The all-new Ford Puma is a practical compact SUV that offers five-door versatility and great driving dynamics. It has class-leading storage space and is offered with a choice of frugal, yet punchy powertrains.
The goodStyling, handling, space and running costs
The badUp against stiff competition
Ford Puma 1.0 Ecoboost MHEV Titanium (2020)
Think back to that small coupe model from the 90s called the Ford Puma. Well, now the name has made a comeback and the car itself is ready to pounce on the scene.
That’s because the all-new 21st Century Ford Puma has many architectural similarities to the ever-popular best-selling Fiesta model on which it is based, but it’s bigger all round and also higher so becomes yet another vehicle vying for sales in the compact crossover sector.
And although that particular segment is bursting with models these days, the five-door Puma has some unique selling points to grab the attention of would-be customers, including eye-catching styling, punchy economical engines, plus class-leading load space which is a ‘must’ for anyone who needs to fill every inch of their boot.
There is also a rather clever underfloor compartment in the boot which is ideal for storing muddy boots or wet clothing etc. And when you get home you can simply rinse this Megabox area out as it has a plug that can be removed to drain away dirty water. It’s very clever and practical. I transported a number of plants from a garden centre and this storage area was ideal for keeping them upright and then any excess dirt was quickly washed away.
We tested the Puma powered by a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder mild hybrid engine delivering 125PS and 210Nm of torque in Titanium guise matched to a six-speed manual gearbox. This model, costing £21,640 (£23,840 with options) could sprint from 0-62mph in 9.8 seconds, topped out at 119mph and delivered 51.4mpg under WLTP testing along the way, with carbon emissions of 96g/km.
Out on the open country lanes, the acceleration from the three-pot engine proved both instant and constant with ample power on tap to overtake slower moving vehicles. The front wheel drive Puma offers impressive levels of grip meaning corners can be attacked with confidence and it’s also nicely balanced with very little sign of any body sway.
In fact, it would be fair to say its dynamic characteristics are very similar to that of a hatchback rather than a compact SUV and the nicely weighted steering offers plenty of driver feedback.
It cruises with ease at national speed limits on motorways, although the engine does get a little more vocal when pushed on, and then the Puma is nimble and easy to manoeuvre in busier town centre settings with a 10.5-metre turning circle.
The driver can choose from drive modes called Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Trail that alter the car’s responses – the Sport setting really sharpens up the handling and is best saved for quieter country roads.
There’s no denying the Puma, which is built in Romania, is a good looking vehicle with its athletic SUV stance, neat curves, LED daytime running lights, distinctive grille, tinted windows, lots of chrome trim, plus 10-spoke, 17-inch alloys.
The interior is both clutter-free and driver friendly with all dials, controls and readouts well placed for ease of use. The cloth seats are comfy with plenty of support and there is a wealth of on-board kit to explore, with techno treats including a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system and Ford’s SYNC 3 set-up that features a sat nav, an eight-inch display touchscreen and a 12.5-inch configurable instrument cluster behind the steering wheel. There is full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and a wireless phone charger pad.
Comfort levels are high and there is room for a couple of adults in the back if the front seats are not pushed back too far. Storage options are good too with the boot capacity ranging from 466 litres to 1,200 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. And that Megabox means you can carry two sets of golf clubs in an upright position if so desired.
The Ford Puma also comes complete with a comprehensive list of safety features that helped it secure a maximum five stars when it was tested for its Euro NCAP rating. Our car also had a Driver Assistance Pack costing £900 extra that introduced blind spot monitoring, city traffic assist with active braking, intelligent adaptive cruise control with evasive steering, active park assist, front parking sensors and a rear-view camera.
All in all, the all-new Ford Puma is a very attractive newcomer to the compact crossover scene with smart styling and impressive handling, plus some very clever packaging along the way.