Ford Puma ST long-term test review

Our chief photographer wanted an SUV that brought more than a touch of fun to a gruelling daily routine. How does the Ford Puma ST stack up?...

Ford Puma 2021 Long-term header composite

The car Ford Puma ST Run by John Bradshaw, chief photographer

Why it’s here To see whether a Sports SUV can cut it as an everyday workhorse, without costing a fortune to run

Needs to Carry heavy, bulky equipment long distances without breaking a sweat and while putting a smile on the driver's face

Mileage 996 List price £28,808 Target Price £27,354 Price as tested £31,185.00 Test economy 39.9mpg Official economy 41.5mpg Options fitted Driver Assistance Pack (£600), ST body colour: Mean Green (£525), Hands-free power tailgate (£350)

15 November 2021 – Smiles for miles?

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the enforced working from home which it brought for many, there’s a lot of talk about getting your work/life balance right. If you work from home there’s a real risk that your final task of the day might bleed through from office hours to personal time, as you seek to “clear the decks” before a fresh day rolls around. Well, I’m hoping that my new Ford Puma ST will help me tip the balance back to where it should be.

Being What Car?’s chief photographer, there is, of course, no way that I can work from home, because I have to be out and about shooting cars. However, that doesn't mean I can't still have some fun on my way to my location for the day, a bit more as soon as the home bell rings and, perhaps, squeeze a bit more in during the day. And on paper, at least, the Puma ST looks like the right tool for the task. 

We named it as our Sports SUV of the Year at the most recent What Car? Awards, and I’m hoping that its blend of sportiness and utility will hit the nail on the head for me, keeping me entertained on the way to wherever I'm headed, while carrying all the gear I’ll need when I get there.

Ford Puma ST 2021 ST steering wheel

As the top model in the Puma line-up, it’s fair to say that the ST is pretty exhaustive when it comes to standard equipment, including certain notable features that I’ve got used to ticking on options lists. It comes with Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system, with sat-nav to take the guesswork out of driving to photographic locations, while a wireless charging pad for my phone eliminates the need to drape cables all over the place. ST trim also brings an upgraded Bang & Olufsen stereo system with 10 speakers, to do full justice to BBC 6 Music’s output through the standard DAB radio.

Generous though the standard kit list is, a few choice morsels from the options list stood out as worth having. The Driver Assistance Pack (£600) was one; it gives me adaptive cruise control to ease the strain on the motorway, as well as blind-spot monitoring for extra lane-changing safety. It also adds front parking sensors to the standard rear ones, with a rear-view camera to save me from torturing my neck to look behind when I’m reversing.

I also went for the handsfree power tailgate (£350), because I’m in and out of the boot all day long swapping one set of kit for another, and my hands are invariably full of clobber when I need to open it up. I might mention the standard privacy glass here, too; shielding the interior from prying eyes puts my mind at ease when I need to stow photographic clobber on the rear seat.

Ford Puma ST 2021 ST Ford Performance

And finally, I couldn’t possibly have my ST in any colour other than radioactive Kermit, could I? Ford’s Mean Green metallic paint costs £525, but is deliciously unsubtle and matches the Puma’s perky personality to a tee.

In a break from my usual behaviour, in choosing the ST I’ve not made fuel economy as high a priority as I usually do. That said, I’ll be quite happy if it comes close to matching its official 41.5mpg economy figure; it seems pretty reasonable for a 197bhp petrol engine, although I appreciate I might have to exercise a bit of self restraint – and that could be tricky in a car that has adrenaline coursing through its veins. 

Ford Puma ST 2021 long-term photographic platform

And although it’s fun that I’m looking for with the Ford, I can’t afford for practicality to be forgotten. I’m hoping that it will add joy to my working day, rather than making life more difficult, while still excelling as a workhorse.

Am I my own worst enemy, though, for choosing such a highly-strung machine for daily duty? Will it add a touch of colour to an otherwise drab day, or will it turn me green around the gills? Watch this space.

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