There's no reason why it can't.
Last week, Ford revealed its overseas-only Puma small crossover and immediately we were smitten. Based on the same platform as the also now overseas-only Fiesta, the Puma not only revives a respected nameplate but also represents a solid leap forward for Ford small crossover design. It's real shame there are no immediate plans to bring it to North America, as far as we know. And this makes things all the more painful knowing Ford could very well decide to give the new Puma the ST treatment.
The Puma ST, beautifully rendered here from X-Tomi Design, features all of the typical Ford Performance design bits such as added aero, wider tires, and a lowered profile. The end result sure looks like it could be a serious Mini Countryman JCW rival and all it'd need is the right engine.
Fortunately, Ford has plenty of those on hand, but which one best suits a Puma ST? The most obvious choice would be the new Fiesta ST's 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder EcoBoost with 200 hp and 214 lb-ft of torque. Only a six-speed manual gearbox is offered. With that powerplant, the Fiesta ST can go from 0-62 mph in 6.5 seconds. Technically speaking, there's no reason why Ford can't make this happen. Everything is there and ready to go. What still may need to be determined is market demand.
The Countryman happens to be Mini's hottest seller these days because, duh, it's a crossover. The Countryman JCW is a brilliant hot crossover thanks to its BMW-sourced 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo generating 301 hp and 331 lb-ft.
That extra 100 horsepower, as much fun as it is, comes at a significant price. The Countryman JCW starts at nearly $40,000. Its all-wheel drive system is another added bonus. But $40k for that? It's a bit pricey for many and now Ford has a real opportunity to offer a less powerful and less expensive alternative that could attract young buyers. Here's hoping Ford is listening.