The new Ford Puma on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Ford Puma ST Line X on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the new Ford Puma!

The Ford Puma arrives in Ireland debuting on-trend mild hybrid technology in an equally fashionable SUV-inspired crossover. Highlights include a new digital instrument cluster, innovative MegaBox for more practicality, and of course some very feline good looks! Engines at launch include petrol and diesel, with a high performance Ford Puma ST expected. The Puma range is on sale now from your local Ford dealer priced from €24,835. Earlier in 2020, I had the opportunity to experience the new Puma for the first time on a memorable road test around Ronda, Spain. Now I bring you my full Irish review of the new Ford Puma at the height of an Irish summer!

The Ford Puma has been one of the hottest new releases of 2020. We have had to wait a long time for an on-trend, B-segment crossover from Ford. The wait is finally over and the Puma pounced at the beginning of 2020. Not only does the Puma debut a cool crossover look but it also heralds the arrival of mild hybrid technology to the Ford range, another hot trend for 2020. Look at you Ford!

So was the new Ford Puma worth the wait?

Ford in Ireland has built itself upon the popular Fiesta and Focus hatchbacks, and in later years the Kuga SUV. Ford’s MPV range including the S-Max and Galaxy are still sought after by large families. But MPVs are no longer the lucrative venture they once were. These days everybody wants an SUV. Ford responded with the well-received Kuga, but the more compact EcoSport was less successful. Ford has moved in the right direction again with crossover-styled Fiesta Active and Focus Active derivatives that sport tough exterior body cladding and elevated ride height.

So now enter the Puma. Ford pitches Puma as an SUV-inspired compact crossover. It is based on the Fiesta with some technical modifications, but it has a visual identity all of its own. And what an identity it is. This car is a fantastic piece of design. It uses the Puma name last seen on a small 2-seat sports coupé back in the 1990s. But it’s not a homage to that car. It’s a smart new move and this Puma will bring Ford to a whole new generation. The Puma has tonnes of attitude in those large headlamps, and muscular body inspired by the powerful big cat it is named after. It’s sporty and sexy, two words that don’t always come easy when you are describing a B-segment crossover. But the Puma is the real deal.

The 2020 Ford Puma combines the trend for compact crossovers with the one for mild hybrid
The Ford Puma combines the trend for compact crossovers with the one for mild hybrid

What’s the Puma range in Ireland?

With pricing starting from €24,835, the Puma does carry a premium over a Fiesta for example, and even an entry level Focus. But the appeal here is clear and Ford Ireland is skipping base spec models. That means that you get a well-equipped Puma Titanium from €24,835 with an on-point 1.0-litre EcoBoost mild hybrid petrol engine. This car comes equipped with 17-inch machined alloy wheels, LED projector headlamps with auto high beam, pre-collision assist, 8-inch SYNC with navigation and FordPass Connect modem, keyless start, electronic air conditioning, massage driver and passenger seats, ambient lighting, wireless charging, and cruise control with adjustable speed limiter.

Or you can rev up with a sportier looking Puma ST Line from €26,141 or the added extras of the ST Line X from €27,917. I really love the look of the ST Line car with a more aggressive body kit, large rear spoiler, and ST-Line sports exhaust. Inside there is a smart new 12.3-inch digital cluster, dark sports headliner, flat-bottom steering wheel, and alloy pedals and gear knob. The ST-Line X (model tested) adds 18-inch alloy wheels, B&O Play sound system, partial leather sports trim, and rear privacy glass.

There is also a top of the range ST Line X Vignale now available from €29,134 in Ireland with even more luxurious features.

Inside the new Ford Puma
Inside the 2020 Ford Puma

What’s under that bonnet?

In Ireland the range is very simple with a choice of petrol or diesel engine. The petrol engine is Ford’s highly acclaimed 1.0-litre EcoBoost now incorporating mild hybrid technology to make the car more fuel efficient and give more powerful and responsive performance. The Puma’s EcoBoost Hybrid technology combines a small electric motor with a 48 volt battery and provides additional support to the petrol engine when needed.

This engine has a healthy 125 hp and it’s so smart it also features Ford’s industry-first cylinder deactivation system for a three-cylinder engine, which automatically switches off one of the engine’s cylinders when full capacity is not needed, such as when coasting or cruising. Irish buyers can get this engine with a 6-speed manual or 7-speed automatic gearbox.

There is also a 1.5-litre diesel with 120 hp, with pricing starting from €26,976.

There’s also a hot Ford Puma ST performance SUV expected later in 2020 in the same vein as high performance Fiesta ST and Focus ST hatchbacks. Exciting!

The Ford Puma Titanium kicks off the range at €24,835
The Ford Puma Titanium kicks off the range at €24,835

Driving the 2020 Ford Puma

The Puma uses the Fiesta platform but has a wider track and some other modifications. A new, stiffer twist-beam rear suspension, larger shock absorbers, stiffer suspension bushes and optimised suspension top mounts reduce friction and enhance stiffness throughout the chassis to ensure the Puma handles better than competitors! The Puma is exciting to drive. You notice it immediately behind the wheel. Everything just feels that little bit tighter and more athletic than rivals. It comes alive in fast cornering, backed up by nicely weighted steering that offers more engagement than most. The small car underpinnings and ST Line firmer sport suspension mean that a Ford Focus is more comfortable, but a Puma is cooler.

My test car was powered by the 1.0-litre Ecoboost Hybrid mHEV. I’ve always been a fan of the 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine as it brings out the best in Ford’s dynamic driving cars. It’s no different here. It’s a lively engine that goes happily about its business. Performance figures are nothing exceptional but it is a pleasant mate for the Puma. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 6.0/100 km with a mix of urban, motorway and country roads.

Driving modes also come as standard with Sport, Normal, Eco, Trail and Slippery. It gives drivers some extra options though the car performs fine in Normal mode. Sport mode gives a bit more throttle response for example, for overtaking manoeuvres.

Inside the Puma

The Puma takes its interior mostly from the Fiesta. It’s nothing too dramatic or stylish but it does have some nice features. There is a really attractive new digital instrument panel for the driver and that’s standard from the ST Line trim. An 8″ touchscreen comes as standard across the range with Android Auto and Apple Car Play.

Remember it’s based on the Fiesta platform, but is roomier inside with more headroom and legroom in the back. The rear bench however will best be left to two people. The Puma has a good sized boot for this class with over 400 litres available and the added boon of the MegaBox. This innovative feature offers 80 litres of space in the boot floor, making it ideal for carrying tall items for example – such as houseplants or golf clubs (!) – in an upright position. Alternatively you could put the lid across and stow away dirty sports equipment or muddy footwear. A neat feature is a plughole in the bottom of the MegaBox so you can easily clean it out with water!

The innovative new Ford MegaBox
The innovative new Ford MegaBox

Did you like it?

The arrival of the Puma begins an onslaught of electrified Fords on the way to Ireland. The Ford Kuga plug-in hybrid is also new in dealers this summer, and Focus and Fiesta mild hybrids will follow. The exciting new all-electric Mustang Mach-e will be another high profile release with expected pricing kicking off in the region of €50,000.

Clearly I love the new Ford Puma. I’ve driven a lot of compact crossovers and they all have their best bits. But the Ford Puma expertly fills the need for a good-looking, fun and sporty compact crossover wearing the Ford badge. Ford is raising the game when it comes to design and driving dynamics. Embracing electrification is essential not to be left behind in a fast-paced industry. The Puma stands out now in the Ford range for its strong visual identity and fun image, along with the latest technology and digital features.

On price Ford Ireland appears to be positioning this car against upmarket models like the Peugeot 2008 and Volkswagen T-Cross. This is sophisticated company indeed to pounce upon, but Puma bites back with style and fun in spades. It’s a jungle out there but this Puma can wear its badge with pride!

The Ford Puma is now one of the most desirable cars in the Ford line-up
The Ford Puma is now one of the most desirable cars in the Ford line-up

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Ford Puma ST Line X 1.0 mHEV
Price: 
€27,917 (from €24,835)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
125 hp
Torque: 170 Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.8 seconds
Top speed: 191 km/h
Fuel economy (WLTP): 5.4l/100km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 127g/100km
Motor Tax: €270 per year