Despite releasing just before the pandemic hit, the new Ford Puma (not to be confused with the older coupe with the same name) has, never-the-less, been a hit for Ford, even picking up the prestigious What Car? Car of the Year award last year.
Ford isn’t exactly known for its high-tech cars but this is still one of its most advanced cars yet. If you’ve just picked one up, or just interested in what it can do, then follow our tips for how to get the best out of it.
It’s a mild hybrid. What exactly is that?
Manufacturers define a “mild hybrid” in different ways. For example, Mazda uses a large capacitor to store power before topping up the standard battery, to save the engine from having to do it.
In the case of Ford, “mild” simply means that it’s scaled down. There’s a separate battery and an electric generator which feeds it. This energy can be used for the auto start/stop, air conditioning and to provide a torque boost for acceleration, reducing engine load and increasing efficiency.
As with most hybrids, it charges via regenerative braking during coasting and braking. Unlike so-called “plug in hybrids”, you can’t connect the battery to a power source to charge it up.
Read more about the Mild Hybrid engine on the Ford website.
What are the known problems?
A car bristling with technology is bound to have a few issues and there are a few that are still outstanding for some, if not all, owners…
- If you have a model with the top-end B&O music system, it includes a surround option. However, for some owners, they’ve found that this option isn’t listed in the menus. A software update may be all that’s needed – otherwise a trip to a dealer may be required.
- A lucky few will have the option for a hand-free boots. Simply wave your foot under the back bumper, like a Jedi with their hands full, and the boot will magically open and close itself. For some, it doesn’t seem to work – admittedly, there is a knack to it, so it may just be that. This video may help…
- A subscription (via the Ford website) is required for traffic and local hazard information. However, many owners have had problems with one or both of these not working correctly. In my case, it’s the local hazard information that doesn’t work…
Even my Ford dealer has given up on this one.
- The Puma can read and take actions based on road signs. For example, if you’re using the speed limiter and you change from, say, a 30mph to a 40mph area, then the speed limiter will adjust for this. You may also find it will, seemingly randomly, just not work.
The car uses both mapping data and cameras to do all of this, which is a bit hit-and-miss at times. When speed limits are changed for example, it can take some time until your car updates its maps. It’s not just the maps though – I’ll often go on drives and the sign recognition won’t do anything, then on the next trip, it will be fine. Some owners think this occurs in low temperatures – I found it occurs more often when using Apple CarPlay (albeit not consistently and not only then).
- If the Ford app tells you that connectivity has been lost due to the car being in a deep sleep, this could indicate battery issues. There is a known issue with a Rombat battery, which could be faulty. Speak to your dealer if this keeps occurring.
- If you have the wireless charger option and an iPhone 12 then you may find it doesn’t work brilliantly, if at all. This is due to the location of the charging coils in the car not being aligned for the latest iPhone models.
What are the driving modes?
The Ford Puma allows you to switch between different driving modes, each tuning the car in different ways. However, Ford doesn’t say much about what, exactly, happens.
There are 5 modes – Normal, Eco, Sport, Trail and Slippery.
Most changes are around throttle response and steering. In the case of “Eco”, it forces you to drive in a more economical manner – e.g. acceleration is slowed, preventing you from tearing away and impacting your MPG. For “Sport”, the auto start/stop switches off and the generated power adds a very noticeable boost to the car’s acceleration. To me, the sport setting is the most dynamic change from the default.
It’s worth adding too that whenever you start the car the mode goes back to “Normal”. Annoyingly, there is no way to change this behaviour.
Is there a mobile app?
There is indeed – FordPass is available on both the Google Play and Apple App Store. With it you can see various information about your car, where you are (your car uses its built in mobile connection for this), find dealers, see your service information, etc. You can even lock and unlock your car with it and, if you have an automatic, you can start it remotely too.
FordPass is the consumer version of the app, but FordPass Pro is also available and will work with your Puma too. Both apps have pros and cons – features on one that aren’t on the other. For example, the Pro version will show you whether your car is locked or not, while the standard version can show you recent car journeys.
I’d recommend installing both and deciding which one you prefer.
You can view a lot of this information, including additional information (such as subscriptions), on the Ford website too.
What is the “shark fin” on the roof for?
Like a lot of cars these days, the traditional antenna has been replaced by a plastic “shark fin”. However, it’s not being used for what you’d expect. Radio reception (FM and DAB) actually runs through the heating elements on the rear windscreen, while the shark fin on the roof is for GPS reception.
How does the car connect to devices and the internet?
There are 5 ways that the car can connect to the outside world…
- A built-in internal modem
This is mainly used for the car to connect, for free, with its own servers to send data, accessible from the mobile app. In additional, SatNav data, such as Live Traffic and Local Hazard Information, is also sent through this means.
You can also pay extra to use this as an in-car WiFi hotspot.
All of this means that the above data is provided to your car, not only for free, but without the need to have a phone in the car at all times.
- WiFi connection
WiFi can be used to update your system software. And by “can be”, I mean it was intended for this purpose. However, Ford is yet to use it this way.
- USB – wired connection to a phone
Physically connecting your phone to USB with a cable will allow you to access Android Auto or Apple CarPlay in your car.
- USB – memory stick
Use a memory stick to play music offline or for software/map updates (downloads available from the Ford website).
Connecting the car to your phone, via Bluetooth, gives you access to 2 features…
- Connecting your phone’s audio (output and the microphone) to the car
- Making and receiving phone calls
- Accessing and directing your phone’s voice assistant
How do you update the software?
Whether it’s the SYNC 3 software or the SatNav maps, updates are performed in a similar way, all via USB.
- Head to Ford’s software update page.
- Enter your car’s VIN.
- This will check the current status of your car and let you know of any updates that are required.
- Download any to your computer updates – it will also provide a link to a manual too, explaining how to install the SYNC or map update.
- You’ll need a USB stick formatted as ExFat.
- Unzip the software and copy to the USB stick. If using a Mac, I would recommend using a third party tool, such as The Unarchiver, otherwise you may find that some files are missing.
- Plug the USB key into your car and start the engine – this is to ensure that the ignition doesn’t turn off during the update process. Unfortunately, you’re going to have to sit in the car until this has finished. Some of the biggest map updates take over an hour, so bring coffee and a book.
- You’ll be informed once it’s done and you can remove the USB key. However, the changes may not be fully installed until the next cycle of the car – i.e. after you’ve turned the ignition off and locked the doors, allowing SYNC to fully turn off.
- If you return back to the software update page, you’ll be given an option to upload a confirmation file, which should have been created on the USB stick – this will stop the site from constantly telling you that you need an update that you’ve actually already applied. You’ll find this file in the folder
What if the confirmation file is missing?
This does happen. Quite a lot.
In fact, Ford has written some software for just this very reason called THE INTERROGATOR (caps are my own to make it sound more like the action movie that is seems to think it is).
Download it from their site, unzip and add to your USB key as you did above. Plug it into the car and it will run and generate a file on the USB key.
Are there any diagnostic screens?
The Puma has a hidden diagnostic mode. Here’s how to access it…
- Press and hold the “okay” button on the steering wheel and, keeping that down, press and release the start button (without depressing the clutch pedal)
- Keep the “okay” button held down until the diagnostic screen appears on the dashboard
- As the screenshot shows, use the Up/Down buttons to move through the diagnostic information.
Are the manuals online?
Ford provide electronic copies of all their manuals and can be found here – just supply your VIN number or the model/year. These are HTML versions of the manual, allowing you to more easily navigate around them. They’re also great for bookmarking and viewing on a mobile device.
Now, if you’re asking this question because you don’t think you have paper copies, the Puma glovebox has a slot in the top for these – open the glovebox and look at the very top of the interior space.
Where can I find more?
If you have more question, or want more assistance, then an owner’s forum is always a good idea. I’d recommend Puma Forums. Indeed, I’d like to thank the users of that very forum for helping me put together this article.