In-depth reviews

Ford Puma SUV - Engines, drive & performance

Fun handling makes the Ford Puma a potential class-leader for enthusiasts

Carbuyer Rating

4.2 out of 5

Engines, drive & performance Rating

4.5 out of 5

Rekindling the Puma model name for an SUV, rather than a small coupe, has been a polarising move among enthusiasts, so does the new Puma have the driver appeal to pull it off? Our experience indicates it's certainly a contender as the most fun crossover, thanks in no small part to its stretched Fiesta underpinnings.

We've heaped praise on the Fiesta's handling, and the Puma feels agile and balanced in a way only Ford's engineers seem to manage in family cars. It's keen to change direction without feeling fidgety, and the movements of the Puma's raised bodywork are kept firmly in check. With sports suspension upgrades, the ST-Line X model we tried doesn't sit any lower, but as well as making it great fun, the stiffer settings and 18-inch alloy wheels make it fairly firm and introduce some added tyre noise.

Ford Puma petrol engines

Both of the Puma's petrol engines are 1.0-litre EcoBoost units with three cylinders and Ford's new mild-hybrid technology, producing 123bhp and 153bhp respectively. Acceleration is competitive for a crossover, with 0-62mph taking nine seconds for the more powerful version with its six-speed manual gearbox, while the 123bhp engine with manual gears is reasonably close behind at 9.8 seconds.

Buying a Puma with the seven-speed automatic gearbox means choosing the lower powered engine, and increases the car’s starting price by around £1,500 or more, depending on the trim level chosen. The time taken to get from 0-62mph increases by a few tenths of a second.

In ST-Line Vignale trim, the automatic gearbox feels jerky when driving at low speeds around town, with an eagerness to shift up very quickly as you move off from a standstill. In our test car, we found the automatic gearbox was easier to operate via the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, which helped make it far smoother to drive. At faster motorway speeds, the gearbox is far less intrusive and helps to make the Puma a reasonably relaxed long-distance cruiser.

Overall, the automatic version of the Puma is not as sharp or as involving to drive as the car with a manual. It’s also a lot more expensive to buy and slightly less efficient, making it difficult to recommend unless you absolutely need an automatic.

At the top of the range is the Ford Puma ST, which we’ve reviewed separately. It’s the most powerful model in the range by some margin with 197bhp, and is powered by the same turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol engine as the Fiesta ST. This makes it the quickest version of the Puma, managing 0-62mph in only 6.7 seconds. It has impressive poise that makes it genuinely satisfying to drive; it’s a rival not only to small fast SUVs but some of the best hot hatchbacks too.

Recommended

Top 10 best small hybrid cars 2022
Hyundai Ioniq plug-in hybrid driving
Best cars
15 Dec 2021

Top 10 best small hybrid cars 2022

Top 10 best used SUVs 2022
Skoda Karoq - front 3/4 view
Best cars
10 Dec 2021

Top 10 best used SUVs 2022

Ford Puma SUV review
Ford Puma SUV driving
Ford Puma
9 Dec 2021

Ford Puma SUV review

Top 10 best used small SUVs 2022
Ford Puma SUV
Best cars
26 Jul 2021

Top 10 best used small SUVs 2022

Most Popular

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
17 Jan 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022

UK road tax 2022: VED tax rates and bands explained
2021 Road Tax explained
Car tax
20 Jan 2022

UK road tax 2022: VED tax rates and bands explained

Top 10 best economical 4x4s, SUVs and crossovers 2022
Peugeot 3008 SUV front cornering
Best cars
6 Jan 2022

Top 10 best economical 4x4s, SUVs and crossovers 2022

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
10 Aug 2021

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
5 Nov 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Car buying
21 Jan 2022

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
23 Jul 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors 2022
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors 2022

Top 10 best electric cars 2022
Ioniq 5
Best cars
19 Jan 2022

Top 10 best electric cars 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
17 Jan 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022
Audi RS 3 driving - front view
Hot hatches
21 Jan 2022

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022