Car Reviews Motoring

Ford Puma Review

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Back in the day, if you wanted a small family car, you’d buy something like a Volkswagen Golf or a Ford Fiesta. Y’know? A hatchback.

But those days are gone. Nowadays, everyone wants a slice of the 4×4 action – and that’s seen SUVs appear on the production lines of just about every manufacturer.

So, the Ford Puma could be perfect.

It’s based on the same platform as the now-defunct Fiesta, and its taller stance and raised driving position tick the SUV box. This design puts it on a collision course (hopefully not literally) with the likes of the Volkswagen T-Cross and the Renault Captur.

We took the ST-Line X for a spin, which has a 125PS engine and a seven-speed automatic transmission. It goes from 0 to 62mph in 9.6 seconds and tops out at 118mph.

The Ford is fun to drive. It has a decent amount of torque at low revs, so accelerating away off the line feels good. Indeed, the 125PS engine is more than adequate, so if you’re mainly driving in stop-start traffic, doing the school run, or popping to the shops, it’ll suffice.

The Puma comes with several driving modes, and putting it into ‘Sport’ gives it an extra shove of encouragement.

Around town, the steering feels light and effortless, tightening up at higher speeds so you can tackle twistier backroads with a smile.

The sharp handling in the ST-Line models makes it a class leader in terms of having fun, feeling agile, with plenty of grip, and the body lean in the corners feels well controlled.

While the ST-Line’s sporty looks are more appealing, the sports suspension makes the ride noticeably firmer. As you might expect, the suspension means it’s not quite as comfortable elsewhere as its rivals, such as when driving around town or on motorways.

The Puma’s friendly-faced looks are also stylish and athletic, although the rear is plain by comparison. Regardless, it balances excellently between being cutesy and appealing while maintaining a sporty and aggressive stance, which is challenging to pull off.

Sadly, the Puma’s interior lets it down. It’s essentially a dark affair, and although silver bits of trim are on the steering wheel and dotted around the cabin, they’re not prominent enough.

Visibility is good out of the front, as the pillars have been kept as thin as possible. However, rear visibility is restricted by the tininess of the back windscreen and the angled roofline, which results in thicker rear pillars.

Although the driving position is higher than in a conventional hatchback, it’s not as off-the-ground as some competitors. So, if you want a more commanding vista, that’s worth considering.

The front seats are comfortable and relatively spacious, and all models have driver lumbar support. The seats and steering wheel can be easily adjusted to find a comfortable driving position.

The rear isn’t quite as generous, although you can comfortably fit a couple of adults in the back. But the sloping roofline will make it awkward for taller passengers. You also get Isofix anchor points in the two outer rear seats.

The cabin storage isn’t overly bountiful. Still, there’s a limited amount of room in the door bins, the glove compartment is reasonably sized, and the centre console has enough space for two cups. Plus, you get an average-sized cubby beneath the armrest.

The boot space is pretty good, measuring 456 litres. That’s more extensive than some of the Puma’s adversaries. Moreover, it expands to 1,216 litres with the rear seats down.

Thanks to Ford’s Megabox, you also get an additional 68 litres. This waterproof, drainable container lives underneath the boot floor. So, if the kids have changed out of their soaked clothes at the end of football practice, you can place them in the Megabox out of harm’s way from everything else.

Crash-testing body Euro NCAP awarded the Puma a five-star rating in 2019. The Ford notched up 94 per cent for adult occupants, 84 per cent for child passengers, and 74 per cent for safety assists.

In summary, the Ford Puma is a likeable car that makes driving enjoyable in a modest, unassuming way.

Sharp handling and well-refined engines make it a decent contender. And, in terms of practicality, it’s a match for most of its foes, although some offer more rear-seat space.

The Puma has so much going for it, but it’s a shame a bland interior lets it down.

Nevertheless, it’s quirky, cute, and good-looking, with decent sportiness.

So, if having fun while driving is essential to you, there’s little reason to look elsewhere – unless you want the new Puma – a high-tech evolution of the one we’ve reviewed – that’s available from £25,790. Ford has also announced the fully electric Puma Gen-E – the first Puma to deliver zero-tailpipe emissions driving.

Watch this space for more details!

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