Ford Puma ST-Line X

Ford Puma, front
Ford Puma, front
Ford Puma, rear seats
Ford Puma, front
Ford Puma ST-Line X Vignale, 2020, interior
Ford Puma, dashboard
Ford Puma, boot 1
Ford Puma, boot 2
Ford Puma, side

WAY back in 1997 Ford launched the first Puma - a small, fun-to-drive coupe based on the fourth generation Fiesta - and it was an instant hit.

It brought style and desirability to the brand and now Ford has returned to the Puma name but this time for a small five-door SUV.

The new Puma was launched in January but because of the current lockdown you still will not have seen many of them on the road.

The Puma will provide tough competition for the likes of the Renault Captur, Nissan Juke, Fiat 500 X, VW T-Cross, Mazda CX-3 and many others in a crowded market sector. It may be late to the party but it is sure to make an impact.

It shares its chassis and its engines with the current seventh-generation Fiesta and that is no bad thing.

There are plenty of models and engines to choose from and more are on the way. For now you can select from the entry-level Titanium, ST-Line and ST-Line X as well as some First Edition specials.

The Titanium is still well equipped and comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, a leather steering wheel, power folding mirrors, navigation via an eight-inch central touchscreen display, cruise control, rear parking sensors and even a wireless charging pad.

ST-Line models add more standard equipment like a widescreen 12.3-inch digital instrument display and automatic headlamps.

They also add sporty touches including a body-kit, smart alloy wheels, sports seats and pedals and a sports suspension.

ST-Line X adds luxury features such as partial leather upholstery, privacy glass and a 10-speaker audio system from Bang & Olufsen.

The Puma is front-wheel-drive only and buyers can choose from three 1.0-litre three-cylinder engines - two of them with a mild-hybrid system which does not add power but saves on fuel and emissions.

A diesel will arrive later and will also be followed by a hot ST version.

This car featured the most powerful 153bhp engine which always felt lively and willing and is good for 124mph with emissions of 101g/km. It tackles the sprint to 62mph in just 8.9 seconds and I averaged over 47mpg during a week of mixed driving.

Thanks to its Fiesta chassis the Puma handles really well and it enjoys being pushed along on country roads and cruised comfortably on motorways.

It features four selectable drive modes - Normal, Eco, Sport and Slippery and Trail as well as all the latest safety aids.

The interior is functional rather than fancy with an impressive level of kit. It was easy to find a comfortable driving position but if you had anything in the cup holders it made using the old-fashioned manual handbrake difficult.

There was also a little too much harsh black plastic on show but otherwise the cabin offers plenty space for four adults and a lot of storage.

It may have a sporty athletic design but the Puma is still very practical. It has a substantial 456 litre boot and features a clever Megabox hidden storage area.

This is a 68-litre plastic compartment that you can use to store muddy boots or wet items and it has a drain plug so you can hose it out. Ford also claims that using the MegaBox allows you to stand a golf bag upright in the Puma's boot.

The rear seats can also slide forward to increase luggage space to 536 litres.

The £23,770 asking price for the ST-Line X model I sampled seemed reasonable enough but when you added on Desert Island Blue paint at £650 and a First Edition Plus Pack at £3,700 it took the final total to a substantial £27,995.

FAST FACTS

Ford Puma ST-Line X

Price: £23,770

Mechanical: 153bhp, 998cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 124mph

0-62mph: 8.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 54.3 - 40.9

Insurance Group: 15

C02 emissions: 101g/km

Bik rating: 25%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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