Ford Puma 1.0 ST

Line X

Ford Puma ST-Line X Vignale, 2021, side
Ford Puma ST-Line X Vignale, 2021, side
Ford Puma ST-Line X Vignale, 2021, rear
Ford Puma ST-Line X Vignale, 2021, interior
Ford Puma ST-Line X Vignale, 2021, boot
Ford Puma, 2019, boot, underfloor

SO, the Ford Fiesta is a tad too small for you, and the Kuga definitely on the bulky side.

Before you consider leaving the Ford brand, take a look at a smaller feline, ie the Puma.

Based on the evergreen Fiesta, this is a small SUV with a deceptively roomy cabin and enough luggage space for a family holiday.

What's more, like its smaller hatchback brother, is available as a mild hybrid, boosting economy and acceleration and bristling with modern technology.

As with most Fords, there is an array of engine options, but the one we favour and drive here is the diminutive 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder petrol engine supported by a small battery which allows the stop-start system to shut the engine down in slow moving traffic and keep it switched off for longer.

The system aids economy and also increases engine torque, a win-win situation then. Despite the relatively small capacity, the unit knocks out a healthy 124bhp endowing the five-door with lively acceleration - 62mph comes up in under 10seconds, beating most of the opposition.

A six speed manual box is standard issue, but the seven-speed, twin clutch automatic is an absolute treat and well worth the premium if you do a lot of town driving.

Like both the Fiesta and the larger Focus, the Puma is a sharp handler, and among the most agile small SUVs on the market. It steers precisely and the suspension soaks up the bumps nicely but rolls little during fast cornering. It's one of the few of its breed that's serious fun to drive.

Activate the Sport button and responses are sharpened up and there's a distinct snarl from the exhaust.

On the economy side of things, most owners will nudge towards the 50mpg mark. But bury the accelerator pedal into the floor and this figure will slump to under 40mpg.

The cabin is roomy enough, particularly for those in the front seats with decent leg and shoulder space. Legroom in the back is less generous and headroom is tight if you're more than six foot. Plenty of trays, bins and cubbies to park your clutter and the boot is really spacious with room for 456 litres of luggage space.

There's also a deep area beneath the floor where you can hide away any valuables. Fold the rear seats down and there's space of more than 1,200 litres of cargo.

There's a sense of déjà vu sitting the Puma's cabin because much of the switchgear and dials are the same as the Fiesta. They all work nicely and are well laid out but it lacks the style and upmarket feel of some of its rivals and some of the plastics used feel a touch bargain basement.

Driver and passengers sit slightly lower than in most comparable crossovers which could disappoint some prospective buyers who choose an SUV for its extra height.

No shortage of standard kit. Parking sensors, forward collision warning with automatic braking, cruise control, lane keeping steering, and rain sensitive wipers are all there. And the ‘quick clear' windscreen proves an absolute delight during icy winter mornings.

FAST FACTS

Ford Puma 1.0 ST Line X

Price: £28,770

Mechanical: 1.0-litre, 124bhp,3 cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 125mph

0-62mph: 9.6sec

Combined MPG: 53.3

Insurance Group: 14

C02 emissions: 139g/km

Bik rating: 31%

Warranty: 3 yrs/60,000 miles

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