After the recent launch event showcasing the Ford Puma EcoBoost Titanium and ST-line Vignale in Cape Town, we got our hands on the Puma ST-line, a long-term addition to our vehicle fleet.
Its first challenge: a trip to the Eastern Cape during the holiday season, navigating rough roads laden with potholes, all while returning in one piece.
Distance covered: 3 348 km
Average fuel consumption: 7.2 L/100 km
Driver: Siyavuya Mbaduli
We like: High-quality materials and ideal dimensions for a compact crossover
We don’t like: High asking price
Sporting a striking Desert Island Blue finish, coupled with 18-inch 5×2-spoke alloy wheels, our Puma catches the eye with its Unique ST-Line body colour front and rear bumpers featuring a diffuser, rear spoiler, and an ST-Line badge, distinguishing it from the Titanium variant. Inside, the cabin boasts a minimalist and practical design, housing a modern 8.0-inch infotainment system, leather seats, and manual controls for the infotainment, driving modes, and climate system.
The addition of carbon fibre accents on the dashboard adds a touch of sophistication. The manually adjustable driver and front passenger seats, equipped with a lumbar massage function, proved to be a comfort on the lengthy journey to the Eastern Cape. However, one noticeable absence is the lack of a footrest for the driver’s left leg in the footwell. Setting it apart further from the Titanium variant is the Panoramic sunroof, complete with an internal sunblind, offering extra shade when the sunroof is open.
To cater to varying driving conditions, the Puma presents five available drive modes, enabling customization for different performance aspects – Normal, Sport, Trail, Slippery, and Eco settings. These modes alter multiple vehicle settings, including throttle response, steering feel, and gear-change behaviour, offering flexibility on the road.
Confronted by the challenge of fuel efficiency on the long stretches between destinations, the Eco mode emerged as a saviour. This mode smartly adjusted the vehicle’s parameters, moderating throttle response and gear changes to conserve fuel, this compromised the vehicle’s performance as expected but it was a small price to pay compared to money physically leaving my pocket over the long journey.
Related: Review: Ford Puma
As the winding roads beckoned and the scenery transformed, it was time to get acquainted with Sport mode which altered the personality of the Ford SUV. The throttle response became sharper, the steering more responsive, and the gear changes more dynamic.
Powering the Puma is Ford’s well-regarded 1.0-litre, three-cylinder EcoBoost engine, coupled with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, delivering a modest 92 kW and 170 N.m of torque to the front wheels. Surprisingly, despite its size, the engine offers a smooth and composed drive, without the usual small-engine strains. The best fuel consumption figure reached was 7.2L/100 km/h, with potential for further improvement.
In the competitive landscape, the Puma stands as a contender against models like the VW T-Roc, Hyundai Kona, T-Cross, and Renault Captur. It appeals to a niche seeking something distinct. Ford enthusiasts who appreciated the Fiesta, EcoSport, or Kuga could find common elements in this vehicle, with the Puma drawing some key winning elements from these models.
The Ford Puma in South Africa seems poised to carve its path in the compact crossover market, catering to those seeking a unique yet familiar offering. It amalgamates the best elements from various Ford vehicles, sparking anticipation for its future endeavours. We’re eager to witness the Ford Puma’s journey in South Africa, especially as it finds its place in our garage, becoming an integral part of our daily drives and experiences for several months.
For anyone considering prospective road trip plans this year, the N2 route from Cape Town to the Eastern Cape unfolded as a visual delight. Highlights included exploring Knysna on the Garden Route, enjoying panoramic views at Sir Lowry’s Pass, and taking in stunning views from the Horseshoe Bend lookout near Mossel Bay. The Outeniqua Pass revealed the charm of the Garden Route, while Storms River Mouth showcased dramatic cliffs and a glimpse of Tsitsikamma National Park. From mountains to coast, the journey offered a condensed yet captivating visual adventure. The Ford Puma emerged as the perfect companion, seamlessly complementing the diverse landscapes and enhancing the overall experience of the picturesque journey.