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Cars Life

Ford Puma – Early Thoughts

I’ve had my brand-new Puma for just 6 days now, so it’s time for me to spill my initial thoughts on ownership. The good, bad and ugly.

Okay, nothing ugly. If I’d bought a car with that level of issues, I clearly hadn’t done my homework first…

The Interior

I went into this fully aware of what to expect. Ford cars are not particularly top level when it comes to fit and quality. I knew this. And the Puma is particularly spartan inside. However, it’s amazing how solid it feels when driving, even if some of the plastic doesn’t when you prod them. The steering wheel is also a delight – softly padded with a really nice feel.

There are no dials in the Puma – it’s just one, large LED screen and looks amazing. You can adjust what information it shows to an extent – the menus you select all share the middle section of the screen and you have to scroll through, using steering wheel controls, for anything other than the default item – and the default isn’t something you can specify either, which is frustrating.

I also like the fact that Ford have decided to add, by default, those extras that you may buy as accessories. For every car there are 2 things I purchase – sill guards and some good quality floor mats. Both came, as standard, with the car.

The boot is incredibly roomy and versatile and the electric opening/closing is fun. My car even has the optional hands-free, so I can simply wave my foot under the rear bumper and it will open and close for me (useful when you have your hands full).

The engine and drive

I’m glad I went for the larger 155 PS engine, as it has much more poke than the 125 PS. It’s eager and whilst never feeling sporty, it’s definitely got enough grunt for everyday use.

The suspension feels so much better than my Mazda, which was well known for having some pretty sub-standard and noisy suspension. This is solid and quiet – even my daughter commented on the smoothness of the ride in her journey in it and I had it in “sport mode” at the time, which tightens this up, making it less supple than usual.

And, yes, those drive modes are really useful, although it’s a shame they reset on every restart of the car. What Ford hasn’t made very clear are what the differences are. i.e. what does selecting that mode cause to happen differently? All Ford say is that it “alters the Puma’s throttle response, steering, and even gear-change behaviour”.

Possibly my favourite thing though is the Adaptive Cruise Control. Rather than maintain a set speed, you now set a maximum and the car will keep you at a set distance from the car in front (you can alter the distance from the steering controls). So, if you set the speed for 70 mph and the car in front slows to 60 mph, so will you. If it then accelerates to 80 mph, you then speed back up to 70.

Equally, the speed limiter is well thought out. Switch it on and put it to the current limit and, as it changes, so will your limiter.

No different to my Mazda but the back seats disappoint. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of leg room but the head height is a little restrictive and, well, there’s no particular comforts – where’s the USB socket or rear vents for passengers? It also lacks the Mazda’s pull-down arm rest which also has cup holders.

I did go for the full length “moon roof” option, so that gives passengers a rather nice, dark-tinted view out, adding plenty of additional light. The rear part can’t be opened but a cover can be slid in and out of place. For those in the front, their part of the roof does the full slide and tilt. How I’ve missed a sunroof!

Infotainment

The infotainment system in the Ford is so much of an improvement over anything I’ve had before – nimble and intelligent, it’s a breeze to use. The “home screen”, which shows the music you’re playing as well as the SatNav in separate windows, is a nice touch.

This is also the first time I’ve had a car with Apple CarPlay and that really is nice to use – plug my iPhone into a USB cable and I have Apple options available to me straight from the large touch-screen, including all my music and podcasts. You can even switch back to Ford’s infotainment system from there as well

One minor frustration is that the traffic sign recognition stops when you use an alternative SatNav (e.g. Apple Maps). So, it stops updating your speed limiter, which is a shame.

Overall

I’m really enjoying the car. Gone are some of the create comforts of the Mazda, but in their place a much more solid feeling drive and a large boot.

The car is not without some niggly faults – some of which I’ve mentioned here but others I’ve not, as I’m saving them for a separate post. There are a number of software-related issues that owners are experiencing, but are nothing more than you’d expect for something so new and I’m confident that they’ll be resolved in time.

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