Review: Ford Puma (2020)
Fiesta-based crossover is excellent to drive. Surprisingly practical. Generous amount of standard equipment.
Slightly claustrophobic rear seats. Not as cheap as the EcoSport.
Ford Puma (2020): At A Glance
It may share its name with a sporty little coupe from the 1990s, but the new Puma is actually a crossover SUV to rival the Nissan Juke, Volkswagen T-Roc and Honda HR-V. Like its namesake, it’s based on the Fiesta, yet it offers class-leading practicality, a fun driving experience and mild-hybrid engines.
From launch, the Puma’s initially available with Ford’s popular 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost petrol engine, with a 1.5-litre EcoBlue diesel to follow. Buyers can choose from two power outputs - 125 or 155PS, both with mild-hybrid technology to improve fuel efficiency.
While the more powerful engine is a sportier offering and makes sense if you regularly drive at motorway speeds with several passengers, the standard 125 unit will be sufficient for most buyers. It’s a quiet and refined engine, although the Puma’s crossover dimensions means there is a little wind noise at higher speeds.
Unlike the lacklustre EcoSport, the Puma is as fun to drive as we’ve come to expect from a Ford. Like the Fiesta, it’s ahead of the competition in the way it corners, with little in the way of body lean and excellent, communicative steering. It’s also good to drive around town, thanks to its impressive visibility and tight turning circle.
Things are good inside, too. It’s very similar to the latest Fiesta, with lots of seemingly high-quality materials and a generous amount of standard equipment. The extra practicality compared to the Fiesta means it’s genuinely useable as a family car - it might be smaller, but we can envisage people choosing a Puma over the Focus. While adults might feel a tad cramped in the rear, there’s plenty of space for children, and the boot is clever and well thought out.
There's not much going against the Puma. Not everyone will appreciate its looks, while it looks pricey alongside the EcoSport, you get what you pay for - and it's certainly no more expensive than the likes of the Volkswagen T-Roc and Peugeot 2008.
What does a Ford Puma (2020) cost?
Buy a used Ford Puma from £21,500
Ford Puma (2020): What's It Like Inside?
For a small crossover SUV that leads on style and driving dynamics, the Puma is very practical. The boot can take an impressive 456 litres of luggage - that’s more than a Focus - and access is a useful metre wide. There’s a bit of a lip for hoisting things over - not great if you regularly carry heavy items or need to transport a dog - but that’s a price you pay for choosing a crossover over an estate car.
Not only is there an adjustable boot floor, there’s also a very handy square luggage area underneath. Ford calls this the ‘megabox’. With its 80-litre capacity it can transport a surprising amount, while its hard-wearing lining means it’s useful for carrying things like muddy boots or vegetables from the allotment. There’s even a drain plug so you can hose it out if required.
Ford’s also proud of its clever tailgate-mounted parcel shelf. This doesn’t get in the way when loading bulky items in the same way as a regular parcel shelf.
Up front, the Puma’s cabin is very similar to the Fiesta’s. There are a few hard plastics here and there to remind you you’re driving a Ford rather than something more premium (the handle for the glove box, for example), but by and large the finish is excellent.
A combination of increased ground clearance and higher-mounted seats mean you'll sit 60mm higher than in a Fiesta, giving you a good view of the road ahead - the reason many people buy crossovers like the Puma.
Digital dials with crisp, clear graphics are standard on ST-Line and ST-Line X models. There's also an eight-inch digital screen in the centre of the dash, providing access to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This is an easy and responsive enough system to use.
There's a reasonable amount of space in the rear, although it is slightly claustrophobic - especially for children, thanks to the rising window line.
In terms of standard equipment, the Puma is generously equipped. There isn't a low-spec entry-level model - the cheapest you can buy is the Titanium, which comes with highlights such as 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control and the aforementioned eight-inch touchscreen navigation system.
Standard equipment (from launch):
Titanium models feature black 17-inch alloy wheels, projector headlights with LED daytime running lights, front fog lights with cornering lights and LED rear lamps, leather steering wheel, cruise control with lane keeping aid and lane departure warning, wireless phone charging pad, automatic headlights with rain-sensing wipers and automatic high beam, Ford SYNC 3 navigation with eight-inch display, DAB radio, BlueTooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, rear parking sensors, alarm, Quickclear heated windscreen, lumbar massage seats (driver and passenger), selectable drive modes, folding exterior door mirrors with puddle lights, pre-collision assist, centre console with armrest.
ST-Line adds an ST-Line bodykit with large rear spoiler and sports suspension, flat-bottomed leather steering wheel and aluminium gear knob (manual only), digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster, manual air conditioning, alloy sports pedals, front and rear floor mats.
ST-Line X features 18-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, electronic air temperature control, B&O premium audio system, driver and passenger seat lumber and height adjust, partial leather trim, carbon-look interior highlights.
Child seats that fit a Ford Puma (2020)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Ford Puma (2020) like to drive?
Ford makes a big deal out of the Puma being offered with mild hybrid engines. While the Puma isn't a true hybrid like the Toyota C-HR, it uses a belt-driven generator to recuperate energy normally lost during braking or coasting.
As well as a small fuel economy benefit, this also provides a minor boost in performance - particularly before the turbocharger kicks in, reducing the lag traditionally associated with turbocharged cars. It also allows the engine to switch off as you come to a halt, although don't expect to travel any meaningful distance under electric power.
The Puma's initially sold with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine available with 125 or 155PS. The lower-powered unit is available with or without the mild hybrid system, while the 155 model comes exclusively as a mild hybrid.
The more powerful model is easy to recommend - it's actually very fun to drive, with plentiful performance combined with a characterful three-cylinder soundtrack. It'll cover 0 to 62mph in 9.0 seconds, quicker than equivalent three-cylinder rivals - although it feels even more sprightly than that.
The 125PS model will be sufficient for most drivers, though. And no matter which engine you choose, the manual gear change is delightful, with a slick change and light clutch.
The Puma also corners exceptionally well. It's just like the Fiesta, with keen handling and little in the way of body lean. There's a lot of grip on offer and the steering is delightful, providing a huge amount of feedback. You don't have to drive the Puma hard to appreciate how good it is to drive, even at low speeds it's easy to place and its agility adds to the fun factor around town.
There's a little bit of wind noise at motorway speeds, but nothing more than you'd expect from a crossover SUV. Its ride is a little on the firm side, too - if you're after comfort, you might be better with a Volkswagen T-Roc.
Selectable drive modes are standard across the range, giving you the ability to select between Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Trail. These are pretty pointless, though - a manual gearbox and passive suspension means the only real giveaway that you've changed drive mode is a change in the display on the instrument cluster.
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