Ford Puma long-term test review: report 2

The Ford Puma is our favourite small SUV and 2020 Car of the Year, so we know it's terrific. Let's see if it lives up to those standards in everyday use...

Ford Puma long term

The car Ford Puma 1.0 Ecoboost Hybrid 155 ST-Line X Run by Allan Muir, managing editor

Why we’re running it To find out whether our 2020 Car of the Year is as well rounded in everyday use as it's cracked up to be

Needs to Be fun to drive, practical, comfortable and economical, offering something over and above a regular small hatchback

Mileage 1130 List price £24,420 Target Price £22,910 Price as tested £28,770 Test economy 40.6mpg 

25 September 2020 – Triple treat

Downsized turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engines are now reasonably common in small cars and even some that are much larger than my Puma, but this is the first time I’ve run one. Although it’s taking a bit of getting used to, it's impressive in many ways. 

Ford Puma long term

One of the characteristics of such engines is that they have a distinctive, offbeat thrumming sound when you rev them. Some of them – notably those from the Volkswagen Group – are reasonably refined, but Ford’s 1.0 Ecoboost unit sounds rather raucous and diesel-like at times, notably when pulling away from a standstill in first gear. And even with familiarity, I sometimes have trouble getting the car rolling without a shudder from the engine, especially if I’m trying to make a quick getaway. 

Once you’ve hit the higher gears and built up a bit of speed, though, the Puma’s engine settles down and delivers eager performance in a reasonably smooth, quiet manner. Being a mild hybrid, it harvests energy into a battery under deceleration, much like a full electric car, and redeploys it as needed to either ease the load on the petrol engine (to the benefit of fuel economy) or bolster performance. As an aid to acceleration, it really works, especially if you have the driving mode set to Sport. The effect of the electrical assistance is that the Puma feels like it’s powered by a much bigger, more powerful engine than a diddy 1.0, especially out of town. Even in top gear on the motorway, it responds briskly if you ask for a quick burst of acceleration – impressively so.

Ford Puma long term

The engine’s growl is actually quite an appealing accompaniment to brisk progress when you’re out in the countryside and have an opportunity to rev it hard through the gears. As for its coarseness under acceleration in the low gears, perhaps a full hybrid version that could start off on electric power would solve that particular problem. But even as it is, I can’t deny the 1.0 Ecoboost’s effectiveness.

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