Will Ford’s updated small SUV come up to scratch in the battle with Nissan’s Juke, Renault’s Captur and all the others?
The Ford Puma is being treated to a mid-life refresh that brings a few exterior tweaks and a major cabin overhaul with improved levels of tech.
The demise of the Ford Fiesta means that the Puma has to appeal to buyers of superminis like the Toyota Yaris, as well as baby-SUV customers who might otherwise be considering a Nissan Juke. Fresh arrivals in the market, such as Citroen’s forthcoming C3, promise crossover styling with aggressive prices that may undercut the Ford’s, too.
From the outside, the new Puma looks all but identical to the car that revived the nameplate when it was launched in 2019. The front end has the latest take on Ford’s badge, plus all-new headlights that incorporate a fresh daytime-running light signature. There are trim-level variations too, with Titanium models featuring a dechromed front grille, and ST-Line versions getting a more aggressive front bumper.
The other main exterior changes are a refreshed range of colours, including the Cactus Grey of the car in these images.
It’s inside where Ford has spent the most money on its best seller. There’s an all-new dashboard layout that’s designed to be less cluttered than before, with a wraparound effect, slim-line air vents and a new two-spoke steering wheel design.
This focus on a cleaner look does mean that the Puma follows the trend of losing physical switches and placing controls for key functions onto the central touchscreen. To help cope with this, the Puma gets a pair of displays that are considerably larger than before. The digital instrument panel now measures 12.8 inches across – and can be customised to prioritise a driver’s preferred information – while the infotainment display is a 12-inch panel. This runs Ford’s SYNC 4 software, with faster processing than the current Puma’s SYNC 3 set-up, plus a machine-learning algorithm.
Other highlights of the car’s refreshed cabin include ambient lighting, an acoustic laminated windscreen, an optional panoramic glass roof, and synthetic-leather upholstery on the seats, steering wheel and armrest – with different colours of stitching, depending on the trim level. The Puma’s drainable boot-mounted MegaBox remains, meanwhile – a notable selling point for Ford’s contender in a crowded class.
Under the bonnet, the company has rationalised the Puma’s powertrain line-up slightly. At its core is a 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost petrol engine assisted by a 48-volt mild-hybrid starter-generator. The lower-powered option is available with either a six-speed manual gearbox or Ford’s seven-speed dual-clutch auto, while the more potent unit is automatic only.
The top of the range is being thinned out too, as the highly rated Puma ST loses its 1.5-litre engine and, crucially, the option of a manual gearbox. Instead, the performance model will be offered only with a mild-hybrid version of the 1.0 EcoBoost engine and the seven-speed dual-clutch auto transmission. It also gets a Ford Performance splitter that boosts front-end downforce, along with bespoke ST front grilles, and the option of a contrasting gloss-black finish for the roof.
Ford hasn’t commented on why the hotter of the current ST options has been dropped, although it’s believed to be due to the sales mix of the pre-facelift model.
The revisions also bring new safety kit; the Puma now gets Intersection Assist (which watches the road ahead for potential collisions with pedestrians and cyclists), Reverse Brake Assist (which can stop the car from being reversed into static objects), and Rear Cross Traffic Braking, which does the same if it detects people or other vehicles moving across the rear of the car.
Many of the Puma’s competitors are available with a choice of petrol or pure-electric power. Ford will try to address that issue by launching the Puma Gen-E later this year. It’s expected to share a battery pack with the electric version of the recently launched Tourneo Courier.
Ford is taking orders for the revised Puma now, with first deliveries expected in early summer. Full specs and prices have yet to be released, but the entry-level Titanium 125PS Manual will cost from £25,790 – just £150 more than the equivalent current model.