Ford Puma Review
The Ford Puma is a Fiesta-sized SUV with loads of boot space.
It keeps its hatchback sibling’s fun-to-drive character. Just note that the back seats aren’t that roomy.
- Fun to drive
- Economical petrol engines
- Spacious boot with waterproof underfloor storage
- Back seats are cramped
- Interior is a bit dull
- ST model is fast but firm
Should I buy a Ford Puma?
The Ford Puma should be high on your shopping list if you’re graduating from a supermini like the Ford Fiesta but need more boot space. It’s good fun to drive and has a solid petrol engine line-up, but doesn’t have as much back-seat space as its rivals.
The Peugeot 2008 is a strong rival for the Puma, with a more interesting cabin – while the Renault Captur is comfier over bumpy roads and the Volkswagen T-Roc has more rear-seat space… but none is as fun to drive as the Ford. If you want a hybrid-powered small-SUV rival, your best bet is the Toyota Yaris Cross.
Interior and technology
The Puma steals its interior wholesale from the Fiesta, meaning it feels reasonably modern thanks to a digital dashboard on most models (except entry-level Titanium models, which make do with regular dials), as well as a bright and reasonably sharp infotainment screen on the dashboard. You can plug your phone in via USB to activate Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and we’d recommend you do so because your phone’s navigation and media apps will be far more responsive and easier to use than the built-in Ford systems.
You won’t find too many luxury touches in the Puma’s cabin, but it feels reasonably well put together – if a bit plasticky lower down on the doors, and with a little too much black fabric and dark trims.
You’ll have no problems getting comfortable behind the wheel of a Puma. What you don’t get, however, is a commanding view over other traffic – you only sit a couple of centimetres higher than in a Fiesta. The view from the driver’s seat is average out the back – thick pillars at the back of the car really restrict visibility over your left shoulder, but that’s par for the course these days.
Tall adults can squeeze into the back of the Puma but won’t be comfortable for more than a short trip to the shops. Child seats fit okay, but larger seats with an Isofix base may brush up against the back of the driver’s seat if the driver is over six feet tall.
Luckily the Puma’s boot makes up for these shortcomings – its 456-litre boot is vast considering it’s not a huge car. There’s a large waterproof 80-litre cubbyhole under the boot floor called the 'Megabox', and it has a drain hole so you can fill it with ice to keep your picnic drinks cool… should you wish.
Engines and performance
The Puma’s engine line-up is simple. You can get it with a range of 1.0-litre petrol engines with either 125hp or 155hp. The 125hp version is fine if you primarily drive around town and don’t mind waiting to get up to 70mph. We’d pick the 155hp version if you want a bit more real-world acceleration and a more relaxed motorway cruise.
Both engines are available with a smooth-shifting 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, but despite the Puma’s rugged looks there’s no four-wheel-drive version – all are front-drive only.
Likewise, don’t be confused by the ‘hybrid’ wording that Ford uses to describe most of the Puma’s engine choices – it’s just to explain that they have mild-hybrid technology, providing a tiny bit of extra power courtesy of a beefed-up starter motor.
Ford also makes the Puma ST, which is a hot-hatch version with 200hp courtesy of a 1.5-litre petrol engine. It’s fun, fast but has annoyingly firm suspension.
Driving and comfort
Ford is famed for making daily drivers that are enjoyable to actually drive, and the Puma’s no different. Like the Fiesta it turns into corners quickly thanks to a fast steering rack, and the three-cylinder thrum from its petrol engines makes snicking through the gears a real joy. Performance from the engines won’t set your hair alight (though the ST model may singe a few follicles), but there’s no other compact SUV that’ll put a grin on your face like the Puma does.
The downsides? Well, the suspension in ST-Line models can be a bit too firm over bumpy roads, but you won’t find the Puma an annoying car to live with, even for long motorway schleps. As we’ve mentioned, the ST model stiffens things up a fair amount, to the extent that you may be waking your kids up if you hit a small pothole.