Ford Puma ST joins Ford Peformance ranks as a 197bhp hot crossover

Ford has confirmed that it will launch a performance version of its Puma compact SUV, offering Fiesta ST levels of performance from the small crossover.

The Ford Puma ST is the first SUV produced for Europe by the Ford Performance team, and uses the same 197bhp 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine as the Fiesta hot hatch.

Tweaked with a unique air intake and free-flowing exhaust, the turbocharged three-cylinder petrol will shift the larger Puma to 62mph in 6.7 second - just 0.2 seconds slower than the Fiesta. Torque for the Puma ST has been boosted to 236lb ft (up from 214lb ft) to improve responsiveness.

To make sure the Puma ST handles like an ST car should, it has undergone some serious toughening up beneath the surface. The rear twist beam is 40 per cent stiffer than the Fiesta ST’s and 50 per cent stiffer than the standard Puma’s in order to compensate for its higher centre of gravity. The force vectoring springs and anti-roll bars have also been specially tuned to maximise the Puma’s handling abilities and the steering response is 25 per cent faster than the standard car.

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Bigger brakes and a tuned brake booster aid stopping power and, like the Fiesta ST, a £950 Performance Pack adds a mechanical limited-slip differential - a segment first.

“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 for 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.”

From the outside, the Puma ST stands out from regular Pumas thanks to unique grilles designed to aid cooling, a Ford Performance-embossed front splitter, large roof spoiler, diffuser and 19-inch alloys. All Puma STs also come with gloss black roof, grille surrounds, side spears, door mirror caps and rear roof spoiler while an ST-exclusive Mean Green paint finish will make it stand out on the school run.

Inside, heated, Recaro sports seats, Ford Performance skid plates, a flat-bottomed leather steering wheel and ST gear knob add sporty embellishments to the Puma’s practical cabin.

Standard features for all Puma STs include a wireless charging pad, Quickclear heated windscreen, front and rear parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers and Ford’s SYNC 3 media/navigation system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The new Puma ST starts at £28,495 and is available to order now.