What is it?
The latest addition to the fast Ford model line up, the Ford 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 Ford Fiesta ST owners whose families have grown out of their cars than Ford 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 Ford Puma in a wider sense.