Parkers overall rating: 4.4 out of 5 4.4

Should you buy a Ford Puma SUV?

Ford already has a small SUV with the EcoSport, but it’s fair to say the Puma has beaten this ageing equivalent in all departments – with a better selection of more modern engines, unrivalled handling dynamics, a nicer interior and a practical and flexible boot too.

The Puma was always going to be good to drive thanks to its Fiesta chassis, but what’s really impressive is how Ford hasn’t simply relied on that fact to push sales and rival the Renault Captur and Nissan Juke.

It’s also incredibly practical - not just because of the Megabox boot enhancer, but also down to clever touches like completely flat boot walls and a parcel shelf attached to the tailgate where it’s out of the way.

New mild hybrid engines that boost economy and performance put the Puma ahead of its rivals in the powertrain sophistication stakes, while a much more modern interior than the EcoSport means the bold exterior design continues inside the car.

Those orb-like headlights and gaping grille won’t appeal to all, but we think the Puma’s divisive styling looks better in the metal and will soften with time - at the very least, you can’t call it boring or derivative.

The lack of all-wheel drive means this is not going to suit mud-plugging adventurers quite so well as something like the Suzuki Jimny, so it’s likely to attract those looking for a more practical version of the Fiesta while being a bit more special than a Focus.

If that’s what you want then the Puma is a very easy sell – fun to drive, economical to run, interesting to look at and flexible in use.

The ST-Line X Vignale is pricey for what it is, considering you still don't have powered seats or a powered tailgate for the near-£30,000 price. Bar the sumptuous leather seat upgrade, you are essentially paying extra for cosmetics, such as the unique wheels, front centre grille finish and additional interior stitching. You can also spec the majority of this model's toys and tech individually on other models.

The 125hp mild hybrid engine with the manual gearbox is fine for most, but we'd be tempted to go for the 155hp version if it falls into budget.

We'd suggest avoiding the automatic gearbox, if you can, as it's only available with a non-mild hybrid version of the lower-powered engine. As a result, it feels a little crude and can sometimes struggle to haul the Puma's heft.

If you want the most powerful and sporting Puma, an ST high-performance model is on the way.

Dealwatch special

Our leasing partner, ZenAuto is offering the Ford Puma for £207 per month. The usual terms and conditions apply.

View deal

Further reading:

>> Everything you need to know about SUVs is here

>> What do we think of the Puma's bigger brother? We test the Ford Kuga

>> Our Parkers star ratings explained