Ford gives high performance ST treatment to Puma
THE inevitable hot version of Ford's baby SUV, the Puma, has arrived, complete with lurid 'mean green' paintwork.
You can have your Puma ST painted in other colours, of course, but whatever shade you go for the only engine option is the same perky 197bhp, 236lb ft 1.5-litre three-cylinder unit found in the Fiesta ST.
In the larger, heavier Puma it is sufficient to push the ST from rest to 62mph in 6.7 seconds.
Ford are established masters at transforming humble machinery into something more sporty, so the Puma ST gets 19-inch alloy wheels, Recaro seats and a set of spoilers and skirts. It certainly looks the part.
As well as the beefy engine, other mechanical upgrades include a bespoke chassis set-up which, Ford says, counters the Puma's higher centre of gravity compared to the low-slung Fiesta ST, and bigger brakes.
Specially-developed Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres are fitted, and the steering is around 25 per cent faster than the standard Puma.
There's a £950 'performance pack' which adds a Quaife mechanical limited-slip differential, underlining the seriousness of the ST's intentions.
"Real driving enthusiasts aren't going to settle for less excitement just because life demands a more 'sensible' car, so our number one priority was that the Puma ST had to be as exhilarating and capable as every ST model, without sacrificing any of Puma's practicality," said Stefan Muenzinger, Ford Performance manager, Europe.
"We believe that we have the best-handling small SUV in its segment. It really does feel connected and has the true ST feel. It is a joy to drive."
The Puma ST is priced from £28,495, a sizeable leap from the £22,275 Ford asks for the cheapest Fiesta ST.
A Focus ST, meanwhile, costs from £30,575 for a diesel version and from £33,260 for the harder-hitting 276bhp petrol model.