Ford Puma review | Auto Express

We’ve waited a while for Ford to give us a proper compact SUV based on the Fiesta. Until now, the firm’s sole offering in the B-SUV market – the EcoSport – has not been good enough. The new Ford Puma hits the right notes and is precisely what you’d expect of the brand, blending practicality and affordability into a package that’s good to drive.

The Puma’s looks won’t appeal to everyone, but few rivals can better it for boot-space and virtually none can outshine the Puma from behind the wheel – equipment levels are strong too. However, there are more upmarket-feeling and spacious rivals out there for this sort of cash.

About the Ford Puma

Cast your memory back to 1997, and you may remember Ford launched a fun, small, front-wheel-drive coupe based on what was then the fourth-generation Fiesta. It added a bit of richly needed desirability at the smaller end of the brand’s British line-up. It was a hit – the Ford Puma had landed.

Now, the Puma name is back, and it’s an extremely similar story save for one very important detail; the new Ford Puma is not a small coupe, but a small five-door SUV. It’s based on the current, seventh-generation Fiesta supermini, sharing its chassis and its engines, as it enters a market that’s overflowing with choice at the minute.

Chief rivals include the Renault Captur, the Peugeot 2008, Skoda Kamiq and SEAT Arona, while the handsome Mazda CX-30 and spacious Volkswagen T-Cross offer further possibilities for customers considering a small family SUV. Left-field alternatives include cars like the design-led Nissan Juke, chunky Jeep Renegade and the retro Fiat 500 X.

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The Puma line-up isn’t quite as expansive as the Fiesta’s, but there are still plenty of models to choose from and even more engine options will be available soon. The trim structure is fairly straightforward too, with four core versions: Titanium, ST-Line, ST-Line X and luxury ST-Line Vignale, although there are Design variants of the Titanium and ST-Line to choose from.

The Puma ST performance model sits at the top of the range, with buyers able to upgrade to the ST Performance Pack or ST Gold Edition versions.

The Puma range doesn’t have a really basic entry-level model, so the cheapest Titanium Design car is priced at around £23,000, but is well equipped and finished with flair. Standard kit includes 17-inch alloy wheels, power folding mirrors, an eight-inch central touchscreen display, air-con and cruise control. The other side to this is that the Puma’s starting price is a touch high compared with rivals, some of which kick off from around £22,000.

ST-Line models add a bit more standard equipment such as a widescreen 12.3-inch digital instrument display, but these cars major on sporty touches including a body-kit, different alloy wheels, sports seats and pedals and a sports suspension setup that helps the Puma to shine as one of the best crossovers to drive.

ST-Line X builds on this with luxury features such as upgraded upholstery, privacy glass in the windows and a 10-speaker audio setup from Bang & Olufsen, while the Vignale brings a wireless smartphone charging pad, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, front parking sensors and keyless entry. We’d advise on having a good look at what kit you actually need as the Vignale model, starting from around £27,000, seems a little indulgent.

The Puma is front-wheel-drive only and buyers are offered three petrol engine options. The EcoBoost 125 employs a 123bhp 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder unit as found in the Fiesta. It uses 48-volt mild-hybrid technology, achieving a slight increase in torque over the previous non-hybrid model, and managing marginal reductions in CO2 emissions and gains in fuel economy, too. A second option is another 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol with the same mild-hybrid system, but power is pushed up to 153bhp.

For the performance enthusiast, the Puma ST is arguably the best-handling compact SUV on sale, powered by the Fiesta ST’s 1.5-litre engine for a total of 197bhp.

A six-speed manual gearbox comes as standard, with an optional seven-speed automatic transmission. If you want the 153bhp version with an auto ‘box, you’ll have to specify the top-spec ST-Line Vignale trim, while the racy ST is manual only.

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