Now, I don’t know about you, but I see a heck of a lot of Ford Pumas on the roads these days – so there must be something about the Fiesta-platformed SUV that is floating a lot of boats.
I completely understand the appeal of the fiery ST model (Ford Puma ST Review) and I also enjoyed the ST-Line model, back in 2020 (Ford Puma ST-Line Review). But what about the entry-level Titanium model in 125PS, 6-speed manual guise?
Well, not a lot has changed in the past couple of years and the Puma sports the same Ecoboost engine which continues to impress in both 125PS and 155PS incarnations.
It still has more kerb-appeal than the facelifted Nissan Juke and Renault Captur, although the Vauxhall Mokka is now a real contender since Stellantis started running things. The Peugeot 2008 also has a certain je nais se qua . . .
The good news for Ford fans everywhere is that the Puma is a better driver’s car than all these rivals and in this price bracket you’ll struggle to find a Crossover that is more fun to chuck about.
Power output is either 125PS or 155PS with prices starting at just £25,640 for the Titanium model and rising to a reasonable £29,340 for the luxury-spec ST-Line Vignale. If you’re after maximum exclusivity, there is the Vivid Ruby Edition for £30,490
Equipment levels are impressive – even this entry-level model gets 17″ Alloy Wheels, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Aid, Lane Departure Warning, Automatic Headlights with Rain-Sensing Wipers and Auto High Beam.
Also included are Rear Parking Sensors, Quickclear Heated Windscreen, Ford SYNC 3 Navigation with DAB and 8in Touchscreen. There’s also Selectable Drive Modes – Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery & Trail.
My Titanium model came with a few options: Desert Island Blue paintwork (£675), Winter Pack (heated seats and steering wheel, £350), Driver Assistance Pack (including adaptive cruise-control with evasive steering, active park assist, front parking sensors and rear view camera, £950), Rear privacy glass (£250) and a wireless charging pad (£50).This brought the final price to a shade over £28,000 OTR. Which ain’t bad a stylish, SUV with all the toys (almost).
The interior of the Puma will be familiar to anyone who has previously owned a modern Ford. Everything is laid out well and although some of the lower-down plastics are decidedly on the cheap side, the overall quality is better than almost all its rivals.
With an excellent driving position, comfy seats, good visibility (well, adequate through the rear window), easy-to-use knobs for the temperature controls and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to hand, what more could you ask for?
Okay, so you want boot space as well. The Puma offers 456 litres which trumps most of the competition as well as its own cousin, the Ford Focus. The opening is nice and wide too with a flat floor that should make loading larger items a doddle. Lift that boot floor up and you’ll find a Megabox – Ford’s hidden storage area that’s deeper and more useful than you’d probably imagine.
The rear seats split 60:40 for even more practicality while rear passengers get adequate space although 6-footers will struggle with that sloping roof line.
However, it’s out on the road where the Ford Puma will win you over with its precise 6-speed manual gearshift (a 7-speed auto box is also available), surprisingly communicative steering and an eagerness around bends that should put a smile on your face.
The mHEV system is imperceptible in use, even though the engine may stop running when you’re coming to a halt. This saves fuel while the electrics keep your power-steering, air-con, etc. running. Hit the accelerator again and you won’t even notice the engine kicking-in again – given an extra boost by the electric motor. It’s all seamless and very impressive in execution.
While you won’t be entering your Puma in any drag-races, you’ll find the 0-60mph time of 9.8 seconds very respectable and quicker than the likes of the Nissan Juke, Audi Q2 35 and VW T-Roc. The mHEV 155 model manages an even swifter 9.0 second sprint without being much thirstier.
Where the Titanium model loses out to the ST-Line models (and above) is with ride comfort. It’s just a little too soft for my liking and I found the sportier suspension on the ST-Line model much easier to live with – especially, if like me, your daily commute involves a lot of serpentine-like B-roads. The ST-Line model is still very pliant over pot-holes while feeling capable around the B-road twisty stuff.
The Puma is quiet enough, even at motorway speeds, although I suspect if you go for the larger 18in or 19in wheels, tyre noise may become irksome. Wind noise is well suppressed and the 3-cylinder engine settles down to a muted hum once up to speed. It can be a little vocal at higher revs but no more so than its rivals.
With combined fuel figures of 52.3 mpg for all engine choices and CO2 emissions being a reasonable 122 g/km (combined) you might even consider the Puma as your next company car.
The Ford Puma makes a lot of sense. The standard tech and features are outstanding even on the entry-level model and although some rivals have a lower starting price, you’ll find adding in options to match the Puma will prove costly.
Overall, the entry-level Puma Titanium is a well-equipped and practical sporty looking SUV. The coupe-style roofline marks it out from immediate rivals and at this price point it has to be on your list if you’re in the market for a fun, but practical compact SUV that looks great too.
AT A GLANCE:
Ford Puma Titanium 125PS mHEV
OTR Price: £25,640
Engine: 1.0 EcoBoost with mHEV
Power: 125 PS
Transmission: 6-speed manual
0-62mph: 9.8 secs
Top Speed: 119 mph
Combined Economy: 52.3 mpg
C02: 122 g/km (combined)