Ford has unleashed a high performance version of its Puma ST which introduces Ford Performance driving dynamics to the compact SUV segment for the first time in Europe, writes Trish Whelan.
The ST version offers heart-pumping thrills with its 200hp 1.5 EcoBoost engine that can deliver a 0-100km/h time of 6.7 seconds, a top speed of 220km/h (137mph) and 320Nm torque. This is the same turbo petrol engine as in the Fiesta ST.
An optimised chassis features bespoke twist-beam, anti-roll bar and damper configurations. Steering responses are 25pc faster and brakes 17pc larger than the standard Puma. Specially-developed Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres also help deliver the most agile Ford SUV driving experience yet.
The Puma ST is the only small performance SUV in Europe to be offered with an LSD which optimises front-end traction to enhance cornering ability and minimise understeer, in particular on exiting corners.
Drive Modes include a Sport mode, and - for the first time on a Ford Performance car- an Eco mode. The high door line emphasises the sportiness of the car and the bolstered Recaro sports seats hold the driver and front passenger firmly, but comfortably, in place.
This is also a practical car and comes kitted with the Ford MegaBox for best-in-class loadspace of 80 litres of storage beneath the boot floor. This ‘box’ can hold two sets of golf clubs standing up. The total loadspace is 456 litres.
Ford anticipate 6.0 L/100km fuel efficiency and 134g/km C02 emissions (6.9 L/100km and 155 g/km WLTP).
Standard items on the car we drove included 19-inch Magnetite machined alloy wheels; fixed LED signature headlamps; black painted contrast roof; dual chrome exhaust; red brake calipers; the selectable driver modes’ ST suspension; the engine sound enhancer, the Recaro sports seats, an ST flat-bottomed steering wheel and alloy sports pedals.
The ST Performance Pack, at €1,172 was an additional option as was the Driver Assistance Pack at €1,456. The new Puma ST is available from €41,813. The entry price for the standard Puma is from €26,069. (Prices exclude delivery and related charges).
“Real driving enthusiasts aren’t going to settle for less excitement just because life demands a more ‘sensible’ car, so our number one priority was that the Puma ST had to be as exhilarating and capable as every ST model, without sacrificing any of Puma’s practicality,” said Stefan Muenzinger, Ford Performance manager, Europe.
"We believe that we have the best-handling small SUV in its segment. It really does feel connected and has the true ST feel. It is a joy to drive.”
We can endorse that having enjoyed a short introductory test drive in the Puma ST during the past week taking the car through Dublin suburbs and out on to the M50 motorway and really enjoyed hearing enhanced throaty growl of the 3-cylinder engine when we revved it up. The six-speed manual was a pure joy to use but an automatic is available.
This is a car that can deliver hot-hatchback thrills when appropriate yet behaves perfectly when driven through city suburbs, towns and villages.