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Ford Puma ST Test Drive Review

By Motor Match •

Sitting on the same platform as the much-loved Fiesta ST, the new performance Puma aims to bring the fun of the hot hatch with the added practicality of a crossover. Can it do it? Let’s take a look.

New Performance Ford Puma ST

It’s been hard to ignore the rise of the crossover. Across the board, they’re being snapped up by buyers who love the raised driving position they offer and the quirky looks they bring. And, as a result, we’re not getting performance crossovers like this - the new Puma ST.

Sitting on the same platform as the much-loved Fiesta ST, the new performance Puma aims to bring the fun of the hot hatch with the added practicality of a crossover. Can it do it? Let’s take a look.


What’s new on the Puma ST?

The Puma ST follows the same basic recipe as the Fiesta ST. As such, you’ve got a quicker, more focused version of the regular Puma which sits on suspension tuned to make the whole car tighter and more agile. It’s a setup which has paid dividends with the Fiesta, so it makes sense to do the same with the Puma.

However, the Puma still has plenty of family-friendly features as well as smart exterior styling which really does stand out.


What’s under the bonnet?

You get the same engine as the Fiesta ST in the new Puma ST, which means there’s a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol sitting under the bonnet. It produces just under 200bhp and 320Nm of torque, allowing the Puma to go from 0-60mph in 6.5 seconds and hit a top speed of 137mph.

It utilises a six-speed manual which sends power to the front wheels, while a limited-slip differential can be added as an optional extra to boost cornering performance further.

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What’s it like to drive?

Despite being slightly taller than the Fiesta upon which it is based, the Puma is definitely not one of the highest-riding crossovers around. As a result, it means that the Puma rides and handles like a hot hatch.

That revised suspension might be firmer than the standard car’s setup, but it’s still supple enough for UK roads - though it can be a touch jittery at low speeds and over rough surfaces. The engine is brawny and grown-up too, while the six-speed manual gearbox is light but direct. It’s a thoroughly involving package.




How does it look?

The Puma ST benefits from a somewhat beefed-up appearance over the regular car, with a revised grille and chunkier arches giving it a real look of purpose. There are also twin-outlet exhaust pipes at the back to give a clear indication of the car’s performance.

Opt for a subtle colour and most people would be hard-pressed to tell this car apart from the regular Puma.


What’s it like inside?

The greatest addition to the Puma ST’s interior is a pair of excellent Sparco bucket seats which provide a great amount of support - and they look good, too. The materials throughout the cabin are of a decent quality, while the ST also gets some driver mode selection buttons on the steering wheel allowing you to quickly and easily change the car’s setup on the fly.

Plus, the ST retains the standard Puma’s excellent Megabox which adds an area of extra storage under the boot floor. It’s a really handy function.


What’s the spec like?

All Puma ST models bring a lot of standard equipment to the table with features such as Ford’s latest SYNC 3 infotainment system and Apple CarPlay as standard.

The Puma ST also gets a good-looking digital display ahead of the driver which can be configured to show all manner of displays and information.


Verdict

The Puma ST has really shown what a performance crossover can do. It’s great to drive, great to look and surprisingly practical too. It’s likely to appeal to many people, particularly those who still want to have fun behind the wheel without forsaking practicality.

In short, it’s a fitting addition to Ford’s much-respected ST range and one which is bound to be a hit with buyers.

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