Is the Ford Puma just too expensive?

  • Puma Titanium: R569 900
  • Puma ST-Line Vignale: R613 900

I never start a review with the pricing, but you will see why I have.

I have read a couple of reviews on the new Ford Puma from fellow motoring journalists and all I can say is that they are all playing it very safe. The reason I say this is that while talking to many at the recent launch, they appeared gobsmacked by the price. But in their writing, they seem to be telling a very different story. Well, I am going to be honest with you. The Puma is expensive. All cars are. But it is justified?

This is not to say it is not a great product. In fact, I quite adore it. And I will go in to more detail about this little froggy-looking guy in a minute. But I loved it when I didn’t know how much it cost. I just don’t think the price is justified on any level. It is just not enough car for that amount of money. It is, after all, a 1.0 crossover. And it has some very stiff competition that trumps it in price, and badge. Think Volkswagen T-Roc (although overseas it appropriately competes with a T-Cross), Audi Q2, Hyundai Kona, Toyota CH-R and even the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross.

So what is the Puma? Well, it is a very exciting offering from Ford who, for some time, has not been playing in this segment of the market. The now discontinued EcoSport was your only real option from Ford. The Puma, although you wouldn’t necessarily tell by looking at pictures of it, is bigger than the EcoSport. The rear leg- and headroom is a bit cramped for taller adults, but the boot makes up for it. It sits at 456-litres and it has two levels. It also has a nifty ‘Megabox’ feature which is a waterproof compartment under the floor that has a drainage plug. Throw all your muddy stuff in there and hose it down. Not that you’ll be taking this car off road, mind you, it is front-wheel drive.

Where Ford makes up for its price, or tries to at least, is with standard spec. You’ve got two options, the Titanium or the ST Line Vignale. Both are generously specced with the Titanium boasting an eight-inch touchscreen with Sync3, two USB ports, a wireless charging pad, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (albeit not wireless).

The ST Line Vignale adds leather seats which will also massage you if you so choose, a 10-speaker B&O audio system, an electric tailgate and digital instrument cluster. If it is a sunroof you’re after, though, you’ll be coughing up more money for it in the form of the ST Line Styling Pack. This will also get you an electrically adjustable driver seat. There are a host of standard safety features such as hill launch assist, lane-keeping aid, six airbags, pre-collision assist and auto high beam assist. But if it is adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, front parking sensors, a reverse-view camera, active park assist or a driver-impairment monitor you’re after, you will again have to cough up for the Driver Assistance Pack. And don’t forget that a service plan is not standard either.

The Puma is powered by a 1.0-litre 3-cylinder turbopetrol engine mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. It produces 92 kW and 170 N.m of torque. This tried and tested engine is nippy as hell and really great around urban areas. It is also great on the highway. It is quiet and refined. The fuel consumption is claimed at 5.3l/100 km but you are likely to see higher readings. I averaged around 6.2//100 km, which is still low enough for my liking. The only downside is perhaps the ride quality which is ever so slightly firm, especially on the bigger tyres on the ST Line Vignale model, but I doubt it will bother most customers.

So here’s the dilemma, right? It is a fantastic little product. It doesn’t really have many faults. But the fact remains that in this current market, pricing is probably your most important thing. With Chinese car brands flooding our market with value you just can’t deny, something like the Puma doesn’t make sense. And the argument that this is a different customer no longer rings true anymore. More and more customers are becoming price sensitive. South African’s are veering away from the image conscious buyers they once were to a more practical buyer who is perhaps using their head and not their heart. I hope that I am wrong because I would like to see a lot of these on the roads because they make me smile, I think of a ‘paddatjie.’ But I fear that I might just be right and people would rather go for a less expensive rival, a more premium rival at a similar price point, or a product that gives you way more car for your money. As I always say, time will tell.

I’m Julz, South African motoring journalist with a passion for cars and a questionable sense of humour. I am not your average motoring journalist, and this is not your average motoring website.

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