New Ford Puma ST: lairy baby SUV makes debut

Published: 24 September 2020

► Baby performance SUV has landed
► 197bhp, 6.7sec 0-62mph
► Plus optional LSD

Behold, the official car of the Incredible Hulk has landed. Well, not quite, but you could be forgiven for thinking that with the new Ford Puma ST’s Mean Green paintjob. And yes, this is the performance version of an SUV that replaced a Ford performance car in the first place. Confused, don’t worry – it gets better.

See, the Puma ST is based on the same platform as the Fiesta ST and also happens to share many of its parts, too. So, what you’ve hopefully got here is a more practical version of one of the finest hot hatches of the 21st century. Interested yet?

What makes it a proper ST?

For starters, it’s got the same 197bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder Ecoboost engine as the ST, but – whisper it – torque has been bumped up to 320Nm. Ford reckons it’ll be good for 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds, with a top speed of 137mph, both comparable figures to the Fiesta ST. You’ll also get the same drive modes, with Normal, Eco, Sport and Track all available.

Puma st interior

Power is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox, with a Quaife limited slip differential working in tandem with Torque Vectoring Control to ensure maximum traction at the front end. Ford is also keen to point out that the Puma ST is the first small SUV in Europe to be fitted with an LSD. Who knew, eh?

How else does it differ from a regular Puma?

Aside from the above, there’s been a good number of changes under the skin – and on it. There’s a Ford Performance splitter at the front that increases downforce by 80%, a rear roof spoiler, chunky 19-inch alloy wheels and bolstered Recaro seats in the cabin. It’s also shod with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres, slightly more versatile than the Pilot Super Sports you get as standard on the Fiesta ST.

puma st rear tracking

Steering responses have been quickened up (25% faster than Puma), while the brakes are also 17% larger. What’s more, the rear twist-beam suspension is increased to 2,000Nm/deg torsional stiffness, which, in plain English, is a 40% increase over the Fiesta ST. If it’s not already obvious, this is far more than merely adding a spoiler and whacking the turbo up.

What’s the cabin like?

Pretty much the same as a regular Puma, although there are a few changes. Chief among which are the super-supportive Recaros – even if they do pinch a bit of rear legroom. You’ll also find ST puddle lights (all the rage now), Ford Performance skid plates, a flat-bottomed leather steering wheel and ST gear knob. Something else worth noting is the drive mode selector and performance buttons on the steering wheel (the former is less handily positioned on the centre console in the Fiesta ST).

Puma st interior

The regular Puma’s 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster is included and replaces traditional dials with a TFT screen that displays functions such as media, sat-nav, telephone and vehicle settings. Driver assistance technologies are offered, including Pre-Collision Assist with Active Braking, Active Park Assist, Cross Traffic Alert with Active Braking and Adaptive Cruise Control with Speed Sign Recognition and Lane Centring.

Does it still have that clever boot?

The MegaBox? Yes, it does. The bootspace itself totals up at 456 litres (excellent by class standards) but it’s the 80-litre MegaBox that really sets it apart. Hidden under the main boot floor, it features a ‘plug hole’ in the bottom so it can be easily hosed down and – if you’re into golf – it can take two golf bags in their fully upright position.  Clever.

Anything else I need to know?

Orders for the Puma ST will be opening in October 2020, with prices starting from £28,495. Want one with that limited-slip differential? Add £950 onto that.

Oh yes, and if you don’t fancy the zany Mean Green hue, other colours are also available – including Agate Black, Desert Island Blue, Fantastic Red, Frozen White and Magnetic. But go for the green, you know you want to.

Check out our Ford reviews

By James Dennison

Head of automotive video for CAR magazine and our sister website