Full disclosure... I am not your usual car reviewer. I am not as lucky as Daragh and Robbie who get to test cars each week. But for the busy Christmas period that involved a lot of mileage between various family members I was offered the chance to try out this little pocket rocket.
The first thing I noticed about this performance car is how quiet the engine is, more a purr than a roar. When you unlock it, the mirrors fold out and the ST lighting illuminates the ground. When it locks, the mirrors fold in, no need to worry about being side swiped.
It was my first time driving a sports car and cruising around the local roads, I felt the bumps and potholes, courtesy of the stiffer suspension.
However, the Recaro racing seats save you from the worst jolts - and they are heated as is the steering wheel!
The Puma ST is a dream to drive on the motorway with cruise control and you can switch between sports, eco, normal and racing modes. When stopped at lights or in traffic the engine will turn off to save fuel, but a press of the clutch allows you to take off smoothly and the petrol engine means there’s no delay. I am used to diesel, so it was a pleasant change.
The dashboard has a gear change indicator which will advise you when to go up or down for fuel efficiency. The Puma has six gears, which is initially confusing, coming from a five-gear car.
I drove from Dublin to Roscommon for Christmas and while the motorway was a breeze, I wasn’t sure how it would fare on the country lanes. Heavy rainfall had left my local area saturated, but I felt confident behind the wheel even on the wet roads. It struggled a bit on our muddy uphill farmyard "driveway" but I think most cars would have.
My second Christmas trip took me to Co Louth where I got to enjoy the thrill of racing mode on dual carriageway and it performed well on the tight bends and twists close to the Cooley mountains also.
The Puma's best internal feature is its rearview camera, ideal for parking or reversing in a tight spot. The rear windscreen is on the smaller side which takes some getting used to.
Second is its wireless phone charging dock. No need to mess with USB cables – simply pop your phone on it and let your battery charge while you drive. It also comes with Bluetooth for playing music and handsfree calls.
The heated windscreen demists instantly, and the boot has a removable panel with a well underneath, perfect for stashing a suitcase or hiding shopping from your other half...
The model I drove was a jaunty bright green, which might not be to everyone’s liking but you’d never lose it in the carpark!