Ford’s Puma, sporting the Titanium trim, has been turning heads and making waves in the bustling subcompact SUV market.

With a price tag of R570,400, it’s positioned to take on price rivals like the Kia Seltos, Haval Jolion, and Mazda CX-30. While it may not be a direct successor to the beloved EcoSport, the Puma is carving out its own niche with its dynamic handling, eye-catching design and overall practicality on the road.

Built on Ford’s B-car platform, the Puma boasts a balanced wheelbase and track width, giving it those coveted SUV proportions. It stands out with a low, sloping roofline that sets it apart from the typical wedge-shaped crossover profile.

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Up front, the Puma makes a statement with its unique ‘canoe-shaped’ headlamps perched atop the fenders, and LED fog lamps nestled below, integrated into the air curtain inlets for better aerodynamics around the wheels.

The Titanium trim adds a touch of class with black-machined 17-inch alloys and chrome accents on the grille, side skirts, and fog lamps. The back features a metallic grey diffuser and skid plate, with the windows framed in sleek high gloss black.

Step inside, and you’re greeted with a cabin that exudes luxury, from the leather-wrapped steering wheel to the wood-effect details and the specially designed fabric on the doors.

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And let’s talk about storage – the Puma doesn’t skimp on space. It starts with a generous 456-litre boot, expandable thanks to a versatile compartment system that adapts to your needs. Whether you’re heading out on an adventure or just running errands, the Puma Titanium is ready to pack in all your essentials and then some.

Need to lug around something big? No sweat, fold down those back seats and you’ve got room for a box that’s over a meter long and wide, and about knee-high. And if you’re a golfer, you’ll love the optional Ford MegaBox – it’s like a deep pocket that keeps your clubs standing tall.

But it’s not just about size; it’s smart too. Got something tall like a plant? It’ll fit upright. Need to hide your muddy gear? Just close the lid, and when it’s time to clean, hose it down – there’s a drain plug for the water to escape.

Up front, the car’s heart is a peppy 1,0-litre EcoBoost engine that’s all about efficiency and power, giving you the oomph when you need it without guzzling gas. It’s got this nifty trick where it turns off a cylinder to save fuel when you’re just cruising. And when you’re ready to roll, it kicks back in before you can blink.

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Driving’s a breeze with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that’s smooth as silk. Plus, you’ve got five drive modes to choose from – whether you’re just cruising around town, saving fuel on the highway, tackling slippery roads, hitting the trails, or feeling sporty, this car’s got you covered.

Ford’s Puma is a real treat on the road, boasting a fuel economy of 5.3 l/100 km – though you might find yourself having too much fun to notice. It’s a blast to drive, with handling so good it’s no wonder it’s a top pick for rally car teams.

Even when we put it to the test, it only sipped a bit more fuel, clocking in at 6,2 l/100 km, which is pretty decent and keeps up with the likes of Mazda and Kia Seltos.

Driving excitement comes from its solid rear suspension setup and beefy shock absorbers, making it a champ on curvy roads. Plus, it’s packed with safety tech like anti-lock brakes, stability control, and a lane-keeping system that’s smart enough to keep you on the road, even if it starts to get a little rough.

You can also opt for the Driver Assistance Pack, which is like having a co-pilot with you. It’s got everything from adaptive cruise control to a system that helps you park. And for the tech lovers, there’s a wireless charging pad so you can keep your devices juiced up without cables cluttering the place, all while staying connected to Ford’s SYNC 3 system for tunes and navigation on the go.

Colin Windell