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Ford Puma: Athletic SUV will arrive in Australia mid-2020

John Law

The word Puma might mean a few things to you – trainers for one – but it’s also a Ford nameplate, one that first adorned an elegant compact coupe in 1997 and is now perched on the boot-lid of a compact crossover.

On sale in Europe now, Ford has confirmed the athletic Puma for Australia in the second half 2020, where it will almost certainly be a hit. Though it won’t be without challenge, nestling into an ever-swelling class that includes the Volkswagen T-Roc, excellent Mazda CX-30 and Hyundai Kona.

Here’s a quick recap on the original Puma, it was a small coupe that emerged in 1997 when a two-door sports car was the must-have vehicle. Sadly that market dwindled in the early 00s, the stylish coupe was axed by 2001.

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However, the Puma will be remembered fondly by enthusiasts, so it’s understandable there was some backlash from Ford fans when the new car emerged as a soft-roader to replace the rather uncool EcoSport.

But look back to the original Puma, a car to fill a sports-compact-sized niche. The new Puma simply swaps to compact-SUV.

Visual impressions are positive with that highly distinctive front end with Fiesta DNA in the grille and fog-lights, but those buggy headlights are almost throw back to the coupe from 1997. Although it may not strictly be a beautiful design, there’s no doubting the Puma has an identity of its own.

2020 Ford Puma - 1

The interior is more subdued with a centrally-mounted touch screen adorning a simple dash, it looks as though the number of materials has been kept to a minimum, too.

There is currently a single one-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost engine available with two states of tune, the base being 93kW/210Nm which Australia will likely do without and the punchier 115kW/240Nm tune we’re more likely to receive. Details will be confirmed closer to launch.

A 48-volt mild-hybrid system will be employed to cut the Puma’s fuel consumption.

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Naturally, a six-speed manual is offered in Europe, whether that will make it here remains to be seen but it’s likely that the seven-speed dual-clutch alternative will be the buyer’s choice.

Three trim levels of Puma are offered in the UK starting with the Titanium that gets 17-inch alloy wheels, black plastic body-cladding, rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera, auto-headlights, 8-inch touchscreen, cloth-appointed seats with massage function, cruise control and lane-keep assist.

Moving upwards the ST-Line boasts a more athletic suspension tune, different 17-inch alloys, a rear wing, aluminium gear-knob, painted body-cladding, leather-appointed handbrake and smart-looking 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.

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The range-topping ST-Line X looks great with larger 18-inch wheels, a premium B&O sound system and partial leather seats. Please note these specification levels don’t necessarily indicate what will arrive later this year.

Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 system will be available on the new Puma; the suite includes lane-centring, park assist, blind-spot monitoring, high-speed AEB, rear cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control.

Pricing is yet to be confirmed for Australia, but in the UK the base Titanium starts at £20,845 ($40,150 at the current rate), with range-topping ST-Line X from £22,895 ($44,100 at the current rate). Not an inexpensive crossover, but we await for full pricing and specification details closer to launch.

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We do not doubt that the Puma is a more stylish vehicle than the EcoSport it replaces, and with the Australian buyer’s penchant for compact SUVs, we reckon the Puma might just be a hit. Of course, that all hinges on how it drives which we’ll find out later this year.