By Steve Berry
FORD’S new Puma may not be the svelte, compact coupe we all admired back in the 90s.
However, as a sporty-looking compact SUV (sport utility vehicle) it certainly hits the mark.
It introduces a new chapter in Ford’s design identity with distinctive styling cues including wing-top mounted headlamps and a silhouette decidedly un-wedge like and more coupe.
Power is supplied courtesy of Ford’s EcoBoost Hybrid 48-volt technology.
The mild-hybrid powertrain seamlessly integrates electric torque assistance with a low-friction, three-cylinder 1.0 litre EcoBoost petrol engine to deliver up to 155 PS. I suspect though the 125 PS version will be the best-seller.
Advanced driver assistance technologies should go some way to de-stress your driving experience.
Included are: adaptive cruise control with stop & go, speed sign recognition and lane centring as well as the new local hazard information, which can inform the driver of hazardous situations in the road ahead before they become visible to the driver or vehicle sensors.
Puma is also the first vehicle in its class to offer hands-free tailgate and lumbar massage seat comfort.
Available in three models: Titanium, ST-Line and ST-Line X with the Titanium being the comfort model and the others having a sportier feel with slightly stiffer suspension.
Titanium features unique Pearl Grey machined 18-inch alloy wheels, and chrome elements for the grille, side skirts and fog lamps.
The rear diffuser and skid plate are finished in metallic grey, and the window surrounds in high gloss black.
Inside, there is a leather-effect steering wheel, wood-effect appliques for the cluster bezel and instrument panel and distinctive fabric inserts for door interiors.
The Ford Performance-inspired Puma ST-Line is offered with 18-inch standard or 19-inch optional matt black machined alloy wheels and a sports suspension with specially tuned
springs and shock absorbers.
At the front, the ST-Line grille features matt black elements and a high-gloss surround, high-gloss foglamp surrounds, and an optional larger, functional roof-spoiler.
Inside, the Puma ST Line features a flat-bottomed steering wheel and signature red stitching. Alloy pedals, an aluminium gear shifter and signature black headliner further heighten the sporty character.
The new Puma also delivers best-in-class rear luggage space of 456 litres or a whopping 1,216 litres with the rear seats folded flat.
It also includes the Ford Megabox providing a deep, versatile storage space capable of comfortably accommodating two golf bags in an upright position.
Loading the Puma is made even easier with Ford’s hands-free tailgate technology.
The system allows access to the boot space even with arms full of groceries, kids or sports equipment, using a simple kicking motion under the rear bumper.
EcoBoost Hybrid technology enhances Puma’s 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol by enabling recovery and storage of energy, usually lost during braking and coasting, to charge a 48 volt lithium-ion air-cooled battery pack.
This stored energy provides torque assistance during normal driving and acceleration, as well as running the vehicle’s electrical ancillaries.
Offered in 125 PS and 155 PS variants, the intelligent, self-regulating mild-hybrid system continuously monitors how the vehicle is being used to determine when and how intensively to charge the battery for optimal benefit, and when best to utilise the stored battery charge.
Puma’s 125 PS 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine will deliver 131 g/km CO2 emissions and up to 51.4 mpg.
A diesel powertrain option and seven-speed automatic dual-clutch transmission will join the line-up later in the year.
Inside, Puma’s lumbar massage front seats revitalise tired muscles and contribute to more relaxing journeys.
Front and rear seats are offered with removable, washable seat covers depending on Puma variant, which make it easier than ever to keep the interior like new.
Other handy features include a wireless charging pad for recharging smartphones on the move.
Devices can remain connected via Bluetooth to Ford’s SYNC 3 communications and entertainment system while using wireless charging.
This allow Puma drivers to control audio, navigation and connected smartphones using simple voice commands.
The system includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and is supported by an 8-inch central touchscreen operated using pinch and swipe gestures.
FordPass Connect on-board modem technology turns Puma into a mobile WiFi hotspot with connectivity for up to 10 devices.
The system allows a range of convenient features via the FordPass mobile app, including vehicle locator; vehicle status that checks fuel levels, alarm status, oil life and more.
In addition, a 12.3-inch fully-configurable digital instrument cluster allows drivers to personalise and prioritise display of information including driver assistance technology and sat-nav notifications.