Puma ST-Line 1.0L Ecoboost MHEV 7 speed dual clutch auto. £24,045
Steve Macqueen drove a Ford Puma in the 1990’s Ford TV advert. The advert was to showcase the fab-to-drive Puma coupe, which quickly became a cult. Fast forward 20 years & the Puma has been reborn as a small, practical, five-door SUV. As with the Puma Coupe, it’s based on the Fiesta supermini, sharing its chassis & its engines with Fords best seller.
The are four versions of the Puma; Titanium, ST-Line, ST-Line X & luxury ST-Line Vignale. The Puma ST performance model sits at the top of the range.
Titanium specification is well equipped, coming as it does with 17″ alloys, a leather steering wheel, power folding mirrors, SatNav, an 8″ central touchscreen display, cruise control, rear parking sensors & a wireless charging pad.
ST-Line models add a 12.3″ widescreen digital instrument display, automatic headlamps, an ST-Line bodykit with large rear spoiler, sports suspension& black machine finished 17″ 5×2 spoke alloy wheels.
ST-Line X features part leather upholstery, privacy glass & a 10-speaker audio from Bang & Olufsen. Range topping Vignale further adds heated front seats, front parking sensors, keyless entry & Windsor premium leather upholstery.
Engines & performance
The Puma is front-wheel-drive with three engine options. The EcoBoost 125 uses a 125PS 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine. There’s also a 48-volt mild-hybrid version of this engine with the same 125PS & with the batteries assistance a higher 210 Nm’s of torque, whilst the third option is another 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol with the same mild-hybrid system, but power is increased to 153PS. Top speed is 118mph & 0-62 mph takes 9.6 seconds.
The Puma comes with a selection of driving modes. Default is Normal, Eco saves fuel, Sport increases the fun, with both Slippery & Trail also on offer. The seven speed dual clutch gear box can be configured as an auto, or put into manual mode if you so desire, by pulling the gear stick all the way back toward you & utilising the steering wheel paddles to change gear up or down.
Fuel economy & emissions
The benefit of choosing a Puma fitted with the mild-hybrid system, is better fuel economy. The MHEV captures kinetic energy that’s usually lost while driving during braking & cleverly stores this energy in a small battery. This electrical energy is then used to assist the engine during acceleration, reducing the amount of petrol needed to drive the car forwards. Claimed fuel economy on the combined cycle is 47.1 mpg with CO2 emissions of 137g/km.
All Puma models come with Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system. This includes SatNav, Bluetooth, DAB, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto. There’s also a wireless charging pad as standard. Whilst the system is pretty good, I still struggle to find my favourite DAB station on it. The Apple CarPay connects easily & the steering wheel controls allow you to access the function stop make & receive a phone cal on the move. The SYNC 3 menus are straight forward to decipher & if in doubt, there are separate radio volume/on off/tuning buttons underneath as well as climate controls.
ST-Line cars feature a 12.3-inch digital instrument display which, along with the central touchscreen, is sharp and easy to navigate. And, if you feel the need for better quality audio while on the move, the ST-Line X models add a B&O Premium stereo with 10 speakers.
The Pumas feels quite small inside, especially width-ways. It measures 4,207mm in length, by 1,805mm wide & it’s 1,537mm tall. Despite the narrow cabin, driver & front seat passengers can get comfortable wit good head & leg room. The two front door pockets are massive, the glove box is also a decent size & there’s storage space located underneath the centre armrest. In front of this you also get the wireless phone charger & a small cubby for your keys. In the rear, it’s tight, with head & leg room at a premium & you definitely won’t get three adults in comfortably. The boot features Ford excellent MegaBox extended boot space- 68 litres under the boot floor- & a decent 456 litres of storage.
All models come with cruise control, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Pre-Collision Assist with Autonomous Emergency Braking, Pedestrian/Cyclist Detection & Post-Collision Braking.
Interior quality & cabin light
Theres much to like inside the Puma, especially the dashboard layout & ease of use. However, in & around the
door pockets, glove box & centre binnacle, some of the plastic used feels a little weedy. The colour scheme of black & grey suit the ST-Line, but the cabin is dark because of this & the small windows.
On the road
We were driving the mild-hybrid 7-Speed Dual Clutch version of the Puma, in what is most likely the best selling ST-Line spec, with out test car retailing at £25,045. The only downside to the mild-hybrid system is that the Puma features some low level brake energy regeneration. It’s not that obtrusive, but you can’t turn it off, it’s set at a constant, so the car isn’t quite as engaging as the straight petrol versions.
However, Ford always seem to pull off the trick, of building a small car that’s always great fin to drive & the Puma is no different. Whether driving in Normal, Eco or Sport, the Puma feels nimble & hugs tea road like a proper super-mini GTi of yesteryear. Never mind that the performance in our test car isn’t GTi at all, the 125PS unit convinces you that it is quicker. Of course, if you want more power you can choose the ST Performance which does offer that kind of late 1980’s fun.
In town, the Pumas a joy to drive. No gear changing help but in general it’s smooth & quiet in traffic. Go faster, on the motorway or dual carriageway & the Puma emits a low growl as you put your foot down. In cruise control, it will sit happily & quietly on the motorway, with enough extra power on tap if required to overtake slower moving vehicles. Select Sport & the revs go up & the car injects a bit more fun into your day. On longer journeys, we chose Eco & saw a combined return of 42.3mpg in our seven days on board.
Compared to the competition, that would include the Renault Captur, Nissan Juke, Vauxhall Mokka & Peugeot 2008, the Puma’s the most fun to drive. It’s also a great looking car fro the outside.
It isn’t the most modern inside, nor the best built in it’s class & the cabin does feel a little pokey. There’s no full PHEV or electric version either, so it’s not going to attract many fleet customers.
Driving wise, the Pumas very hard to beat. It’s a small, upright, family car that drives like something much sportier & is comfortably the best car in it’s class as far as drivability goes. From a company car perspective, the lack of a plug-in version means higher BIK as the CO2 emissions are quite high. Opposition in the form of the Captur can be had as a PHEV, whilst the e-2008 & Mokka-e are also available as full electric cars, that latter two offering just 1% BIK. But, if petrol is still your thing, then the Puma is the one to choose.