By Breda Corrigan
Ford launched its impressive Puma SUV in 2020, and have now added some performance flavour in the form of the new Ford Puma ST. With a starting price of €41,813 (ex works), the Puma ST is aimed at buyers who want to mix performance-car pace with usable SUV space.
Fiesta ST Underpinnings;
The Puma ST is based on the same underpinnings as the mighty Ford Fiesta ST. Under the bonnet lies the same 1.5-litre Ford Ecoboost 200PS petrol engine but with torque boosted to 320Nm, and this helps the Puma ST match the Fiesta’s 0-100km/h time of just 6.7 seconds. Also like the Fiesta, power is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox. However, the Puma’s exhaust note is tuned to be slightly less noticeable than the Fiesta ST and this is done to make the Puma ST a more practical family car. To ensure that the 3cm taller Puma ST feels as agile as its smaller sibling, the car benefits from a faster-acting steering, stiffer suspension and Michelin Pilot Sports tyres developed especially for Ford. The ST adds some very comfortable Recaro sports seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel with ST badging, some new pedals and a sporty gear knob. Wireless charging for smartphone devices, parking sensors front and rear, and a 12.3 inch digital drivers display are all standard features.
Designed To Stand Out;
With the Puma’s distinctive frontal design and smart looks from the rear, the ST has similar bumper designs to the existing ST-Line trim, but with selective use of black paint and different mesh patterns for the grille. A contrasting black finish is applied to the roof, the rear spoiler, the door mirrors and the window trim, while the standard 19-inch alloy wheels are offered in two different finishes. The “Mean Green” paint finish of my test car is in keeping with Ford’s performance cars of the past, but it can be ordered in subtle colours as well.
Impressive Tech & Spec;
The new Puma is available in a choice of five specifications – Titanium, ST-Line, ST-Line X, range-topping ST Line X Vignale and now with the newly introduced ST, for performance car buyers. Exclusive ST features include 19” Magnetite machined alloy wheels, unique ST elements to front and rear body styling kit including Ford Performance embossed splitter, fixed LED signature headlamps, Black painted contrast roof, dual chrome exhaust, red brake calipers, ST logo projection (from door mirrors), ST suspension, selectable drive modes – normal/eco/sport/track, engine sound enhancer, front and rear parking sensors, Ford KeyFree system (keyless entry), ST flat-bottomed steering wheel with metal grey stitching, Recaro sports seats with ST logo finished in partial leather and Miko Dinamica, heated steering wheel, front heated seats, unique ST gear shift knob, ST scuff plates, ST front & rear mats and alloy sports pedals. Optional extras fitted to my test car include an ST Performance Pack (Mechanical Limited Slip Differential (LSD), Launch Control, Performance Shift Light and Shift Indicator – priced at €1,172) and a Driver Assistance Pack (AEB by Radar/Camera, BLIS with CTA and Active Braking, Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with Evasive Steering, Active Park Assist, and a rear view camera – priced at €1,456).
The Puma ST’s seats and driving position are fantastic, it’s precise and sporty gearshift, responsive clutch pedal and progressive brakes make it a really easy car to drive. It has a stiffer sports suspension for an even firmer ride – particularly when driving on bendy roads – and the ST’s overall road holding ability is inspirational. The steering gives a good sense of connection to the front wheels which adds to the overall driving enjoyment, while a myriad of standard safety systems provide added driver confidence behind the wheel. The Ford Puma was awarded a full five stars when tested by Euro NCAP – like the Fiesta upon which it is based – and there is also a lot of autonomous technology available.
MegaBox Boot Storage As Standard;
The boot space in the Puma measures in at 456-litres, while extra practicality comes courtesy of an 80-litre waterproof storage box (which Ford calls MegaBox). Ingeniously, this MegaBox is essentially a storage space lined with waterproof and hard-wearing plastic, and has a drain plug at the bottom to release any liquid residue. Even without the MegaBox the Puma’s boot is a practical space, with an uninterrupted one-metre width and a moveable floor that offers either maximum space, or a large flat load space with the seats folded. The parcel shelf is flexible and attached to the tailgate, so it doesn’t get in the way or require any hinges in the loadspace that would eat into storage and can carry up to 565kg.
Pricing & Verdict;
While pricing for the new Ford Puma starts at just €26,069 (ex-works), the full-fat ST model is priced at €41,813 (ex-works).The Puma ST is a welcome performance-car addition to the smaller end of Ford’s SUV line-up, and is a very appealing proposition in every respect. It is fun to drive, practical and sporty, and is a very dynamic car with strong cornering ability, and a dignified ride quality, which is hard to match in the performance class.