It’s a time of mourning. As of July 2023, the Ford Fiesta is no more. So, what does that mean for the world of small(ish) Fords? Well, you can still have a Ford Focus, but that’s due to be canned in 2025, and there’s also the Puma.
The crossover Puma’s been on the go since 2019 and in its crosshairs are the Skoda Kamiq, Volkswagen T-Cross and Renault Captur. The original 1990s Puma was interesting, and after spending a week with the new one, my thoughts shifted positively.
My first question was: “Why Puma?”, but DNA from the original coupe still exists here — especially in the new car’s face. Scratchy plastics are aplenty in the cabin, but nice touches such as fabric-trimmed door cards and physical heater controls make you quickly forget about that.
On the road, it feels just like a Fiesta and that’s because it is essentially one underneath. In our local town, filled with narrow streets and difficult parking bays, the Puma’s tight turning circle made going to the shops less of a chore, which was important on the run-up to Christmas. The Puma had excellent front and side visibility, but rear visibility could be better.
Hyundai invited me to drive some of its newest cars in Edinburgh — a 57-mile round trip of mostly motorways and a bit of town driving. You may be surprised, but the 125bhp 1.0-litre Ecoboost did remarkably well and at no point was I frustrated with its pickup. On the twisties, the Puma springs to life, and with my test car being the Titanium, it soaked up potholes well.
Peering at the instrument cluster upon arriving at the Hyundai event revealed 51.3mpg — the fuel tank was still full. It’s not like I had everything off and was using a towel to demist the windows every five minutes; I had the thermal nuclear heated seat and the heated steering wheel on, and the cabin temperature set to 21 degrees. The reason I say “thermal nuclear” is because I truly believe Ford has installed two small reactors under both front seats. It’s not just this model, but every new Ford model I’ve driven so far. Setting “one” is couthy, setting “two” could easily defrost a frozen turkey in under five minutes — I’m sure of it, and setting “three”? Ensure you have a bucket of ice on board and life insurance in place.
Overall, the Puma is impressive. The fact that Ford has catered for a large audience shows that it’s taken seriously. If you like a car that handles well but doesn’t attempt to dislodge your spine over some of Britain’s potholes, buy the Titanium. And before you judge its name, get one out for a drive as your perception may just change.