Ford Puma - 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
Ford’s reputation for fun family cars has been sealed with recent generations of models like the Focus and (now discontinued) 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 SUV, 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.
When we tested 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 fine job with the Puma’s suspension.
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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 give the Puma brilliant composure and the ability to offer an engaging drive.
The Puma ST is based on the sublime Fiesta ST hot hatchback, which means a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine under the bonnet, making the same 197bhp. With 320Nm of torque delivered from just 1,600rpm, it has enough low-down grunt to keep things interesting, while its quick steering helps to inspire confidence along twisty roads. When we tested it against rival hot SUV, the Hyundai Kona N in 2022, the Puma came out on top. The ST lineup also includes a 168bhp variant with automatic transmission - torque is slightly down on the manual car at 248Nm.
0-62mph 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.
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 210Nm torque served up by the base model is enough for most family motoring, propelling the Puma to 62mph in 9.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 119mph.
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. The 197bhp ST performance model dispatches the same sprint in 6.7 seconds, with a 137mph maximum, while the 168bhp ST auto version is predictably a little slower - needing 7.4 seconds to get to 62mph, before reaching a 130mph top speed.
In this review
- 1Ford Puma reviewThe Ford Puma is a stylish, practical compact SUV that’s good to drive, but lacks cabin space
- 2Engines, performance and drive - currently readingThe Puma’s proven 1.0-litre EcoBoost units are a known quantity, but the mild-hybrid system isn’t flawless
- 3MPG, CO2 and running costsFord uses proven 1.0-litre petrol engines for the Puma, with mild-hybrid technology helping to improve economy and emissions
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe Ford Puma has a familiar cabin design and good levels of standard kit, but overall quality isn't a match for some rivals
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceAlthough smaller than most rivals, the Ford Puma remains practical for family use and offers clever storage solutions
- 6Reliability and safetyThe Puma features decent levels of standard safety kit, while reliability should be good, too