What Car? says...
As every amateur football player knows, when you're buying a new set of boots, you’re probably best staying clear of colours that make you a target – you know, the lime greens, hot pinks and medallion golds. Because to wear such a colour means you have to at least back it up with a performance worthy of Cristiano Ronaldo on the pitch.
It’s much the same with picking a hue for your new car, and in the case of the new Ford Puma ST’s launch colour, Mean Green, it has in effect just strapped on a pair of luminous Nike Superfly football boots. So is this a classic case of “all the gear, no idea”, or does the latest addition to Ford's lineup of ST performance models have the moves to back up its Incredible Hulk paint job?
Well, the Puma ST is based on the same underpinnings as the Ford Fiesta ST, so in theory, what we should have here is a more practical, family-friendly version of one of our favourite hot hatches. Under the bonnet lies the same 197bhp 1.5-litre turbo three-cylinder engine as the Fiesta ST, but with torque boosted from 214lb ft to 236lb ft. And as with the Fiesta, drive is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox.
All of that extra grunt would be for nothing, however, if this top-heavy SUV wasn’t entertaining in the bends. So, to ensure the 3cm taller Puma ST feels just as agile as the smaller Fiesta hatch, it also benefits from a structure that is 40% stiffer than the regular Puma, along with a 25% quicker steering rack, stiffer suspension, beefier anti-roll bars, an optional mechanical limited-slip differential and trick Michelin tyres developed specifically for Ford.
If that all sounds rather serious by ‘hot SUV’ standards, well, it is – Ford sees the Puma ST as a car intended more for Fiesta ST owners whose families have grown out of their cars, rather than a performance SUV for posers. Which brings us neatly on to price. The Puma ST, despite its punchy performance, is significantly cheaper than more ‘premium’ rivals such as the all-wheel drive Cupra Formentor and Volkswagen T-Roc R. Sounds compelling, right?
Over the next few pages we’ll compare how it performs against those rivals. And if your appetite for a Sports SUV has already been wetted, our New Car Buying service makes it an absolute cinch to find a great deal on your next set of wheels.
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