- The Ford Puma is an upcoming subcompact crossover built on the platform of the Europe-market Fiesta.
- For now, the Puma is for Europe only, but we suspect it's being seriously considered for the United States.
- The Puma's platform will be a significant upgrade from that of the Ford EcoSport, but it will also be front-wheel drive only.
UPDATE 6/25/19: Ford has teased the Puma yet again, this time on Twitter, and says that it will debut tomorrow, June 26. This reveal will be of the Europe-market version of the Puma, but we may get a better idea of possible U.S. plans for this new crossover model.
Ford is betting its future on SUVs-lots of SUVs. Many of the next generation will be successors to familiar models, like the Escape that was announced earlier this week. But others are going to be trying to find new niches, with the forthcoming Puma (seen here in a teaser image) being charged with slotting into the tight gap between the EcoSport and the Escape.
The Puma was shown only shown briefly at a Ford Go Further event in Amsterdam, and the company has released a single image of the car on stage behind a smoke-and-laser display that a 1980s nightclub would have been proud of. From the limited glimpses we had of the car on stage, its side profile and rear bear a passing resemblance to the Mini Countryman.
The production version, which will be built at the Craiova plant in Romania, will be on sale later this year. Initially the Puma will only be available in Europe. A U.S. Ford spokesman told C/D, "There are currently no plans to bring the new Ford Puma to North America," but we're told that some senior Ford managers are already lobbying enthusiastically for it to be brought to the States.
Underneath, the Puma sits on the same platform as the current Europe-market Fiesta, representing a significant upgrade over the much older underpinnings of the unloved EcoSport. Power will come from a similar range of engines, with Ford confirming it will be offering a mild-hybrid unit that will combine the brand's familiar 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost with a belt-driven 48-volt integrated starter/generator to provide a peak output of 155 horsepower, with the electrical side of the powertrain contributing around 15 horsepower.
Despite its dinky looks, overall length will be approximately 165.3 inches, about four inches longer than the EcoSport. Ford promises a spacious and innovative interior that can be easily configured to accommodate different combinations of passengers and luggage; the Puma is also set to effectively replace the brand's compact B-Max minivan in Europe.
Despite its rugged looks, the Puma's underpinnings mean that it will be front-wheel drive only, although Ford confirms there will be no technical reason why it could not also be offered with the 197-hp EcoBoost turbocharged 1.5-liter inline-three that impressed us in the Europe-market Fiesta ST that we drove last year.
If the name "Puma" seems familiar, then congratulate yourself for your knowledge of obscure non-native Ford products. The first Puma was a stylish Fiesta-based coupe sold in Europe between 1997 and 2002; it was marketed with a Bullitt-themed TV ad that used digital trickery to put Steve McQueen in it. In reusing the name for a crossover, Ford is following the example of Mitsubishi and the Eclipse Cross.
While Ford's existing lineup is already SUV heavy-and is about to be considerably more so as the brand phases out conventional sedans and hatches-the EcoSport looks like the weakest link, sitting at the bottom of the hierarchy. The Puma, or something closely related to it, could be the vehicle to solve that problem.
This article was originally published in April 2019.
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