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Ford Puma review

The Ford Puma is the small crossover we didn’t know we needed. Effectively replacing the Fiesta hatch, it's already become hugely popular.

The small SUV and crossover segment is full of cars that are hatchbacks trying to be SUVs and SUVs trying to be hatchbacks. But the Puma breaks the mould.

It feels like the modern solution to the small family car, it’s got all the best bits of a hatchback with the practicality of a much bigger car. 

Entry level prices are pretty reasonable starting from £25,000 and there’s plenty of trim options to choose from. For those looking for a sportier option there’s the Puma ST if a souped-up hot hatch is more appealing.

Unfortunately, the Puma missed out on the top five star rating when Euro NCAP crash tested the car in 2022, but it was still awarded a respectable four stars. 

What’s new about the Ford Puma?

It’s part of a relatively new vehicle type that sits higher on the road than a standard hatchback and works well as a family car. The Puma name might sound familiar as it belonged to a Ford coupé model in the late ‘90s, but the name has been revived with a completely different look. 

Given Fiesta production will cease this year, the Puma has taken the lead as Ford’s best-selling vehicle. All trim levels come well equipped and it’s surprisingly fun to drive. Whether it’s a family runaround, or a daily commuter, it’ll fit nicely into most people’s lives. 

How does it look?

The Puma is essentially a jacked-up hatchback based on the Fiesta. The ride height is higher than its hatchback siblings but not quite high enough to qualify for SUV status. Different trim levels add some more aggressive exterior styling like a large rear spoiler, chrome exhaust and privacy glass. 

There’s also a number of different alloy wheel choices that look quite smart, especially with a bright paint choice. The grille fits with the new era of Ford design and gives it a modern feel alongside large front headlights. 

What’s the spec like?

There’s four trim options to choose from: Titanium, ST-Line, ST-Line X and ST-Line Vignale. Entry-level Titanium comes with plenty of equipment, including: automatic headlights and wipers, rear parking sensors, lane keep assist, power-folded heated door mirrors and an eight-inch touchscreen. 

ST-Line adds body coloured bumpers, rear spoiler, air conditioning, leather steering wheel and sports suspension. ST-Line X gets privacy glass, an upgraded audio system and a wireless charging pad. Top of the range ST-Line Vignale comes with front parking sensors, heated seats and steering wheel and keyless entry. 

There’s also a good selection of optional extras that can be added to lower trim models. The ‘winter pack’ has front heated seats and a heated steering wheel. A ‘driver assistance pack with parking’ has a host of additional safety features such as blind spot monitoring, front parking sensors and rear view camera. For ease of access, a powered tailgate can be specified, which is especially handy in the rain. 

What’s it like inside?

Inside, the Puma feels very familiar. Its hatchback roots make it easy to get acquainted with and the dash isn’t crowded with any unnecessary buttons. The touchscreen is simple to use and the internal navigation system integrates well with the driver display to show directions even when the main screen is showing something else. 

Tall passengers in the back may find rear headroom a bit restrictive – especially if the optional panoramic sunroof is fitted – but for short journeys, three adults should be fine. The rear doors allow good access to the back seats, and they fold flat to carry larger items. 

Boot space is the Puma’s biggest surprise. The parcel shelf is attached to the boot lid so it moves up to give easy access to the boot opening. The main boot compartment is a decent size but, for even more space, the boot floor lifts to reveal additional storage. It can be used as a separate compartment or clipped open to expand the boot fully. There’s also a drainage plug at the bottom, so if muddy boots are thrown in the back, it can be cleaned out easily. 

What’s under the bonnet?

There are just two petrol engines available in the Puma, a 1.0-litre EcoBoost with 125hp or a 1.0-litre EcoBoost with 155hp. Both have mild hybrid assistance, are available with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic gearbox. 

As mild hybrids they offer good fuel economy (at least in the lab), with combined efficiency being around 50mpg. For motorway driving with the 125hp engine, we consistently achieved 59mpg. 

What’s it like to drive?

It’s a delight to drive a vehicle that doesn’t feel like driving dynamics have been sacrificed for practicality. In the example we drove, the sports suspension meant there was minimal body roll despite the higher ride height. It feels upright around corners and doesn’t throw you from side to side.  

The six-speed manual gearbox is smooth and easy to get used to. There’s a start-stop engine function that cuts the engine when the vehicle stops for any length of time. In other vehicles, these systems can sometimes have a delay when it’s time to move away again but the Puma’s transition is pleasingly unintrusive. 

Visibility is a little restricted, as the front pillars are quite large and the swooping roofline means the back window is relatively small. Large mirrors give a good view over the back of the car and there’s no obstruction to check blind spots through the rear side windows. 

For those who enjoy driving, the Puma is the perfect compromise between a practical family car that’s still engaging to drive. At motorway speeds road noise is louder than desired, so if this type of driving is a priority, there are quieter options, but it’s very stable at speed and the brakes feel strong. 

Verdict

The Puma is an impressive crossover and it’s clear to see why it’s already been extremely successful in the UK. From the outside, the body style might not make sense for those unfamiliar with the crossover style, but in the driving seat it makes perfect sense. 

It’s a modern, high-riding hatchback that’s practical but still good fun to drive. All trim levels are well equipped and starting prices are very reasonable. The four-star safety rating is the only aspect holding this model back. It scored lowest on safety assist features, but there are optional safety packages that can be added. 

Similar vehicles

Audi Q2 | Citroën C3 Aircross | Dacia Duster | Fiat 500X | Ford EcoSport | Honda HR-V | Hyundai Bayon | Jeep Renegade | Kia Stonic | Mazda CX-3 | MG ZS | Nissan Juke | Peugeot 2008 | Renault Captur | SEAT Arona | Skoda Kamiq | SsangYong Tivoli | Suzuki Vitara | Toyota Yaris Cross | Vauxhall Mokka | Volkswagen T-Roc

Key specifications

Model tested: Ford Puma ST-Line
Price (as tested): £28,345
Engine: 1.0-litre petrol with mild hybrid assistance
Gearbox: Six-speed manual

Power: 125 hp
Torque: 170 Nm
Top speed: 119 mph
0-62 mph: 9.8 seconds
Fuel economy (combined): 52.3 mpg
CO2 emissions: 122 g/km

Insurance group: 11
Warranty: Three years / 60,000 miles
Euro NCAP safety rating: Four stars (2022)
TCE Expert Rating: 76% (as of January 2023)

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Trinity Francis
Trinity Francishttps://www.trinitygfrancis.com/
Freelance automotive journalist and motoring writer focusing on all aspects of automotive content, with particular attention to emerging trends, industry innovations, tech and consumer advice.
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