segment: the Puma is available with an electrically operated tailgate.
When it comes to equipment, the Puma offers everything that can be expected from a modern car in this price range. The infotainment system is nicely done, with support for Apple Carplay and Android Auto. Instead of a traditional speedometer and tachometer, the Puma has a large display behind the steering wheel. Here, Ford takes full advantage of the possibilities offered by this display: depending on the driving mode chosen (economic, sporty, normal, etc.), the layout is adjusted. Within this, the driver can still opt for more or less information.
The optional, premium B&O audio system sounds significantly better than a standard audio system, but less than premium audio systems from other brands. When it comes to driver assistants, the Puma is modern and safe. If the more luxurious variants are chosen, even features such as seat heating and massage are available.
All new models introduced by Ford in the near future are electric or at least partially electric-powered. As the Puma is one of the most economical new models, the simplest form of electric drive has been chosen: the "mild hybrid". This is a system that converts kinetic energy into electricity during braking and coasting (i.e. not charging from a plug). The engine is automatically switched off when the car comes to a stop and the "free" electricity is then used to restart it when moving off. More importantly, the mild-hybrid can provide a "free" boost in situations where the engine has to work hard.
The mild-hybrid technology is combined with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine that delivers 125 hp / 170 Nm or 155 hp / 190 Nm depending on the chosen version. The difference is in the turbo, compression, the degree of assistance from the electric motor and the engine management.
First, the 155 hp variant was driven. Since the electric motor assists even at low revs, the Puma moves easily. After that, the performance of this strongest engine is disappointing. That's because the shift indicator suggests keeping the revs around 2,000 rpm. Then only little power is available and the engine hums as if the revs are too low; many a driver then intuitively shifts to a lower gear. Only when the throttle is decisively pressed and the revs rise above 3,500 rpm does the Puma show its teeth. Then the Puma is downright eager, quick and even exciting.
The 125 hp Puma has a completely different character. The power is distributed over a much wider rev range, providing more tranquillity and agility. Moreover: when asked for more, even this base variant is lively and quick. Preference is therefore given to the 125 hp version.
On a demanding route (mountains, city traffic and heavy rain), test consumption with the 125 hp Puma came to 6.4 litres per 100 km. The 155 hp version consumed half a litre more per 100 km. Compared to similar cars on a similar course, this is decent, but with hybrid drive, lower fuel consumption should be expected.
Technically, the Puma is based on the Ford Fiesta, yet the Puma feels like a completely different car. This is not only due to the easier entry and higher seat, but also to the feeling behind the steering wheel. The Puma feels a lot bigger and most importantly: wider. This is because the Puma is higher than the Fiesta and to still achieve stable handling, the Puma compensates for the extra height with extra width. In doing so, the Puma feels strong and solid, as if the car was cast from a single block.
Thanks to its strong bodywork, substantial track width, a new steering gear and Ford's handling expertise, the Puma drives superbly. Through the steering wheel, the driver perfectly senses what is going on under the front wheels. At the same time, it is also clear what the car is capable of, which gives a lot of peace of mind. The Puma therefore lends itself as easily to a trip to the supermarket as to an exciting journey through the mountains. For even more adventure, a "trial" mode is available that, despite the lack of four-wheel drive, still lends itself to driving in light terrain.
Ford is putting on the attack and the first feat is the all-new Puma. The Puma is a compact crossover, which means Ford is plunging into one of the busiest segments of the market. Fortunately, the Puma manages to distinguish itself well from its many competitors. The design is attractive and exciting, without getting into extremes. Interior space is average, but thanks to the cleverly designed luggage compartment and "megabox", the Puma is still above average in terms of functionality.
Ford also distinguishes itself by using "mild-hybrid" technology. With this, fuel consumption should be lower and the level of comfort higher, but unfortunately in practice little is noticeable of this electric assistance. The engines have an annoying hum at low revs, which intuitively causes the driver to drive in a lower gear than necessary and therefore consume more. Of the two engines, the 155 hp version is undoubtedly the strongest, but the 125 hp version offers more quietness and smoothness. Handling is undoubtedly the Puma's strongest point: it is outstanding. Not only does the Puma have excellent handling, it also offers above-average driving pleasure. As such, this first attack by Ford is definitely successful.
- Above-average functional
- Modern, complete equipment
- Excellent driving characteristics
- Humming noise at low revs
- Nervous behaviour 155 hp engine
- Effect of mild-hybrid technique low