First Drive Ford Puma: from sports coupé to crossover SUV
Every OEM wants a piece of the growing B SUV pie, but how do you stand out from the crowd? By doing something the rest isn't: cross-breed with a coupé and give it a name that rings a bell.
Ford already has a small SUV in the B segment: the EcoSport. But that model plays in a different league altogether. You could say it is Ford's 'budget' approach, a quick-win featuring low-cost technological solutions. Result: the leaders of the segment, like the Nissan Juke, Peugeot 2008, VW T-Cross and Renault Captur, never really felt threatened. With the all-new Fiesta-based Puma, they should.
More than once, we heard people say it kind of looks like a half-sized Porsche Cayenne or Macan. It's hard not to see that as a big compliment for the designers.
As far as technology is concerned, three engines in the Puma range are interesting for fleets. The first one is the 1.5 TDCI 120bhp EcoBlue diesel version that is to be launched later this year, the second and third are two mild hybrid-derivatives of Ford’s one-litre, three-cylinder EcoBoost engine. Featuring a 48Volt architecture, Ford’s hybridisation consists of a belt-driven starter-generator (BISG) of 11,5kW that delivers up to 50Nm of additional torque and decreases fuel consumption by up to 9% and regenerates a 48Volt lithium-ion battery when decelerating or braking. Make no mistake, this is not a fully-fledged hybrid like a Toyota: the car can never drive on battery power alone.
The one-litre mild hybrid exists in two versions, the first delivering 125bhp and 170Nm of torque, while the second one peaks at 155bhp and 190Nm of torque. Thanks to the hybridisation and – as a premiere for a three-cylinder engine – cylinder deactivation technology, Ford announces WLTP CO2 emission values from 124g/km (5,4l/100 km) for the 125bhp-version and 126g/km and 5,5l/100 km for the more powerful edition. For now, only a (very good) six-speed manual gearbox is available, later this year a seven speed automatic with double clutch will complete the range.
During our test of the 125bhp-version, we found that the engine delivers its power in a swift and linear manner, all the while being very quiet at steady revs and producing that typical and pleasant three-cylinder hum when flooring the accelerator pedal. The sprint from 0 to 100km/h takes 9.8 seconds and the top speed of 191km/h is more than sufficient. With a fuel consumption of 6,3l/100km driving on Spanish mountain roads, the Puma proves to be a sensible partner for fleet customers. In our opinion, there is no real need for the additional 30bhp of the more powerful version, but if you have the means, why not…
As for technological safety equipment, Ford aims high. The Puma comes with selectable drive modes (Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery, Trail), Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go (on the 7-Speed automatic), Speed Sign Recognition, Lane Centering, Local Hazard Information, Ford’s Blind Spot Information System, Active Park Assist, Auto High Beam, Road Edge Detection, Pre- and Post-collision (braking) Assist, Evasive Steering Assist and Wrong Way Alert. An impressive array of technology for a B-segment crossover.
Practicality and equipment
Customers will certainly appreciate the practicality of the new Puma. Based on the Fiesta-platform, but with 14.6cm added in length of which 9.5 are integrated in the wheelbase, there is plenty of room for four occupants, and most of all, it is the boot of the Puma that impresses.
In that boot, which can be opened without using your hands, Ford introduces an adaptive rear parcel shelf that is not fixed to the backseats but raises with the tailgate. Even more special than the normal boot is what sits underneath its removable floor, where Ford’s MegaBox, a supplementary lower load compartment, provides an impressive 80 extra litres of storage space, making it possible to house items of up to 115cm tall if needed. And when the MegaBox gets dirty, you can easily rinse it with water and empty it using the drain plug in the bottom. In total, the Puma boot can contain 456 litres. A real asset.
Ford doesn’t offer a real base version of the Puma. With a German list price of €19,500 excluding VAT for the 125bhp mild-hybrid Titanium model, the Puma is not exactly cheap, but at least it comes with lots of goodies. The only thing that disappoints is the hard plastic used for the inside of the rear doors. We would also have appreciated a map display in the instrument cluster. If you can live with that, the Puma is a great alternative to the eternal C-segment hatchback that make up the majority of corporate car parks.
- Technological equipment for the segment
- Efficient one-litre mild hybrid, low CO2 numbers
- Large and practical boot
- No navigation map in the digital driver display
- Some hard interior plastics
- No real entry-level model
Competitors: VW T-Cross, Renault Captur, Nissan Juke, Mazda CX-3, Skoda Kamiq, Peugeot 2008, Citroën C3 Aircross, Seat Arona.