ST = Ford Performance = fun, fun, fun? …Almost!
Ford’s first compact SUV with the added ST treatment, the Puma ST, delivers plenty in the performance department. But let’s start at the bottom: the Megabox.
No, not some sort of exhaust-enhancer, but a deep extra load space in the boot that even has a drain hole for all the muddy wetness that you’ve washed off your hiking boots. Now THAT’s useful and cool!
Now back to the real fun bit.
The compact 3-cylinder 1.5-litre engine delivers no less than 197bhp. I have to remember that precisely double that engine displacement and cylinders in my old 1982 Porsche 911 SC produced pretty much the same horses…charging in 7.2 seconds to 60 mph, whereas the Puma ST would now whizz past in a mere 6.8 seconds. A great noise too, as the revs had up to 6000rpm and beyond.
That said, the Ford Puma ST, 3-pot motor had terrific torque; 320Nm allows a super surge of overtaking power even in fifth or sixth gear. At this, the engine thumps along beautifully and smooths out in the higher rev-range. The brakes were of course, appropriately powerful, although I would personally have preferred that power to be more gently progressive at low speeds.
The steering characteristics are a touch of heaviness at low speed, then nicely-weighted and very precise when pushing on.
The six-speed manual gearbox provides delightfully-quick changes, particularly fifth to sixth, so that the all-important sporty feel is never lost.
And, on the same note, the Puma ST can be cornered fast with almost absolutely no lean — oh, for my own race-track to test its limits…and try out the Launch Control.
But there’s always a cost to all this genuine sportiness. Where is the compromise? Well, when it comes to the ride, OK out on dual carriageways and motorways, but, if you really want to know just how bad are most of our suburban roads and city streets, the Puma ST will transmit a graphic illustration up through your backside.
That said, the driving seat is superbly fitting, very firm, yet cosseting and protective.
As an SUV, the S for sports is totally fulfilled. The UV for utility vehicle is good, in that the space for a family of four is there, with easy access and egress at the rear through the wide-opening rear doors.
The rear tailgate is easy to operate with one hand, thanks to the switch there (but what’s wrong with my footwork? I can never seem to operate tailgates by swinging my foot about underneath!).
How many of us seem to have issues with infotainment systems? Satellite Navigation being the one that is used as much as any, including music, Apple, Bluetooth and so on, should perhaps be as simple and sorted as any. At last! Thank you, Ford, for your Sync 3 system that gives us (amongst other things, the latest array of info technologies) a simple touchscreen both to cancel route guidance and to stop/re-start voice commands with just one touch and not a series of selections.
Over many years, and although without having driven every single model, I’ve found Fords to be generally straightforward and without gimmicks. This Puma is another and all credit it to it.
That’s not to say that it’s without its occasional unnecessary touches…but let’s forgive the ST image that shines onto the pavement when you open the door in darkness and suggest that that’s simply a friendly little owner’s reminder of, well, a good choice you’ve made.
Something else an owner will appreciate is the fuel consumption, if, as recorded by our test car, 43.0 mpg is acceptable over 560 miles of varying routes and traffic conditions; this gives a range of around 410 miles.
Cost? £29,710 plus £1475 options, including the Mean Green paint on the test car, a colour that got ‘Marmite’ reactions over our seven days in the Puma ST.
Tom Scanlan has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, particularly the Reading Evening Post for ten years, having got into motoring journalism in 1973 via the somewhat unlikely back door of the British Forces Broadcasting Service. BFBS produced a weekly radio motoring show for the services overseas and Tom produced it, as well as interviewing experts and eventually reporting on cars.
He is into classic cars and has owned Porsche, Ferrari, pre-war Alvis and Rileys and currently owns his fifth old Alfa Romeo, a 1984 GTV 2.0.
In his spare time, Tom is a professional cricket coach.
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