Ford Puma review

Category: Small SUV

The Puma is fun to drive, easy to live with and great value. In short, it's a great small SUV

Ford Puma driving
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  • Ford Puma driving
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  • Ford Puma dashboard
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  • Ford Puma interior driver display
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  • Ford Puma grille detail
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  • Ford Puma interior front seats
  • Ford Puma interior back seats
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  • Ford Puma interior infotainment
  • Ford Puma interior starter button
  • Ford Puma interior detail
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Introduction

What Car? says...

You might remember the Ford Puma name on a small coupé back in the Nineties, but here we're reviewing its staggeringly successful small SUV reincarnation.

What does staggering success look like? Well, for the Puma it's meant winning our overall Car of the Year award and spending many months at – or near – the top of the UK's sales charts.

Echoing the original Puma, the latest model looks sportier than most other cars in its class, and is more fun in other ways – as we’ll come on to explain. That's true even of the regular Ford Puma we're reviewing here, but if you're after more serious performance, check out our Ford Puma ST review.

So, should you buy a Ford Puma instead of, say, a Nissan Juke, Skoda Kamiq or VW T-Roc? Read on to find out, as we rate it in all the important areas and compare it with the best small SUVs...


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Overview

With its nippy acceleration and agile handling, the Ford Puma will put a bigger smile on your face than any other small SUV. It’s a car you can buy with your sensible hat on, too, thanks to its relatively low CO2 emissions, excellent real-world fuel economy, cleverly designed boot and attractive monthly PCP costs.

  • Great fun to drive
  • Remarkable blend of performance and fuel economy
  • Big and cleverly designed boot
  • Rear space is adequate rather than outstanding
  • Visibility could be better
  • Volkswagen T-Roc is more comfortable and quieter
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Our Pick

OurPicksRRP £29,250
Ford Puma 1.0 EcoBoost Hybrid mHEV 155 ST-Line DCT 5dr review
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

All engines are 1.0-litre petrols with 48-volt mild-hybrid (mHEV) technology, which can shut the engine off to save fuel when you’re coming to a stop. As you engage a gear, the engine fires back into life in the blink of an eye, and a small electric motor adds a bit of zip to help you on your way.

Even the entry-level Ecoboost mHEV 125 was able to accelerate from 0-60mph in 9.6sec in our tests – far quicker than any Juke or the T-Roc 1.0 TSI. It pulls reasonably well from low revs and maintains cruising speed effortlessly. If you want more pace, the Ecoboost mHEV 155 is much faster, hitting 60mph from a standstill in just 8.5sec. That's as quick as pricier small SUVs, including the Audi Q2 35 TFSI. 

You get a six-speed manual gearbox on all Pumas as standard, with a seven-speed automatic gearbox available as an option.

Suspension and ride comfort

If ride comfort is a priority, you’d be better off looking at the Skoda Kamiq or VW T-Roc. Both have softer suspension, which means you feel less impact from lumps and bumps as they pass beneath the car.

In fact, if you want the most comfortable Puma, Titanium trim is your best bet as it’s the only version to come without the even firmer sport suspension fitted to all ST-Line variants. Even so, the Puma is far from a bone-shaker and never gets uncomfortable – it just follows the contours of the road more closely than the Kamiq or T-Roc.

There's a positive trade-off too: better body control equals less bouncing along undulating country lanes. We think most buyers will quite like the compromise. The Juke jostles you around in your seat far more. While we recommend sticking with 17in or 18in wheels if buying a Puma, even the largest 19in alloys (optional on all but the entry-level trim) don't make the ride too harsh.

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Ford Puma rear right driving

Handling

If you enjoy driving, the Puma will really win your heart. It's super-nimble by small SUV standards and you’ll notice this agility whether you’re merely scooting around a roundabout or flying down your favourite country lane.

To experience the Puma at its most entertaining, you'll want an ST-Line version with the sports suspension. This helps to keep the body more upright when cornering, although even the entry-level Titanium version darts into bends more eagerly than most of the competition.

Then there’s the steering. It’s quick to respond and gives you a far better sense of connection to the front wheels than you get from a Hyundai Kona, a Juke or even a Kamiq – again, something you can appreciate whether you're driving on quicker roads or zipping about town.

Noise and vibration

There are certainly quieter small SUVs than the Puma. Its engines have a slightly sporty rasp and there’s a fair amount of tyre roar at a steady 70mph – especially with 18in or 19in wheels fitted. On the motorway, the Kamiq and T-Roc do a much better job of keeping unwanted noise from reaching your ears. 

On the other hand, the Puma’s precise, snickety gearshift, feelsome clutch pedal and progressive brakes make it a really easy car to drive smoothly. Although the slick manual is our pick, the seven-speed automatic gearbox is also smooth.

The stop-start system goes about its business incredibly unobtrusively, and you hardly even notice when the engine switches off and on. It’s smoother and much quicker to respond than the system fitted to the Jeep Avenger e-Hybrid.

“The VW T-Roc might be a little more comfortable than the Puma, but when it comes to driving thrills, the Ford is streets ahead. It’s the kind of car I find myself taking for a drive just for the sake of it.” – Lawrence Cheung, New Cars Editor

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Driving position and dashboard

No matter which trim you go for, the driver's seat in the Ford Puma is comfortable and comes with adjustable lumbar support to help prevent back pain on long journeys. A minor gripe with the entry-level Titanium’s seats is that they could do with a bit more side support, but that’s solved on all ST-Line versions with their thicker bolsters.

All Pumas have front seat-height adjustment and plenty of movement to get the steering wheel just where you need it, no matter what your shape or size. Some people might find the gear lever is set a little low down, though.

You don't sit quite as far above the road as you do in the T-Roc, but you are much higher up in the Puma than in some other small SUVs, including the Hyundai Bayon and the Skoda Kamiq. The Puma's dashboard is also easy to get the hang of, with chunky, intuitive controls for the air-conditioning.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

Depending on your driving position, you might find that the aggressively angled front pillars block some of your view at junctions and roundabouts. Visibility out of the back of the Puma isn’t brilliant, either – blame the rising window line and the chunky rear pillars for that.

On the plus side, all Pumas come with rear parking sensors, while upgrading to the top-spec ST-Line Vignale gets you front parking sensors, too. A rear-view camera is available as an option.

You can pay extra for LED headlights with ST-Line X trim (they come as standard on the range-topping ST-Line Vignale). These project more intense beams than the standard halogen bulbs. The rival Kamiq comes with LED headlights as standard.

Ford Puma dashboard

Sat nav and infotainment

All Pumas come with an 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system with DAB radio, Bluetooth, built-in sat-nav and smartphone mirroring via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay (so you can use selected phone apps on the car's screen). ST-Line X and ST-Line Vignale models add wireless phone-charging, and it's available as an option on the cheaper trims. 

The operating system isn’t as modern-looking as the equivalent in the Kamiq or T-Roc, and the touchscreen sometimes takes a while to respond after you’ve pressed it. All things considered, though, it’s packed with features and easier to use than the system in the Juke.

If you go for ST-Line X or ST-Line Vignale trim, the standard seven-speaker sound system is replaced by a really punchy 10-speaker B&O setup. If we’re being picky, the sound quality it delivers isn't quite as warm or enveloping as the Bose system in range-topping versions of the Juke, but it's still good.

Quality

The Puma’s interior is dressed a little more lavishly than the one in the Bayon and Toyota Yaris Cross – which both have more hard, unforgiving plastics – with slightly squidgy surfaces on the dashboard and the tops of its doors.

ST-Line X models have some faux carbon-fibre highlights as well as part-leather seats, while the range-topping ST-Line Vignale has full-leather seats.

Some of the dashboard plastics feel a bit low-rent, though, and the overall effect is more upmarket in the Juke, the Peugeot 2008 and the VW T-Roc. Meanwhile, the Lexus LBX feels significantly plusher and more robust inside.

“The steering wheel, pedals and gearlever are perfectly placed for a sporty driving position. For me, it's intrinsic to the Puma’s already impressive driving experience.” – Dan Jones, Reviewer

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Front space

Unless you’re exceptionally tall, you’ll fit just fine in the front of the Ford Puma and won’t find yourself struggling for head or leg room.

It's not as roomy as the VW T-Roc though – that car has a few more centimetres of head room, along with a slightly broader interior that provides more shoulder room between the driver and front passenger.

There’s plenty of storage space, with decent-sized door bins, a cubby in front of the gear lever, another one below the front armrest and a couple of cupholders between the front seats.

Rear space

The Puma's small rear side windows don’t help create an impression of roominess and, in real terms, a couple of six-footers will have less knee room than in the limo-like Skoda Kamiq, or either the VW Taigo or VW T-Roc.

Head room is also worse than it is in both those rival cars, but in case that all sounds rather damning, you can still carry a couple of tall passengers in the back without too many grumbles.

It’s best to avoid the Puma's optional panoramic roof, though. It lowers the height of the ceiling and reduces head room further, especially in the back.

Ford Puma boot open

Seat folding and flexibility

All Pumas have 60/40 split-folding rear seats, which matches what you get in almost all small SUVs, including the Kamiq, T-Roc and Lexus LBX. 

However, it's a pity that there’s no ski hatch in the Puma (there is in the T-Roc), or any other neat touches, such as the sliding rear seats offered in the VW T-Cross.

Boot space

You can fit six carry-on-sized suitcases in the Puma's main boot compartment – one fewer than you’ll squeeze into a Kamiq, Toyota Yaris Cross or T-Roc. The Puma has a trick up its sleeve, though: if you lift up its 'false' boot floor, you’ll find a large well underneath that can swallow two more cases.

The boot floor can clip to the rear seatbacks so you can stand two sets of golf clubs, or a couple of large pot plants, upright in the well. There’s even a removable plug at the bottom, so you can hose out any mud afterwards.

The boot floor is height-adjustable. When it's set to its highest position and the rear seats are folded down, there's no step in the floor of the extended load bay and only a very small lip at the boot entrance. The tailgate-mounted parcel shelf lifts up when the boot is opened to give excellent access.

“The underfloor storage grabs the headlines, but I’ve also found the 12-volt power socket in the boot to be very useful.” – Stuart Milne, Digital Editor

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

There are no weedy engines in the Ford Puma line-up, nor are there any super-basic trim levels. That explains why the car's starting price is higher than those of the Juke and Kamiq. However, in like-for-like form, it’s actually cheaper than both those cars, and also undercuts the equivalent T-Roc.

PCP car finance deals are usually pretty attractive, helped by the fact that the Puma is predicted to depreciate more slowly than many of its peers. It’s more economical, too – in our real-world True MPG test, the 1.0 Ecoboost mHEV 155 averaged a very respectable 45.1mpg.

If you’re thinking about going for an automatic gearbox in the Puma, be aware that it’ll be more expensive to buy and run than a manual. It’s still more economical with slightly lower CO2 emissions than the equivalent automatic Juke, though. The Puma pumps out less CO2 than many small SUVs so it's a relatively cheap company car (just not as cheap as an electric car or hybrid alternative, such as the Citroën e-C4 or Yaris Cross). Mind you, an electric Ford Puma is coming soon.

Equipment, options and extras

The cheapest trim, Titanium, doesn’t feel that ‘entry-level’ at all, with 17in alloy wheels, automatic lights and wipers, automatic air conditioning and heated door mirrors, alongside the standard infotainment features and parking aids.

You might also want to consider ST-Line trim (our favourite), which adds sportier styling, swaps the conventional instrument dials behind the steering wheel for a 12.3in digital display and adds more supportive seats. However, you do have to make do with manual air-conditioning, which blows warm or cool air on demand rather than automatically maintaining a set temperature.

ST-Line X trim does get climate control and also brings bigger 18in alloys for an even sportier look, along with privacy glass, part-leather seats and that great-sounding B&O stereo.

Meanwhile, range-topping ST-Line Vignale gets full leather seats (heated in the front), a heated leather steering wheel and keyless entry. It's too pricey to recommend, though.

Ford Puma interior driver display

Reliability

The Puma finished 17th out of 22 small SUV models in our 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey – below the Juke and VW T-Roc, but above the Kamiq.

As a manufacturer, Ford finished mid-table, claiming 17th place out of the 32 brands included. That’s one position below Skoda and two above Nissan, while VW finished 22nd.

All Pumas come with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty as standard, although that can be extended to five years (with a 100,000-mile limit) for an extra charge. That’s about average for a small SUV, but you get longer standard warranties with the Hyundai Kona and Kia Stonic.

Safety and security

All Pumas come with the modern preventative safety aids you’d expect, including automatic emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assistance and traffic-sign recognition.

On the higher trims, you can add a Driver Assistance Pack, which gets you blind-spot monitoring and a couple of other clever safety systems: Evasive Steering Assist and Cross Traffic Alert. Either way, the Puma has six airbags to protect you and your passengers in the event of a collision.

Euro NCAP awarded the Puma four stars out of five for safety – a rather disappointing score. To keep would-be thieves at bay, all Pumas come with a Thatcham category one alarm and immobiliser.

“While air-conditioning comes as standard on all models, I find it odd that climate control isn’t offered – even as an optional extra.” – Steve Huntingford, Editor


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FAQs

  • The Puma is one of the very best cars in its class. In fact, the only small SUV we think is (slightly) better overall is the VW T-Roc.

  • No – all versions of the Ford Puma have front-wheel drive, and not even the most powerful model (the Ford Puma ST) is available with four-wheel drive.

  • The Puma has five seats and a big boot, so it's certainly big enough for a family of four. However, some small SUVs offer more rear leg and head room, which is worth bearing in mind if you have tall teenagers.

  • Some rival SUVs offers a more comfortable ride or a classier interior. Overall, though, the Puma is a great small SUV.

At a glance
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RRP price range £25,800 - £33,050
Number of trims (see all)4
Number of engines (see all)3
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol
MPG range across all versions 47.1 - 52.3
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £1,430 / £2,030
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £2,860 / £4,059
Available colours