Ready to pounce in the Ford Puma

by Petrol Mum

The all-new Ford Puma is based on the same platform as the smallest car in Ford Australia’s range, the Fiesta and it is powered by a 1.0 litre 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, but don’t let this fool you into thinking there is anything diminutive about this cute looking small SUV.

The Puma ST-Line V I recently drove was brimming with technology and featured some things I have never seen before on any other car I have driven. Like how the graphics move when you scroll through the Drive modes or by far my favourite feature was how the outline of the vehicle changed on the driver’s dash changed when I engaged the adaptive cruise control depending what Drive mode I was in. For Sport mode it was an image of the back of a Mustang, for Trail mode it was a Ranger and for the other Drive modes (Normal, Eco and Slippery) it was a Mondeo. I really think this is brilliant marketing on behalf of Ford!

The other really impressive feature on the Puma is the level of safety technology that comes standard across the range. Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, emergency brake assist, forward collision alert, lane keeping aid with lane departure warning and excellent traffic sign recognition are all standard. In addition my ST-Line V Puma also had the optional Park Pack ($1,500) that includes blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control. I immediately felt comfortable with all of these systems and the ANCAP score for the Safety Assist technology on the Puma is 74%.

ANCAP tests of the AEB system showed GOOD performance, with collisions avoided or mitigated in most scenarios. Overall, effectiveness of the AEB system performance in highway speed scenarios was rated as GOOD. ANCAP tests of the Lane Support System functionality showed GOOD performance in lane keep assist tests, however the system does not intervene in more critical emergency lane keeping scenarios and overall performance was classified as ADEQUATE.

The ST-Line V has a standard rear view camera, but in the right hand side of the infotainment screen when you are reversing there is an outline of the vehicle showing the front and rear sensors working. This outline also appears when you are in Drive and approach an object, for example when you are parking.

All Puma models have six airbags for driver and front passenger, front side, front curtain and rear side curtain protection. The ANCAP safety rating for the Puma Range is 5-stars (2019) and the Adult Occupant Protection scored 36.04 points out of 38 (94%) and the Child Occupant Protection scored 42.54 point out of 49 (86%).

When you open the front doors in the dark a puma that is poised to pounce is projected on to the ground in front of you and this sets the tone for your driving experience. I really liked the look and feel of the dash design along with the partial leather trimmed sports seats with contrasting grey stitching of my Puma and they smelled nice too. Both front seats have manual adjustment for recline, height, lumbar and forward/back.

Under the arm rest there was a removable tray and underneath this a slim cubby with a carpet base, a pen holder and one USB-C port. Next to the manual handbrake there are three cup holders, two large and one smaller one in the centre. At the front of the centre console there is a deep storage pocket with wireless charging for compatible devices. Here there is also one USB port and one 12V outlet for phone charging and connection Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which come standard across the range.

The ST-Line V comes standard with a premium B&O PLAY (sister company to Bang & Olufsen) 10 speaker sound system with subwoofer to enjoy your tunes via the AM/FM radio, DAB or Bluetooth. The 8” colour touch screen also has satellite navigation with traffic message channel.

The leather wrapped steering wheel is sporty looking and nice to hold and you can change gears using the small plastic paddle shifters behind the wheel. Like many other car manufacturers, the image used on the voice control button is the silhouette of a masculine face. I found the voice control system works well for setting an address on the sat nav and making phone calls.

The Puma only has a single zone climate control system, but I liked how the buttons were arranged on the dash for you to change what mode the A/C was in. There are no rear air vents for back seat passengers and this is something my children complained about.

The back seats are also comfortable and have just enough head and leg room for me, but are suitable for tween-sized children. There are two ISOFIX/three rear tether child seat restraint points, but in reality there is only enough room for two car seats. Also the sloping nature of the roofline may impede some taller car seats so this should be investigated if you are planning to use the Puma as a family car. There is no central arm rest in the back, but there is a drink bottle storage in the door cubbies.

My Puma was fitted with the optional panoramic sunroof ($2,000) and my children appreciated having their own small sunroof in the back, but I thought the sliding blind for the sunroof should have been a heavier fabric because the opaque fabric used allowed too much of the hot Australian sun through for my liking.

The boot in the Puma would most likely fir a small stroller and the weekly shop with some clever packing and on the ST-Line V it even has gesture open and close. You can also open the boot from the button in the cabin, the key fob or the button under the boot lid. And when you press the button on the boot to close it there is a pleasant chime warning you the boot is closing rather than an annoying beep. The mini spare wheel is located deep down in the boot and this is protected by a hard plastic cover so you could remove the carpet-covered boot floor and carry dirty items in the boot. There are four tie down points, two hooks and one 12V outlet in here and if you need extra space the rear seats have a 40/60 split folding mechanism.

The 1.0 litre engine paired with the 7-speed DCT automatic transmission and sports-tuned suspension on the ST-Line variants and provides a comfortable and enjoyable drive in the Puma. The engine drives the front wheels and produces a modest 92kW and 170Nm of torque. The official combined fuel economy is 5.3L/100km and for my week driving mostly in Sport mode I used 7.1L/100km.

All new Ford vehicles have a five years’ unlimited kilometre warranty and until your vehicle reaches seven years of age, each time a standard service is completed by a participating Ford Dealer, you’ll receive State Auto Club Roadside Assistance and Membership for up to 12 months from the date of the service. Service intervals for the Puma are every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first and using the Ford website I calculated the first five standard services would cost a total of $1,935.

The Ford Puma ST-Line V is one of the most impressive small SUVs I have driven to date. Its combination of a good looking exterior design and pleasant use of materials on the interior plus many standard safety features makes it a small SUV that should be high on your shopping list. Prices for the Puma ST-Line V start at $36,990 drive away and as tested with the Park Pack, Panoramic Sunroof and Prestige paint ($650) my Puma was $41,140 drive away. Visit your preferred Ford dealer to test drive one for yourself.

The driver’s dash graphicsSunroof blind needs to be a thicker fabric
The driver safety aids that come standardNo rear air vents
The interior designMasculine face used on voice control button

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.

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