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Why the new Ford Puma is well over R500,000

Ford recently broke the news that the new Puma is coming to South Africa shortly after delisting the EcoSport in the local market, with the high-end nature of the new crossover, the exchange rate of the domestic currency, and its direct competitors all playing a role in its half-million-rand-plus price tag.

While not a direct replacement for the EcoSport, the Puma is intended to be Ford’s only entry in the affordable end of the market as without it, the automaker will only be selling the Everest, Ranger, and Mustang, all of which carry rather hefty price tags.

With the EcoSport being available in nine trims selling from R311,400 before its discontinuation, it was expected that the Puma would be somewhat pricier, but not by an extreme amount.

This, because the Puma sits on the same B3 platform as the EcoSport (and Fiesta), it has the same 1.0-litre engine as the EcoSport that has been on sale since 2013, it has similar dimensions to the EcoSport, and it has many of the same features as the top-spec EcoSport Titanium.

Additionally, the Puma has been on sale in the UK since mid-2019, meaning it’s nearly time for its first facelift as few vehicles on the market go longer than four, maybe five years without seeing at least one major upgrade.

With this in mind, when it announced the local specifications and launch date of the Puma, and Ford said that it would be available in two specifications only retailing from a minimum of R569,900, it immediately raised questions as to why the new crossover is so much pricier.

TopAuto reached out to Ford South Africa to get more clarity on its newcomer’s price, and the automaker happily gave an explanation.

“In general, Puma is a more comprehensively equipped and stylish package, priced in line with the market,” with the crossover marking the debut of Ford’s all-new “upmarket” Vignale trim, said the company.

“The Puma is sourced from Romania, and its pricing is thereby also influenced by exchange rates.” In Romania, the crossover starts at around R480,000¬†and is available in seven variants.

The more premium aesthetic of the Puma versus the EcoSport, rand/euro exchange rate, and import taxes were therefore the main contributors to its substantial cost, which is at least R153,000 higher than that of the most expensive EcoSport.

When asked if a more affordable Puma would eventually make it to market, Ford said that it “can’t comment on other derivatives at this stage.”

We wouldn’t be surprised if they do, though.

In September 2022, the company launched the next-gen Everest at a hefty starting price of R965,400 also in two specifications – while its outgoing Everest started retailing from a much lower R588,300 and was available in a total of seven flavours.

At the time, Ford also kept quiet about the possibility of cheaper Everest models being on their way, but in April 2023, it launched four new derivatives including the entry-level XLT, bringing down the barrier to entry by over R130,000.

As such, it’s very possible Ford could again be following this strategy to test interest and the viability of launching a wallet-friendly Puma before taking the financial plunge.

2024 Ford Puma Facelift spy shot. Source: Motor1.com

New Ford Puma already in the works

While the Puma is slated to land in South Africa later in 2023, Motor1.com writes that the facelift model is already in the works.

Recent spy shots of the crossover in Germany wrapped in a heavy camouflage with only its lights protruding out hints that it’s in for a slight cosmetic rework and, more likely than not, an upgrade to its standard feature set.

Most notably, the new Puma is expected to gain redesigned headlights, a badge that has moved from the nose onto the grille, and new front and rear bumpers, while its cabin is also anticipated to be on the receiving end of minor aesthetic changes and updates to keep it looking fresh and new for the next five years to come.

Ford has yet to announce when the new Puma will reach the market, with several reports indicating that it will be before the end of 2024.

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