Sadly, Ford's new high-performance crossover will be forbidden fruit in America.
There was a time when Ford offered high-performance ST versions of the Focus and Fiesta hatchbacks in the US. But the only ST model Ford sells in its US lineup today is the Edge ST crossover, which doesn't exactly provide the same driving thrills as the discontinued Focus ST and Fiesta ST. In Europe, the Ford Puma was recently reborn as a compact crossover, and now the long-rumored Ford Puma ST performance crossover has debuted for the European market. Think of it as the more practical crossover counterpart to the Fiesta ST.
Powering the Puma ST is the same 1.5-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder engine found under the hood of the Fiesta ST producing 197 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque, paired with a smooth-shifting six-speed manual transmission. For comparison, the regular Puma's 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder unit generates up to 153 hp and 119 lb-ft of torque. This setup enables the sporty crossover to accelerate from 0-62 mph in 6.7 seconds, which is only marginally slower than the lighter Fiesta ST's 6.5-second sprint time.
As for the top speed, the Puma ST will top out at 137 mph, while the Fiesta ST will reach 144 mph. Like the Fiesta ST, the 1.5-liter engine features cylinder deactivation technology that enables the crossover to run on two cylinders to save fuel. Ford Performance has also tuned the exhaust note to "better suit the Puma ST's more refined SUV character" by making it one decibel quieter than the Fiesta ST.
Styling-wise, the sportier exterior is fitted with a Ford Performance-embossed splitter integrated into the front bumper that increases front end downforce by almost 80 percent. Also improving the SUV's aerodynamics is a large roof spoiler and a new diffuser incorporated into the rear bumper. ST upper and lower grilles also improve engine cooling. Six exterior colors will be available: Agate Black, Desert Island Blue, Fantastic Red, Frozen White, Magnetic and an ST-exclusive Mean Green. The roof, grille surrounds, side spears, door mirror caps, and rear roof spoiler can also be finished in gloss black. Standard 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires round off the exterior upgrades.
To counterbalance the SUV's higher center of gravity, the rear suspension is 40 percent stiffer than Fiesta ST's setup and 50 percent stiffer than the standard Puma's. Front and rear anti-roll bars also improve cornering stability.
To make the handling more responsive, the steering system is nearly 25 percent quicker than the standard Puma and the front brake discs have a 17-percent larger diameter for increased stopping power.
Inside, the cabin features heated Recaro sports seats embossed with the ST logo and finished in a grippy Miko Dinamica material, Ford Performance skid plates, a flat-bottomed leather steering wheel, and an ST gear knob. Metal Grey stitching is applied to the seats, gear lever gaiter, and ST-branded floor mat.
Standard comfort and convenience features include a wireless charging pad, heated windshield, front and rear parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers, and an eight-inch infotainment system.
In the UK, pricing for the Puma ST starts at £28,495 ($36,300). A Performance Pack with limited-slip differential is also available for £950 ($1,210).