2019 Ford Puma SUV: price, specs and release date

Fiesta-based SUV will challenge the Volkswagen T-Cross with sporty handling, roominess and mild hybrid engine...

2019 Ford Puma front three quarter
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Darren Moss
26 Jun 2019 07:00

On sale: Late 2019 | Price from: £20,000 (est)

Will a Ford Puma in any other form smell as sweet? If you’ll forgive us for torturing the bard’s words, that’s a question Ford is about to answer. 

You see, the original Puma was launched in 1997 as a three-door coupé based on the best-selling Fiesta hatchback. And with its funky looks and fun driving style, it was very good indeed. In fact, it won our Coupé of the Year Award back in 1998. It lasted only until 2002, however, when it was quietly retired and the Puma badge was stored away in the archives. Now, though, the Puma is back – but not as you knew it.

Instead, this new Puma is an SUV. It has roughly the same footprint as the Fiesta (still the UK’s favourite new car), because it uses the same underpinnings. And if you’re thinking that Ford already sells an SUV of this size in the form of the Ecosport, you aren’t wrong; the Puma is intended as a sportier, more style-led alternative to that model. 

2019 Ford Puma rear three quarter

2019 Ford Puma space and practicality

It should still be practical, though, because with a 456-litre boot, it outclasses both the Seat Arona and the class-leading Volkswagen T-Cross. For reference, Ford’s Focus family hatchback has just 370 litres. 

So, a weekend away should prove no trouble. And if you do need more space, you can fold down the 40/60-split rear seats. Also, the boot floor can be positioned at one of three heights, and beneath it you’ll find a separate 80-litre box that Ford says can be used for storing dirty sports gear or your Wellington boots, thanks to a drainage plug. The Puma is even available with a hands-free tailgate, making it easier for you to load big items.

2019 Ford Puma interior

2019 Ford Puma engines

Earlier this year, Ford announced that every new car it would launch from then on would receive some form of electrification, and so the Puma offers mild hybrid engines. This isn’t a proper hybrid system, because it doesn’t allow the car to drive solely on electric power. Instead, it captures energy normally lost under braking and feeds it into a 48-volt lithium ion battery to provide an extra boost for the engine. It adds as much as 37lb ft of pulling power, letting you accelerate off the line more quickly or overtake more easily on the motorway, all while improving fuel economy by around 9%.

The mild hybrid system is added to Ford’s proven 1.0-litre three-cylinder Ecoboost petrol engine, which you can have with 123bhp or 153bhp. It’s the lower-powered version we’re likely to favour; this gets official fuel economy of 52.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 123g/km yet should offer all the performance you’ll need.

This efficiency is partly thanks to cylinder deactivation, which means the engine can run on just two of its cylinders when you’re cruising, thus using less fuel. Versions of the 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine will also be sold with this feature but without mild hybrid assistance.

A diesel – likely the same 118bhp 1.5-litre engine used by the larger Focus – will join the range later, as will a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Initially, every version of the Puma will be fitted with a six-speed manual.

The Fiesta and Focus are some of the best cars in their respective classes to drive, so the former should make a very good starting point for the Puma. Even so, it has been given stiffer suspension and larger shock absorbers in an effort to deliver class-leading handling.

2019 Ford Puma boot

2019 Ford Puma interior

The Puma’s interior is certainly an upgrade over the Fiesta’s, thanks largely to the addition of a new 12.3in digital instrument display. Similar to what’s available in the T-Cross and Arona, this can put the most relevant information, including the sat-nav map and directions, directly in front of the driver.

Alongside it, atop the dashboard, sits an 8.0in touchscreen running Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system. This offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, a wi-fi hotspot for up to 10 devices and all the features you’d expect, such as a DAB radio, Bluetooth and sat-nav. Plus, music lovers can order a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo. It’s worth noting, however, that we haven’t been impressed by Sync 3 in other Fords, because the touchscreen can be slow to react to inputs and its smaller icons are hard to hit while you’re driving.

Other features on the Puma include massaging front seats – with three intensity settings – and removable, machine-washable seat covers. The slim front seats are designed to give those in the rear maximum leg room – an area in which the Ecosport is soundly beaten by its key rivals. There’s also an opening panoramic roof, a wireless charging pad for smartphones and two USB ports. 

Available driver assistance technologies include adaptive cruise control, blindspot monitoring, lane-keeping assistance, traffic sign recognition and an automatic emergency braking system that can detect pedestrians. There’s also a 180deg rear-view camera that should make getting in and out of parking spaces that bit easier – or if you’d rather find a spot and then ask the Puma to park itself, it can do that, too.

Go for the Titanium trim level and you’ll get 18in alloy wheels, chrome surrounding the front grille and leather and wood-look trim pieces inside. Sporty ST-Line gets you 18in or 19in alloys, even sportier suspension and various exterior changes intended to create a more aggressive look. Puma buyers will be able to choose from 11 paint colours.

2019 Ford Puma rear seats

2019 Ford Puma price

At launch, the Puma will be priced from about £24,000, making it a pricey choice in the small SUV market. Expect cheaper Style and Zetec trim levels to follow before long, though; these should push the entry point below £20,000, making the Puma more competitive next to the T-Cross, Arona and Renault Captur. And don’t forget the all-new Nissan Juke, which is expected to arrive later this year. 

As an example of the Target Price discounts you might expect to get on the Puma before long, What Car?’s New Car Buying service can today save you up to £1915 on the Ecosport.

2019 Ford Puma digital display

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The most (and least) reliable small SUVs

If the idea of the Ford Puma has got you thinking about a new small SUV, then you'll want to pick one that's reliable. And that's where this next story can help, because we've used the results of the annual What Car? Reliability Survey to decide which small SUVs are the most reliable, and which are more trouble than they're worth.

Here's our round-up of the best and worst small SUVs aged one to four years old.

Audi Q2

10. Audi Q2

Score 91.0%

Nearly a third (29%) of Q2 owners said their car had suffered a fault, with the most commonly reported problems concerning the brakes and braking system. There were also issues with non-engine electrical systems, and a small percentage of owners told us about problems with engines, gearboxes and interior trim.

More than half of cars could still be driven and were fixed in less than a week and most repairs were done for free under warranty. 

See our full Audi Q2 review

See how much you could save on an Audi Q2

Mazda CX-3

9. Mazda CX-3

Score 91.5%

Slightly more (32%) CX-3s had a problem, and nearly a quarter of all complaints were about the air conditioning. A small percentage of owners also told us about issues with the engine, fuel system and suspension. Virtually all cars could still be driven, most were back on the road in less than a week and all were fixed under warranty. 

Used Vauxhall Mokka X 16-present

8. Vauxhall Mokka X diesel

Score 92.3%

Almost 27% of diesel-engined Mokka Xs had a fault, according to owners, and two areas were the most frequently cited: the engine and bodywork. A smaller percentage of respondents mentioned problems with engine electrics and the wheels and tyres. Most cars remained driveable and were fixed the same day and all work was carried out under warranty. 

See our full Vauxhall Mokka X review

See how much you could save on a Vauxhall Mokka X

Next - more small SUV reliability scores > 

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