Ford aims to pull customers away from BMW Group’s premium Mini brand with the new Puma, the company’s first small SUV developed specifically for European buyers.
The Puma will sit between the EcoSport small SUV and the Kuga compact SUV, enabling the U.S. automaker to challenge leaders in fast-growing small SUV sector such as the Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008.
Ford is banking on the Puma’s striking design, competitive driving dynamics, class-unique technology and ample interior space to persuade customers who would not normally choose a volume brand.
“The whole car is meant to attract people from premium brands. Mini is the key one,” Sigurd Limbach, Ford of Europe's vehicle line director for small cars, told Automotive News Europe.
Limbach referenced the first-generation S-Max minivan as inspiration for what Ford wants to replicate with the Puma.
“It was a mega success because [when it debuted in 2006] it was in a segment that wasn’t there [a sporty minivan],” he said. “It had a lot of space, was stylish and people loved it. This [the Puma] is also a stylish car with a lot of space but in a different decade.”
The Puma will have its auto show at the Frankfurt auto show in September and will go on sale in Europe in January.
The Puma, which will not be sold in the U.S., is based on an adapted version of Ford’s B2 small-car platform shared with the Fiesta but stretched lengthwise and widthwise to allow designers to create a more muscular design and to increase interior room.
The Puma measures 4186mm end-to-end, which is longer than the 4095mm EcoSport but shorter than the new Peugeot 2008 at 4300mm and the Opel Crossland X at 4212mm.
Ford claims the Puma’s 456-liter trunk space is best in class. The flexible storage space is partitioned with a moveable floor that can be fitted into three separate positions, including raised up to reveal an 80-liter glass fiber box that’s deep enough to allow items such as child's stroller to be stored upright in the trunk. The box also has a plug in the floor to allow it to be power-washed if used to store muddy items.