With the Ford Fiesta discontinued in 2023, that puts more pressure on the Puma crossover to carry the torch of the defunct supermini. The hatchback on stilts is Ford’s best-selling passenger car in Europe. For 2024, it’s getting a mid-cycle update.
The subcompact crossover has barely changed on the outside, although Ford tells us those headlights with a claw-like signature now employ matrix LED technology. The discreetly updated badge has transitioned to the front grille. We’re not noticing any changes at the rear, but customers can pick from six colors – including the new Cactus Gray – and several wheels varying from 17 to 19 inches.
Open the doors and you’ll be greeted by a projection of the Puma logo on the ground. The cabin is substantially different with the new Sync 4 infotainment installed. The dashboard accommodates a pair of screens while the center air vents have been moved at the top to make room for the 12.0-inch touchscreen. To its left, the 12.8-inch digital instrument cluster is no longer fully integrated into the dash.
Ford is simplifying the engine lineup since the Puma is no longer available in Europe with a four-cylinder 1.5-liter diesel engine. In addition, the high-performance ST model loses its turbocharged 1.5-liter gasoline engine and six-speed manual gearbox. Going forward, the sporty one will be available with the smaller 1.0-liter unit and a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission.
It’s a substantial downgrade considering the full-fat Puma ST used to have 197 horsepower and 320 Newton-meters (236 pound-feet) of torque. The neutered version – launched nearly a year ago – makes do with just 168 hp and 248 Nm (183 lb-ft). The mild-hybrid engine enables a 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) run in 7.4 seconds, or 0.7 seconds slower than the defunct version equipped with the bigger 1.5-liter engine. Flat out, it can do 130 mph (210 km/h).
The non-ST Puma models are also getting a turbo 1.0-liter engine with either 123 hp and 210 Nm (154 lb-ft) or 153 hp and 240 Nm (176 lb-ft). The lesser version of the three-pot can be had with a six-speed manual gearbox, in which case the sprint is completed in 9.8 seconds. Opt for the seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic and the run is completed in 9.6 seconds. The more potent variant of the tiny EcoBoost engine is auto-only and helps the stylish crossover reach 62 mph (100 km/h) in 8.7 seconds.
As promised back in 2022, Ford will also be launching a fully electric Puma Gen-E. It’s coming later this year and should look just about the same since it’ll inherit the platform from the gasoline-fueled model. The EV will be built alongside the regular variants at the company’s factory in Craiova, Romania.