Used test: Ford Puma vs Nissan Juke vs Volkswagen T-Roc

These are three of our favourite small SUVs, but which makes the best used buy: the sporty Puma, the classy Juke or the comfy T-Roc?...

Used Ford Puma vs Nissan Juke vs Volkswagen T-Roc ('19 plate)

The Contenders

Ford Puma 1.0 Ecoboost mHEV 155 ST-Line X

List price when new £23,645
Price today £20,000*
Available from 2019-present

A class favourite, the fun-to-drive Puma appeals to the head and heart


Nissan Juke 1.0 DIG-T 117 Tekna+

List price when new £23,895
Price today £20,000*
Available from 2019-present

The latest Juke offers more space and improved quality over the previous model


Volkswagen T-Roc 1.0 TSI 115 Design

List price when new £23,005
Price today £20,000*
Available from 2018-present

Being a competent, comfortable allrounder, the T-Roc is a doddle to live with 

*Price today is based on a 2019 model with average mileage and full service history according to the What Car? Valuation service, correct at time of writing


Have you ever been overwhelmed with choice? If you're shopping around the used small SUV market, chances are you have. There is an ocean of options that look to be similarly (if not equally) matched on price and engine size, making navigating the space appear akin to deciphering a pirate's treasure map. 

Although, never fear, What Car? is here. We know how to crack the code and tell the class leaders from the duds, and an option that we can confidently tell you is great is the Ford Puma. In fact, it was crowned our overall 2020 Car of the Year because of its excellent driving experience and fuel-sipping efficiency, among other commendable attributes.

Ford Puma rear

We could end it there, but it isn't 2020 any more – and we're not looking at the Puma as a new car. It needs to be put to the test yet again as a present-day used buy, hence we've brought along two of its fiercest rivals, the ever-popular Nissan Juke and capable Volkswagen T-Roc. All three competitors are three-year-old cars with savings of around £3500 off new. 

Has the Puma retained its award-winning spark or is small SUV gold now best found elsewhere? Read on to find out. 


Driving

Performance, ride, handling, refinement

Each of our contenders has a 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine under its bonnet, so you might assume the differences in performance would be tiny. In fact, they’re huge; the Puma makes its rivals seem positively tardy, pulling with far more urgency at low revs and taking several seconds less time to accelerate from 30-70mph when you work the engine hard.

Nissan Juke rear

The Juke and T-Roc are more closely matched, although the T-Roc always has the edge, whether you’re pulling from low revs in a high gear or revving the engine hard to extract every morsel of performance. Yet despite coming up short in this company, the Juke rarely feels sluggish.

In fact, you’re more likely to be irked by its woolly gearshift. In the T-Roc, changing gear is an altogether more pleasant experience and, thanks to a more feelsome clutch pedal, the VW is also an easier car to drive smoothly. Again, though, the Puma wins the day here, with the most positive clutch pedal and a delightfully precise gearshift that’s a joy to snick back and forth.

The Puma’s 48-volt mild hybrid system (that’s the mHEV bit) deserves special mention; it shuts the engine off when you’re coming to a stop to save fuel, while keeping the steering and brakes supplied with power. Engage a gear at a standstill and the engine comes back to life in the blink of an eye, before a small electric motor lends a hand when pulling away to ease the load on the engine. The engines in the other cars also shut off automatically, but only when you come to a standstill, and they take longer to start up again.

Volkswagen T-Roc rear

If you enjoy driving, the Puma will win your heart in other ways, too. It’s super-agile by small SUV standards, darting into bends with little body lean, whether you’re just scooting around a roundabout or flying down some fast country lanes.

Then there’s the steering, which gives you by far the best sense of connection with the front wheels, something you’ll really appreciate no matter how quickly or slowly you’re driving.

Again, the Juke and T-Roc are left fighting it out for the runner-up spot when it comes to cornering skills. The Juke’s tyres generate more grip and it leans slightly less when you’re tackling tight twists and turns, but the T-Roc is actually more confidence-inspiring to drive, due mainly to its better weighted, more precise steering.

New Ford Puma & Nissan Juke vs Volkswagen T-Roc

Unsurprisingly, the firm suspension that helps to keep the Puma’s body propped up through corners does make for a relatively firm ride. However, in some respects, it’s actually more comfortable than the Juke; you feel sharp-edged bumps more abruptly in the Puma, but many will find the Juke’s incessantly choppy ride more annoying.

However, there’s no doubt that the T-Roc is the one to choose if you really value comfort – it has one of the smoothest rides in the class.