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July 1, 2019

Is the All-New Ford Puma a Preview of the 2020 EcoSport SUV?

For “Kids of the 90’s,” they’ll remember a sporty coupe called the Puma. Sold in Europe by Ford, the Puma was basically the Fiesta in a sexier dress. Introduced in 1997, it was discontinued five years later. Well, 17 years later, the Puma is back, but this time it dismisses its sporty coupe lineage to become Ford’s newest baby crossover.

Before dismissing the move as a sacrilegious one, now would be a good time to remember that Mitsubishi did the same thing with the Eclipse. Moving on, the new Puma rides on the Fiesta’s sub-compact platform, and is designed to be sold alongside its current European SUV range—the Fiesta Active (yup, it’s such a thing), EcoSport, Edge, Kuga (aka Escape), and Explorer.

Ford says the Puma bucks the current trend of wedge-style crossovers. With its “anti-wedge” design, it bears a strong resemblance to more organically-designed crossovers like the Mazda CX-3. The “canoe-shaped” headlights offer the same lighting signature as the Ford GT, while wheel choices start from 17 to 19-inch rims.

Inside, the Puma is said to have Ford’s human-centric design (where have we heard that before) and has features like massaging front seats, a full-length panoramic sunroof, wireless charging for smartphones, and even a 10-speaker B&O sound system. In front of the driver, it has a fully-configurable 12.3-inch instrument cluster, too.

Single-handedly though, the Puma’s claim to fame is its cargo capacity. It claims to have the segment’s largest cargo carrying capacity at 456 liters, enabling it to accommodate a box measuring 1,125 mm long, 970 mm wide, and 430 mm in height with the second-row folded down. And with the so-called Ford Megabox, it can store dirty items separately and can be hosed down and cleaned easily with the synthetic lining and drain plug.

Powering the Puma is the 1.0-liter EcoBoost making 125 horsepower. The bigger news though is the availability of a mild-hybrid system adding 30 more horsepower, pushing the total output to 155 horsepower and 240 Nm. A diesel variant will soon follow. Currently, the Puma is only available with a 6-speed manual, but a 7-speed dual clutch automatic will also be made available.

Ford has also optimized the Fiesta platform but gifting the Puma with a stiffer twist-beam rear suspension, larger shock absorbers, stiffer suspension, and optimized suspension top mounts.

Now, the most important bit: will the Puma replace the EcoSport?

At this point, it’s a tossup. On one hand, Ford may continue to leverage its global supply change and choose to manufacture the Puma at its joint-venture facility with Changan in China (where the current EcoSport is being made). However, they can also opt to develop a small SUV specifically for development markets, like the one reportedly being made with the help of Mahindra. Regardless, the most likely replacement date for the EcoSport is 2020 at the earliest.

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