Ford Puma vs Renault Captur - rivals comparison

Both these cars are worth considering if you want a small SUV but which is best?

Ford Puma vs Renault Captur header

It seems like a new small SUV is revealed every week, which might make it difficult if you’re struggling to decide on the right one to buy. Our guide to the best small SUVs is a great place to start but here we’ve compared two of our favourite small SUVs to see which is best.

Ford Puma: old vs new

The Ford Puma was a dinky coupe back in the late 1990s but now the name has returned on Ford’s mid-size SUV offering. Enthusiasts weren’t keen on the name being used for an SUV but it does make sense. Like the original Puma, the new one is heavily based on the Ford Fiesta and is good to drive, and from some angles it’s clear that the rounded styling is inspired by the original model. But you also get usable rear seats, a big boot and plenty of standard features.

The Renault Captur is back for a second generation. We struggled to recommend the first model but this time around the Captur has improved in many areas, and is very good value too. It shares its underpinnings with the Renault Clio and is even available as a plug-in hybrid model - the first small SUV with the tech. But is it the car you should pick? Read on for our verdict.

Styling

We won’t deny that the Ford Puma can look a little froggy in photos but it does look very good in the metal, especially if you pick an ST-Line model with its body kit. It has a much more modern design than the similarly sized Ford EcoSport, and ties in nicely with the latest Ford Focus.

Renault produces some really stylish cars at the moment and that’s what buyers liked about the previous Captur. As a result, there are similarities between the two Captur models, although the new one is smartened up with C-shaped LED light clusters at each end. With the option of four contrasting roof colours, it means there are nearly 30 different colour palette choices available, giving far more scope for personalisation than the Puma.

Interior

Ford Puma interior

If you’re upgrading from a Fiesta or Clio, you’ll instantly be familiar with the screens and controls because most of them are carried straight over to the Puma and Captur respectively. That means Ford buyers get an eight-inch touchscreen mounted on top of the dashboard as standard, while it all feels well put together too. You don’t get any funky trim pieces, though, just dark plastics and leather everywhere - which is a bit of a surprise given how stylish the exterior is.

Renault Captur interior

Material quality has taken a huge jump up in the Captur; the big slabs of hard plastic in the old model have mostly been replaced with soft-touch panels, and it doesn’t feel flimsy at all this time around. We’re pleased that a touchscreen is fitted as standard (base-spec Clios get a basic radio unit), and the upgraded screen you get on S Edition models is even bigger and better. Digital dials are optional and, while they’re standard on most Puma models, the Puma does cost more.

Prices and specs

At the time of writing, you’ll need to pay just over £19,000 to drive an entry-level Captur and £22,000 for the cheapest Puma. However, it’s worth noting that the Puma range starts with Titanium - a mid-range trim on Fiesta and Focus models - and it’s a similar price to the mid-spec Renault Captur Iconic. Renault tends to offer appealing PCP finance deals, and the Captur Iconic may end up being around £30 a month cheaper than a Puma Titanium with the same deposit and number of monthly payments.

Ford Puma alloy wheel option

Standard equipment is good on both models. Both feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, cruise control and automatic headlights. The Captur Play goes without sat nav, rear parking sensors and alloy wheels but does have LED headlights, which are only included on top-spec Pumas.

Safety features are good on both models, with both offering autonomous emergency braking, a tyre pressure monitoring system, lane-keeping assistance and two ISOFIX child-seat mounting points. Both scored the maximum five-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests.

Practicality

Renault Captur boot

The case for a supermini-based SUV is clear when it comes to practicality, as both the Captur and Puma offer more passenger space and a bigger boot than the cars on which they’re based. With its washable MegaBox compartment underneath the boot floor, the Puma not only gets a bigger boot than the Fiesta but the Ford Focus too. The Puma is more spacious in the back than you might expect, as most adults will be perfectly comfortable.

The Puma can’t quite match the versatility of the Captur, however. The Renault’s rear bench can slide backwards and forwards by up to 160mm, which isn’t very common in the small crossover class. Even with the seats pushed right back, there’s still as much boot space as you’d find in a SEAT Arona, while in their most forward position there’s more space than many bigger SUVs. You’ll be needing the seats pushed back if you’re carrying adults in the rear, though, as they won’t be comfortable with the seats fully forward. It’s worth noting that the plug-in hybrid has a smaller boot than petrol and diesel models (like many PHEVs), due to the positioning of the battery.

Fuel economy and performance

Ford Puma driving - side view

Here’s where the two really differ. The Puma offers the best-in-class driving experience, with punchy engines and great handling. There’s a performance-orientated Puma ST model but all are good to drive. If that’s something that’s important to you, the Puma should be at the top of your shortlist. The Puma uses a 1.0-litre ‘EcoBoost’ petrol engine with mild-hybrid technology and, with a manual gearbox, you can expect almost 50mpg. Performance is good too, with every Puma taking 10 seconds or less to hit 0-62mph.

The Captur offers a ‘TCe’ petrol engine with 99 or 128bhp, plus a 138bhp automatic petrol model and even a 94bhp diesel engine, which is becoming rare in cars this size. It’s not bad to drive but Renault’s engines can’t match Ford’s for economy or performance. You can expect 47 and 44mpg from the manual petrol engines, while the diesel and the cheaper petrol are quite sluggish. However, the Captur has something you won’t yet find in rivals: a plug-in hybrid model. Once you’ve stomached the initial higher cost, the Renault Captur E-Tech offers 30 miles of electric driving between charges, and lower running costs than the conventional engines. It’ll appeal to company-car drivers, as BiK tax is a third of any other Captur.

Verdict

The Puma is the best-driving small SUV, so keen drivers will be happiest in the Ford. But if you’re not too bothered about that, the Captur makes a lot of sense. It’s stylish, practical, has an appealing interior and is cheaper than several key rivals. The slightly worse fuel economy shouldn’t be a problem either, given that you’ll likely be paying less per month for a Captur than a Puma. We really like the Captur, so much so that we awarded it our Best Small Family Car for 2021.

Read our guide to the best family SUVs, or check out the upcoming Renault Arkana SUV.

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