Think of it as an apology for Fiesta ST owners.
After watching Europe enjoy Ford's fabulous ST-branded models for decades, the Blue Oval finally gave American enthusiasts access to the Fiesta ST and Focus ST. These two hot hatchbacks offered everything we look for in an affordable performance vehicle - unique styling, turbocharged engines, enhanced performance, and a manual transmission. Having both the Fiesta and Focus ST in the US was fabulous but then after a single generation, Ford decided to pull the plug and no longer offer them stateside.
Current ST owners are now left as orphans because the smallest and least expensive replacement still offered in the US is the Edge ST. After driving the Edge, we don't think it feels like a proper ST vehicle because it offers none of the same enjoyment or feedback found in the Fiesta or Focus. The Fiesta and Focus may be gone and they aren't coming back but we think we've come up with a method for Ford to retain its ST customers - bring over the Puma ST.
For those who don't know, the Puma is a recently-revealed crossover that Ford seemingly has no plans to offer in the US. This is a shame because we think the Puma looks much better than the sub-compact crossover that is currently offered in the US, the Ford EcoSport. Unlike the EcoSport, which has been on sale in other markets since 2012, the Puma is all-new and offers the same drivetrains found in the Europe-only Fiesta. It's even got a manual transmission option.
Our spy photographer recently spotted Ford testing a Puma ST, which will use the same 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine found in the Europe-only Fiesta ST mated to a six-speed manual. The Puma ST has been spotted testing before but this one looks far more production-ready. We can clearly see the deeper front spoiler, roof spoiler, larger brakes, twin exhaust pipes, and large intercooler specific to the ST model.
Our photographers even got a good look at the interior, where drivers will be hugged by Recaro seats while they row through the gears on a six-speed manual transmission. Since the Puma ST will use the same engine found in the new Fiesta ST, it should produce 200 horsepower going out to the front wheels. Expect a 0-60 mph time in around seven seconds.
If Ford isn't going to offer the new Fiesta ST in the US because it doesn't want to sell sedans and hatchback anymore, we pray the company will at least offer the Puma ST. Unlike the Edge ST and Explorer ST, the Puma ST offers much of the same driving experience Fiesta and Focus ST owners have come to love. And unlike the ST models currently sold in the US, the Puma will be small, agile, affordable, and will offer a manual. We understand that offering a new nameplate can be tricky, so even if Ford decides to badge the Puma as a replacement for the EcoSport, we'd be alright with that decision.
We believe the Puma ST will be everything that the EcoSport isn't - fast, actually sporty, and a reasonable option for enthusiasts. It makes perfect sense to replace the aging EcoSport with the Puma ST. Ford, make it so.