Years ago, before the SUV and CUV markets exploded in popularity, Ford’s humble Puma prowled the roads as a two door version of the Europe only Fiesta subcompact. While it wasn’t the most powerful offering around at the time, that feisty feline earned a solid reputation for its ability to be a tossable companion on twisty roads, and even spawned the limited edition (and outright insane) Puma Racing. But reflecting on changing times, Ford has followed up on a brief teaser campaign , and has officially rebooted the Puma moniker for 2020 in a way that should please a new generation of buyers.
When we say reboot, we truly mean it, with the Puma adopting a diffrent mission in life for its 2020 return. There is still a generous amount of Fiesta DNA in its bones, but instead of another two door coupe, the Puma embraces the role of a compact CUV. While the jury is still out on whether this radical change in role will hurt the Puma’s reputation with loyalists, the styling here is very handsome to behold.
The shape itself is not that surprising, with the basic profile being shared with Ford’s other CUV entries. However the Puma works with its source material very well, and features a more rounded front fascia that looks very happy to see the world. The rear fascia is more athletic, and incorporates sleek taillights into the design. Ride height is lifted a bit over the Fiesta, but buyers familiar with that model will be right at home in the Puma. The Puma will initially be avalible in either Titanium or ST-Line guises, with lesser trims arriving later. As such, we will hold our judgements on this kitty’s style until we see the broader Puma range, as well as more of the official color palette.
The interior of the Puma is also very reminiscent of the Fiesta, with much of the cabin design being carried over from that model until you get to the rear quarters. Here, the Puma’s CUV dimensions allow it to offer more space than the Fiesta, with the Puma bringing 16.1 cubic feet of cargo capacity to buyers. The rectangular drop down section in the rear can be configured for a wide range of functions, and even comes equipped with a drain hole to help make cleanup easier. The removable floor is stored behond the rear seats, but buyers can also keep it in place, and fold the rear seats down to make the Puma function more like a traditional hatchback.
Along with its enhanced functionality, the Puma also comes jam packed with state of the art technology. In addition to expected goodies like active cruise control, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and lane keep assist, the Puma also features Ford’s CoPilot360 limited autonomus system. This feature allows the CUV to have autonomus capabilities when in stop and go traffic, with the Puma being one of the first entries in the segment to get such a feature.
A wide view rear mounted camera offers a 180 degree view of its surroundings, with Ford claiming that its the first time such a feature has been offered in the Puma’s segment. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are also avalible at no charge, and it helps drive home the Puma’s tech focused push towards young millenials. An 8.0 inch touchscreen infotainment system commands everything, and another 12.3 inch screen is used for the instrument cluster. A 10 speaker premium audio system is the range topping stereo, and select trims even come with massaging seats (remember back when that was limited to flagship luxury cars?)
Performance for the 2020 Puma comes from a 1.0 liter turbocharged three cylinder that is hooked up with a 48-volt mild hybrid system. Like some recent CUV offerings, performance figures depend on the tune that is baked into the powertrain, with the base setup making a rather paltry 123 horsepower. Step up to the ST-Line model and you are rewarded with a stronger 153 horsepower version of the powertrain. A diesel engine is rumored to be on the way, but regardless of which engine it is equipped with, all Pumas will be front-wheel drive only, with no all-wheel drive alternative available. This is an interesting omission, but with its decidedly on-road mission, we will give it a pass in this particular regard.
When the Puma does eventually arrive in European showrooms, it will face a whole plethora of competitors including the Hyundai Venue, as well as comparable entries from Peugeot and Renault. In addition, it will also face a lot of internal competition from many of its corporate cousins out on the lot. With Ford’s recent all-in bet on drastically increasing its SUV and CUV stable, it has resulted in a very crowded family that includes the slightly bigger EcoSport, the Fiesta and Focus Active models, as well as the revamped Ford Kuga (AKA the 2020 Escape here in the U.S.)
For the moment, the Romanian built Puma is not making the trip across the pond to the U.S. but we suspect that might change in the next few years. With Ford embarking on an equally aggressive expansion effort in the U.S. market, the Puma could eventually appear to not only give the Blue Oval a Venue fighter, but it would also try and not make some of the same mistakes that the tepid selling and late to the party Ford EcoSport made when it first arrived on our shores. In the meantime, Ford has released a brief video highlighting the Puma’s arrival which can be seen below.
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