5th July 2021
Hot on the heels and wheels of the Focus ST and Fiesta ST Edition, the Ford Puma ST showed up this week. It rounds off a fast Ford fest of late and makes me think this could be the peak of current car habits. After all, the Puma ST is a crossover, sporty and compact yet big enough to work in town and as a family car. A whole lotta boxes ticked there, but will it tickle my fancy over the course of the week?
I’m not usually a sucker for paying extra for paint on a car, but I would happily shell out the £500 for the Fantastic Red of this Puma ST. It suits the car to a tee, making it stand out while not being quite as in-yer-chops as some of the other colours in the Ford palette. It also works well with the standard black-painted roof, which is another feature I’m not usually fond of. Blimey, I think I’m falling for this car’s charms.
After a couple of days of mundane driving duties, this morning offers the first chance to stretch the legs of the ST. The 200hp 1.5-litre turbo petrol motor is identical to the one in the Fiesta ST, so I know it’s a goodie. With the snicky shifting six-speed manual gearbox, this ST gets from 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds, which is prime hot hatch heartland. It does this without scrabbling the front tyres, so swift progress out of junctions and along country roads is assured.
Another chance to enjoy the ST on some favourite roads this morning while on an errand. The bomb crater surfaces of some sections show just what a fine job Ford has pulled off in making the ST ride superbly while also keeping body lean and jiggle in check. The upshot is you can use the Puma’s performance whenever you like, whereas in the Focus ST you are constantly second-guessing the road to gauge how much tyre shuffle you’ll experience.
Not particular to the ST, but one small point about the Puma that I don’t rate is the rear parcel shelf. It fell down today when I opened the boot and was a fiddle to put back securely. Or so I thought, as it fell out again when I opened the boot on returning from the supermarket. I appreciate the constraints of designing these seemingly simple components, but surely a simpler roller load cover would be better?
Aside from yesterday’s debacle with the load cover, there’s a level of detail to the Puma ST that appeals to me. This is summed up by the front splitter. In most instances, this would be a section of plain black plastic, but Ford has seen fit to emboss it with ‘Ford Performance’ to add a subtle reminder of this car’s intent and ability. It also gives the ST that added air of menace in the looks department.
For around the same money as the Fiesta ST Edition and less than a Focus ST, the Puma ST hits the mark. Yes, the Fiesta is more fun, but the Puma more than compensates with practicality. With 36.0mpg recorded during a week of spirited driving, I could see this edging to 40mpg over a longer period. More importantly, the Puma ST is just more fun than a Focus ST, which is a huge feather in its (baseball) cap.