Ford Puma ST
The many ways our crossover wears its sportiness on its sleeve
OUR PUMA HAS NOW WHIZZED PAST the 5000-mile mark, so it’s probably time I gave Sam Jenkins his car back… However, after all the big estates and hatchbacks and SUVS that have come my way – which admittedly make sense when you spend most of your time lugging around more photography kit than your local Jessops has in stock – it’s been nice to be in something small-ish, front-wheel drive (rather than four) and with a manual gearbox. But that doesn’t mean I have fallen in love with the Puma.
Its 197bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine is my favourite part of the car. It sounded pretty good when I first got behind its wheel, but I’d swear it’s got even better on this front now it’s fully loosened up, with extra pops and bangs punctuating your progress. With peak power residing at 6000rpm it encourages you to keep your foot in to enjoy its performance too.
It also facilitates some impressive straightline performance, the claimed 6.7sec 0-62mph time feeling entirely believable and putting the Puma only 0.2sec behind its Fiesta ST cousin, despite a near 100kg disadvantage. A launch control function helps ensure that time is easily achievable too. Well, as long as you don’t fluff your manual upshifts, as the gearshift is perhaps not the best. But at least it is a manual and not another dull DCT or auto. I mentioned last month that the Puma can feel a bit busy along a B-road. Well, I’ve been reminded since that not only is the ST’S steering ratio almost 25 per cent quicker than the standard Puma’s but it’s also a fraction quicker than the Fiesta ST’S. A statement of intent if ever there was one, but it also explains why the Puma can sometimes feel quite lively.
And speaking of lively, make sure your passenger isn’t holding a mug of hot coffee when you brush the brake pedal. The large, 325mm front discs are extremely grabby and surprisingly tricky to modulate. It almost feels like you have two options: on or off. This may be ideal for trackdays, but realistically few Pumas are going to be seen lapping Bedford Autodrome, and when pottering around town or in car parks it’s just annoying.
Yet while it isn’t perfect, overall I’ve had fun driving our Puma ST. But now it really is time I relinquished the key and jumped back into my actual long-termer, the Skoda Kodiaq VRS.
Date acquired April 2022 Total mileage 5290 Mileage this month 909 Costs this month £0 mpg this month 33.1