The wait is over, and the facelifted 2024 Ford Puma has arrived! While exterior changes might not blow you away, step inside and you'll be greeted by a completely revamped digital haven. But there's a bittersweet catch – the beloved manual gearbox and fiery 1.5-liter engine in the ST model have been shown the door, replaced by a sole electrified 1.0-liter engine across the lineup. Let's delve deeper into this intriguing mix of familiarity and future-forward innovations.
Inside the cabin, the biggest transformation takes place. Gone is the standalone infotainment system, replaced by a commanding 12-inch touchscreen dominating the center console. It houses Ford's latest SYNC4 system, promising a more intuitive and user-friendly experience. A new 12.8-inch digital instrument cluster borrowed from the Tourneo Courier completes the modern makeover. Connectivity enthusiasts will rejoice with the addition of 5G and Alexa built-in, but the absence of physical climate controls might raise some eyebrows. On the safety front, the ADAS package sees further enhancements, including Lane Centering and Predictive Speed Assist functions on the Adaptive Cruise Control.
Moving outside, the 2024 Puma plays it safe. Updates primarily revolve around fresh LED headlight graphics, while the Ford emblem's relocation to the revamped grille gives it a closer resemblance to the discontinued Fiesta. Still, the sporty stance remains untouched, and you can choose from Titanium, ST-Line, ST-Line X, and ST trims. The color palette welcomes a new addition – Cactus Grey – amidst the existing six options.
Now, for the news that might leave some enthusiasts feeling deflated. The days of the 197 hp 1.5-liter turbo engine in the ST model are over. Instead, the reigns are handed over to a 1.0-liter mild-hybrid three-cylinder mill, available in power outputs ranging from 123 hp to 168 hp, exclusively paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. This leaves only the weakest engine option with the coveted six-speed manual, making manual-loving Puma buyers feel a bit left out.
But wait, there's more! The all-electric Puma Gen-E is confirmed, but it won't join the party until later in 2024. Recent spy shots reveal a disguised grille and minor bodykit tweaks, hinting at a slightly different aesthetic. While Ford hasn't revealed much about its specifications, speculation leans towards it sharing the powertrain with the E-Transit Courier and E-Tourneo Courier vans, which offer around 134 hp and an undisclosed battery capacity. The Puma Gen-E will surely face stiff competition from the likes of the Alfa Romeo Milano, Jeep Avenger, and Peugeot e-2008, making the segment even hotter.
For now, the facelifted Puma will be manufactured in Turkey and sold in European markets. In Australia, however, the story takes a different turn. The ICE-powered version will be discontinued in anticipation of the Puma-E's arrival later this year.
So, is the 2024 Ford Puma a worthy successor? Its familiar exterior might not scream excitement, but the digital revolution within and the promise of an electric future hold undeniable appeal. Whether it fulfills the expectations of both traditional and future-oriented enthusiasts remains to be seen, but one thing's for sure – the small SUV segment just got a whole lot more interesting.