Ford Puma review
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.
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-3 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.
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 very straightforward too, with three core versions to consider – Titanium, ST-Line and ST-Line X.
The Titanium is the entry-level trim for the Puma range, but it’s still well equipped and finished with flair, including 17-inch alloy wheels, a leather steering wheel, power folding mirrors, navigation via an eight-inch central touchscreen display, cruise control, rear parking sensors and even a wireless charging pad. The other side to this is that the Puma’s starting price is relatively high compared with rivals, many of which start from below £20,000.
ST-Line models add a bit more standard equipment such as a widescreen 12.3-inch digital instrument display and automatic headlamps. 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 partial leather upholstery, privacy glass in the windows and a 10-speaker audio setup from Bang & Olufsen.
With the car still very new to showrooms, three launch edition cars are also offered at present in the form of Titanium First Edition, ST-Line X First Edition and ST-Line First Edition Plus. Each of these is an even more generously equipped version of the respective standard trim levels.
The Puma is front-wheel-drive only and buyers are offered three engine options. The EcoBoost 125 uses a 123bhp 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine as found in the Fiesta, while a 48-volt mild-hybrid version of this engine is also available. It doesn’t bring any additional power, but it introduces marginal reductions in CO2 emissions and gains in fuel economy, too. The third option is another 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol with the same mild-hybrid system, but power is pushed up to 153bhp.
If you must have a diesel, one will join the line-up later in 2020, as will an entry level 94bhp petrol model, which will probably bring the Puma beneath the £20,000 mark. All versions of the Puma use a six-speed manual gearbox for now, with a seven-speed automatic coming soon.
Later this year, buyers will be offered a hot version too – the Puma ST is on its way, powered by the Fiesta ST’s 1.5-litre engine for a total of 197bhp.
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