A Puma is a mountain lion that weighs in around 50-100kgs and can run at up to 80km/h. It’s a secretive cat that is also more commonly known as a Cougar. Ford New Zealand’s Kuga used to be another name for the Escape and the Ford Puma used to be a sports car – Confused much?
Puma is a new nameplate for Ford’s lineup of SUVs, but it’s not a new name for the brand. In fact, just as the late 1990’s rolled over to the noughties, Puma was the name of a small ‘sports car’ that to me actually looks more like their Ka. Anyway, two decades later and Puma now sits in bold 3D lettering on the back of an all-new compact SUV.
My review model was the current top of the line ST-Line in Desert Island blue and as such came with all the bells and whistles but I’ll get to that in a moment. The Puma itself crouches on the Fiesta platform, which (having driven the Fiesta ST), I know is a beaut. The nose features the Ford family grille and oval blue badge, ‘canoe’ shaped headlights that have awesome ‘wing’ DRLs and some nice angles to surround the fog lamps and lower air curtains.
The compact crossover’s profile showcases enlarged wheel arches that cover it’s 17-inch alloy feet, door mirrors with puddle lights that mimic the instrument cluster’s graphics pattern, doors that hug the sils to ensure you don’t get your trousers (or skirt) dirty on entry, a ‘floating’ A-pillar and sloping roofline that leads to the rear where it’s greeted by a roofline spoiler, LED tail lights, the aforementioned PUMA lettering and a kicker tailgate.
The luggage space is multi level and even with the seats up will accommodate 410L of stuff and I’m reliably informed that the space below can actually hold water – although I’m not quite sure why.
The Puma is powered by a 1L, 3 cylinder ecoboost engine that produces 92kW of power, and 170Nm of torque, it sips fuel at a rate of 5.3L/100km and emits CO2 at a mere 121g/km. Sure it’s not electric at the moment, but those figures are darn good.
The fun and games continue on the inside with this FWD, four door compact having space enough to carry four adults (five at a pinch) and sooo much tech that you wonder how they made room.
The Puma ST-Line will happily park itself, which although it’s not a big vehicle, is still a big tick in the plus column. It has a 8” infotainment screen that comes with Sync 3, Apple and Android connectivity, Fordpass connected and a 10-speaker B&O stereo. What’s more, it has a 12” LCD instrument cluster that sports a puma on switch on, displays all manner of data and changes colour and scenery when changing drive modes (for which there are 5).
The Ford’s furniture is comfortable and in my case, came with red contrast stitching and in fact the finishing and trim throughout exceeds expectations. It has hill assist, lane keep assist, blind spot alert, AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, active grille shutter – do you need me to go on?
I had driven the new Ford Puma before so I did know what to expect from this plucky little tearaway, especially on tarmac, its front wheel drive and traction control system gives it the feel and confidence of a much bigger vehicle, however there’s plenty of give in the sports-tuned suspension to absorb the lumps and bumps that come with unsealed roads too – that was a pleasant surprise. There’s a good weight to the leather clad steering wheel and ample pick up under acceleration with the 7-speed transmission performing well under load.
The new Ford Puma is a great addition to the NZ small SUV/Crossover market. Its FWD offers a fun and involving time behind the wheel and the ST-Line comes simply fully loaded and that includes 20,000km service intervals and 5-year unlimited warranty.