2020 Ford Puma 1.0 Ecoboost mHEV 125 Titanium review: price, specs and release date
The Ford Puma is the 2020 What Car? Car of the Year; do a more affordable engine and trim level make it even more tempting?...
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In case you’ve missed the excitement at What Car? this week, this is our 2020 Car of the Year: the Ford Puma. To read the full details of why the Puma beat the rest of our contenders to take home the top gong, don’t forget to have a look at our 2020 Awards page.
However, our winner was fitted with the top-spec 153bhp turbocharged petrol engine, while the Puma we're testing here has the more modest 124bhp version of the same engine. It may be down on power, but it still has electrical assistance to boost urgency at low revs and allow it to shut off when you’re rolling to a stop in the interest of economy.
We’re not sampling just a different engine but also a cheaper trim level: Titanium. Don’t think this is just a model with a few less toys than our ST-Line X champion, because it also gets slightly softer suspension.
2020 Ford Puma 1.0 Ecoboost mHEV 125 Titanium on the road
The 124bhp engine promises better acceleration than the equivalents offered by the rival Nissan Juke and Volkswagen T-Roc, and it shows on the road. As with the more muscular motor, there’s a surprising peppiness to it. Yes, there's less low-down shove (it needs another 500rpm or so to really get going), but it can still whisk you up to motorway speeds quickly enough and doesn’t need a lower gear every time you encounter a hill.
The 124bhp unit is also slightly more refined. You hear it sound a little strained only when building revs; once up to speed, there's very little engine noise at all. The wind noise will grab more of your attention.
Titanium trim may get you the Puma’s softest suspension (ST-Line models get a sports setup), but it's still a bit stiff, so potholes and harder speed bumps still send a thump through the car. It’s nothing that’s too uncomfortable, but the Skoda Kamiq offers a more composed ride over our broken roads. It's worth pointing out, though, that while UK models get 17in wheels, our Euro-spec test car had an 18in set, which won’t have done the ride any favours.
The upshot of the fairly firm springs is excellent handling. The Puma is super agile by small SUV standards, darting into bends with very little body lean, whether you’re navigating a roundabout or blasting down twisty country lanes. The steering gives a far better sense of connection to the front wheels than you get from the Juke or Kamiq, while the snickety manual gearbox is a joy to use. So, even at sensible speeds, the Puma is the best small SUV to drive.
Like ST-Line X, Titanium trim provides selectable driving modes that alter the characteristics of the car. Sport, for example, increases the weight of the steering, can boost torque for limited periods and sharpens accelerator response, while Eco softens that response and reduces the air conditioning’s output to save petrol.
2020 Ford Puma 1.0 Ecoboost mHEV 125 Titanium interior
Staying on the Titanium theme, this trim level is aimed more at the comfort and luxury side of the market, rather than the sportiness of ST-Line X. So, it provides electrically adjustable lumbar support and a massage function for the driver, wireless smartphone charging and climate control instead of regular air conditioning. All Pumas get Ford Pass Connect, a system that transmits information such as queuing traffic, emergency stops and even the use of hazard lights to other Fords. That means you get an early warning of any impending danger or hassle.
Rear seat space isn’t the Puma's strongest suit, and its small side windows make it feel a little dark and claustrophobic, although there’s still room for a six-footer back there. The T-Cross and Kamiq are a much better fit for taller passengers, though. We’d also suggest avoiding the Puma's optional panoramic glass roof, because this reduces head room further.
Space in the boot is much more impressive, and there are clever features as standard, the best of them being the Megabox, which provides 80 litres of space beneath the boot floor. That’s on top of the already large space that has an uninterrupted width of a metre, making it easier to load big, heavy items.
To find out even more about our 2020 Car of the Year winner, have a look at our full Puma review, and if you’re convinced already, find out how much you could save on your new purchase by visiting our New Car Buying pages.