Pouncing into the performance compact SUV scene like a bright green frog, the all-new Ford Puma ST promises complete versatility by presenting practical and eco-friendly fundamentals, paired with the underpinnings and engineering of the cracking Fiesta ST.
You could describe the Puma ST as, pretty much, an SUV version of the Fiesta ST. It’s based on the same platform and features the same 1.5-litre turbo three-cylinder motor, producing 147kW and 320Nm. It also features a six-speed manual transmission and a tight front-wheel drive system, with an optional limited-slip differential.
Ford says 0-100km/h can be done and dusted in just 6.7 seconds, making it one of the zippiest SUVs in its class. In fact, right now, there are no direct rivals. The closest competitor will be the upcoming Hyundai Kona N, however, it is positioned a segment larger, according to the Australian Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries – may be different overseas.
Developed by Ford Performance engineers, the Puma ST uses a bespoke sports suspension setup and optimised chassis. Special Hitachi twin-tube dampers are used at the front and rear, with unique bump-stops, while the steering ratio is around 25 per cent quicker than the regular Puma. Also helping with handling are a set of Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres mounted on ST-exclusive 19-inch alloy wheels.
Further than that, the Puma ST comes with a performance braking package that includes 325mm front discs (17 per cent larger than the standard items), and 271mm rear discs. The brake booster is also tweaked to help provide improved brake pedal feel and feedback, with red calipers to top it off.
Like the Fiesta ST, the Puma ST showcases a sporty interior. Recaro sports seats are featured in the front to provide excellent support and comfort, while the rear bench is contoured to match. There’s also a flat-bottom ST steering wheel and ST gear selector. The steering wheel features a driving mode button for easy access to the Normal, Eco, Sport, and Track driving modes.
The Puma ST is being pitched as a very modern and convenient package, just like the regular Puma. An 8.0-inch touch-screen media interface is embedded on the dash. It runs Ford’s SYNC 3 operating system, complete with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, sat-nav, and all connected up to a premium B&O sound system. The driver is also treated to a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.
Boot space is rated at an impressive (for the class) 456 litres, and there’s even an innovative under-floor storage system called ‘Ford MegaBox’. It provides 80L of storage alone, and is perfect for keeping smaller items secure. Speaking about the new model, Stefan Muenzinger, Ford Performance manager for Europe, said:
“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. 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.”
The Ford Puma ST will go on sale in Europe, priced from £28,495 in the UK. Why are we mentioning UK prices? Well, unfortunately, there are no firm plans for the ST to be introduced in the Australian market. The regular Puma, including the ST-Line, will go on sale in Australia next week priced from $31,990. Those interested in a petite performance package from Ford Australia have the Fiesta ST to turn to.