A hatchback used to be the obvious choice for the majority of people, but for a while now the trend has been moving towards the compact SUV.
SUVs offer the same levels of affordable practicality with a few added benefits so why wouldn’t you? This is where Ford has spotted a little gap in the market. With the gradual decline of the hatchback there are fewer options for the uproarious “hot” variants, so Ford has decided to give us a new hot compact SUV instead: The Ford Puma ST Powershift.
If you think about it this makes perfect sense.
Range-topping hot hatches like Ford’s Focus RS have been getting increasingly powerful for a number of years to the extent they have effectively created a new category of hyper hatchback. The ST range has traditionally sat somewhere in the middle of the regular cars and the fire breathing monsters. More than enough performance to make them brilliantly rewarding to drive, but with smaller fuel bills and less complicated servicing than an RS.
That means many generations of both the Fiesta and Focus have been given the ST treatment, and they’ve all been utterly brilliant for it. Affordable, reliable, and practical cars that also allowed you to really let your hair down from time to time. Now it’s the turn of the compact SUV to get an ST makeover.
And like previous ST models, most of the detail is under the skin, which in this case is essentially the same as the regular Ford Puma.
Same good bits of standard Puma, but upgraded for sports performance
Alright, there are a few obvious differences – you get a nice chunky body kit with a front splitter, larger grille, and a rear spoiler and diffuser combination, as well as 19-inch alloys and an ST-exclusive Azure Blue paint option– but ultimately you get the same practical and well-equipped car as a regular Puma.
Underneath is a different story though. The Puma ST boasts a stiffer chassis, uprated suspension, bigger brakes, and faster steering than the standard car. That all means a more responsive feel, more grip, and a more exhilarating driving experience.
The ST shares the same 1.0-litre EcoBoost 48-volt mild hybrid engine as the rest of the Puma range, but a little bit of tuning has added almost 10% more power. Delivering up to 170bhp, the Puma ST Powershift now produces exactly the same power as the original 2002 Focus ST170 and from an engine that’s half the size. You’re essentially getting the same level of power and performance but with the emissions and fuel consumption the engineers could only have dreamed about 20 years ago: 7.4sec to 60mph, 44.8 mpg, and 144 g/km CO2.
This new version of the Puma ST also introduces Ford’s new automatic seven-speed Powershift transmission to the mix. Specifically designed to work with the EcoBoost hybrid engine, in fully automatic mode the dual-clutch gearbox effortlessly keeps the mild hybrid powertrain at the optimum rpm for efficiency around town. In sport mode it becomes a different beast. The Powershift transmission holds lower gears longer for a sportier response, and for truly exploiting the engine’s performance, it engages triple downshifts for faster overtaking when you plant your right foot into the carpet. In addition, steering wheel paddle shifters allow manual control of shift points for full driver engagement.
Along with the compact SUV’s comfort, uncompromised interior space and innovative practical solutions, the new Ford Puma ST Powershift adds increased performance to the recipe. If a hot hatch was a brilliant balance of performance and practicality, a hot compact SUV should be even better.
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