Once upon a time, the Ford Puma prowled the streets of Europe as a small, smartly styled front-wheel-coupe. Now, the moniker returns – again for the European theater – as a small, smartly styled compact crossover. That may or may not impress fans of the original runabout, but it is certainly a sign-of-the-times in which we live. And with Ford’s current design language in full effect inside and out, it’s arguably not without some swagger.
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Speaking of which, there are no major surprises in the Puma’s compact crossover shape. Ford previewed the runabout earlier this year, and there’s no mistaking its connection to the new Euro-market Fiesta. Both vehicles share underpinnings, and there’s plenty of Fiesta styling in the profile. The Puma gets a rounder, happier front clip and of course the ride height is up just a bit, but anyone comfortable with the current Fiesta will probably be at home in the Puma. At launch, it will be offered in either Titanium trim or ST-Line, the latter obviously adopting the more sporty appearance.
Moving inside, the interior is Fiesta-familiar until you get to the rear. The Puma crossover proportions offer a bit more space in the boot – 456 liters (16.1 cubic feet) all total with the trick lower boot floor removed and the rear seats still up. This rectangular drop-down section beneath the floor in the Puma’s backside has multiple configurations, and it features a drain hole for easy cleanup. The floor stows behind the seatbacks for maximum space, or the Puma can function as a typical hatchback with the flat floor in-place and the rear seats folded. It may not be a suave compact coupe, but this new Puma does have some rather convenient features.
Speaking of which, Ford packs the Puma with plenty of available technology. Aside from the expected tidbits such as active cruise control, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, and lane-keep assist, the Puma is available with Ford’s CoPilot360 limited autonomous system that can operate in stop-and-go traffic. A wide-view rear camera offers a 180-degree look of the surroundings – a feature that Ford says is a first for this segment – and both Andriod Auto and Apple CarPlay are offered at no charge. Everything is commanded through an 8-inch central touchscreen, with another 12.3-inch digital screen used for the instrument cluster. A 10-speaker stereo is the range-topping sound system, and you can even get massaging seats
The Puma’s power comes from a 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder hooked together with a 48-volt mild hybrid system. The mill allows for stop-start functionality and will be offered in either 123-horsepower (92-kilowatt) or 153-hp (114 kW) flavor. A diesel option is said to be coming further down the road, but regardless of the engine, all power goes just to the front wheels. No all-wheel-drive option is available.
All in all, it doesn’t sound too bad for a compact crossover, but this segment is not without competition from allside, not the least of which comes from Ford’s own lineup. The Puma joins an already-crowded Blue Oval Euro crossover family that includes the compact EcoSport and Fiesta Active, not to mention the Focus Active and Kuga which are marginally larger. As for coming to the United States, it’s not in the cards for the moment, but with Ford going SUV crazy on all fronts, seeing the Puma stateside at some point in the next couple years wouldn’t be a surprise.
For now, Ford says the Romanian-built Puma will go on sale in Europe by the end of the year. Pricing information will come closer to the Puma’s on-sale date.