Ford Puma long-term test review

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 2244 List price £24,820 Target Price £23,090 Price as tested £28,770 Test economy 40.2mpg Official economy 50.4mpg Dealer price now £22,950 Private price now £20,400 Trade-in price now £20,050 Running costs (excluding depreciation) Petrol £292

29 January 2021 – The circle is complete

Ask half a dozen Ford Puma owners what they like most about their car and you could easily get half a dozen different answers. Then again, they might struggle to come up with just one highlight, because there are so many to choose from. If you were to ask me, I’d probably have to cheat slightly and go with ‘its versatility’. Ford’s small SUV, as I’ve discovered over the past few months, is such a well-rounded car that trying to single out one attribute is enough to make my brain hurt.

Ford Puma with Allan smiling

As we’ve come to expect from Ford, the Puma really is a hoot to drive. Its steering is quick and ideally weighted and it darts into corners with more enthusiasm than any rival. I actually found the Puma more enjoyable to drive most of the time than the Focus ST hot hatch I ran in 2019. Part of that is due to the fact that, even in sporty ST-Line X trim, the Puma isn’t too stiffly sprung; in fact, I thought it struck a happy balance between poise and ride comfort, especially at higher speeds, even on the optional 19in wheels fitted to my car.

Ford Puma long term

For the most part, I was impressed with the mild hybrid 1.0-litre turbocharged engine, too. In its most powerful form, it made the Puma feel pretty quick, proving gutsy and responsive in most situations. The engine would shut off and restart eerily smoothly at intersections, thanks to the 48-volt electrical system, but all the fuel-saving tech didn’t result in particularly startling economy; an average of 40.2mpg, while respectable, wasn’t quite as good as I was hoping for.

Ford Puma long term

I wouldn’t normally get excited about a car’s boot, but I’ll make an exception for the Puma’s, not only due to its size (being among the biggest in the class) but also for its exceptional practicality. Access to the deep MegaBox storage compartment beneath the cleverly designed boot floor was so easy that I found myself making far more use of it than expected, using it to accommodate everything from motorcycle gear to a bag of golf clubs, and it would no doubt be ideal for muddy boots and the like, because it can be hosed out if necessary. With the rear seatbacks folded down, the boot also proved able to carry a surprisingly substantial load when I took a load of rubbish to the recycling centre. 

Ford Puma long term

The rest of the interior feels like a step up from Ford’s usual fare. Not only is there space inside for four average-sized adults, but a bright, clear digital instrument panel and some surprisingly plush materials on the dashboard and doors also make it look and feel quite appealing. I found the driver’s seat and driving position to be top notch, even on long journeys, although occasionally my forehead would come into contact with the sun visor if I leaned forwards for a better view at intersections. 

Ford Puma long term

Other things I appreciated about the Puma included its exceptionally user-friendly controls for the air-con, sound system, adaptive cruise control and speed limiter (all proper physical knobs and switches rather than distracting touch-sensitive equivalents), plus its slick manual gearshift, its manoeuvrability around town, its clear and helpful rear-view camera and its well-judged suite of electronic driver aids (such as automatic emergency braking) – by which I mean not too intrusive.

Ford Puma long term

Flaws and areas of annoyance were few and far between. The only thing I can think of that could be better is noise suppression. Like some other Fords I’ve driven, the Puma isn’t a particularly quiet car, being rather rumbly even around town and generating a fair bit of road noise at higher speeds, albeit not enough to spoil the car’s otherwise impressive motorway cruising capability.

Ford Puma long term

Given that the Puma was our 2020 Car of the Year, no less, I’d have been mystified if I hadn’t found plenty to like about it. But all the accolades in the world couldn’t have prepared me for how versatile it turned out to be and how comfortably it slotted into my life. It’s hardly surprising that the Puma remains our favourite small SUV in 2021. It’s certainly mine.

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