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In-depth reviews

Ford Puma review - Engines, performance and drive

The Puma’s proven 1.0-litre EcoBoost units are a known quantity, but the mild-hybrid system isn’t flawless.

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Engines, performance and drive Rating

4.2 out of 5

  • Fun, Fiesta-like driving characteristics
  • Strong three-cylinder engines
  • Practical, with clever storage features
  • Slightly cramped cabin compared with rivals
  • Some rivals have better quality interiors
  • No diesel option for now

Ford’s reputation for fun family cars has been sealed with models like the Focus and Fiesta, while the original Puma - though short lived - is another prime example of the Blue Oval’s proficiency in chassis development. 

Much the same can be said of this Puma, thanks in the main to the Fiesta chassis that sits beneath it. It links up with a solid 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine to deliver a family crossover that’s good to drive. 

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When we pitted the Puma up against the Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008, we hailed the Ford as being “easily the best to drive.” The driving position is fundamentally sound, and once you’re settled in, you’ll quickly see why the Puma has won plaudits.

Get on the move and the steering feels light - even if you put the Puma into the Sport mode using the drive mode selector. But, it’s well resolved for a car like this, accurate, keen to re-centre and with a great steering ratio. There’s a good level of grip too, so immediately the Puma feels like a crossover that you can flick through corners nicely. The six-speed gearbox is lovely, too, while Ford’s engineers have also done a good job with the Puma’s suspension. 

Even with the sports suspension on the ST-Line model, the damping is very well set up and it has a decent level of compliance. It all comes together to mean that the Puma has brilliant composure and the ability to offer an engaging drive. 

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

All three engines are based on the same 1.0-litre engine block, but there’s quite a difference between them, owing to the Puma’s various drivetrain technologies and power outputs. 

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More reviews for Puma SUV

The 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine has been a really strong contender in its various applications over the last few years, and the Puma is another vehicle where this small engine shines. It may no longer be the outright best three-cylinder engine on the market and some engines - such as the TSI units used in the Volkswagen Group cars - may be more refined these days, but you shouldn’t be disappointed. 

The 123bhp and 170Nm torque served up by the base model is enough for most family motoring, propelling the Puma to 62mph in 10.0 seconds and on to a top speed of 119mph. However, we’d wager the one to pick is its 48-volt mild-hybrid counterpart, which is only £280 more on the price list. 

Pick this one and the power stays at 123bhp, but torque improves to 210Nm thanks to the small amount of electrical assistance. Top speed is still 119mph, but the 0-62mph time falls a little to 9.8 seconds. The real benefit is lower CO2 emissions from the exhaust pipe and better running costs from improved fuel economy, which we’ll come to on the next page. 

The only downside to the mild-hybrid system is that to fill the small battery pack with energy, the Puma features a very minor amount of brake energy regeneration. It’s set at a constant, unchangeable level, that’s just about detectable when you lift off the throttle and feel the car slow more quickly than it otherwise would, and takes a little getting used to.

If you need more power, the 153bhp car has you covered. It also has braking recuperation that cannot be altered in strength, but it takes 8.9 seconds to reach 62mph from standstill and goes on to a top speed of 124mph. It’s the fastest model for now, until the 197bhp Puma ST arrives.

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