What is it?
The latest addition to the fast Ford model line up, the Puma ST is a car about which even the staunchest critic of modern market trends and showroom tastes might quite easily allow himself to get at least a little excited. Disregard the rather confusing route by which this jacked-up, slammed-down fast compact crossover hatchback has made it off the drawing board if you need to, and concentrate instead on the alluring technical detail.
This is, after all, a five-door, 4.2-metre hot hatchback of around 200-horsepower with driven front wheels, a six-speed manual gearbox and a Quaife helical limited-slip differential (although the last item listed there is optional). And so, while it’s technically a crossover hatchback by segment, mechanically it’s unlike even what you might consider its closest usually all-wheel driven, auto-box-equipped, ‘performance crossover’ rivals.
The car is, for outright size and weight, actually within a whisker of a matching the one with which Team RS (as Ford’s in-house performance tuning arm was formerly known) made its modern reputation: the feted Focus RS of 2001. It’s slightly larger than the old-timer if only by a couple of inches here and there, as well as 50kg or so heavier and slightly less powerful; but it’s also torquier, and so it needs precisely as long as the hot Focus did to hit 62mph from rest almost twenty years ago: 6.7sec.
Ford’s sell for the car is that it’s intended more for Fiesta ST owners whose families have grown out of their cars than Focus ST clientele who fancy something more high-rise and urban-flavoured (why would they?). Delete the ‘ST’ suffixes, though, and that statement could very accurately be applied to the Puma in a wider sense.