Ford Puma ST review

  • Amazing to drive
  • As practical as a regular Puma
  • Good value

 CONS

  • Harsh, unforgiving suspension
  • Not as fast as a Hyundai Kona N
  • Frog-like looks aren't for everyone

Is the Ford Puma ST any good?

The Puma is a revered and award-winning SUV. The Ford Puma ST turns things up to 11 thanks to a 200hp 1.5-litre engine borrowed from the Fiesta ST.

Its closest rival in terms of hot-SUVs is the Hyundai Kona N. But bigger and more expensive cars such as the Cupra Formentor and Volkswagen T-Roc R will also be on similar shopping lists.

And yes, the Puma ST is very good. It’s a tiny tearaway designed to offer the driving thrills of a Fiesta ST in a slightly more practical package.

It excels at both of those points. On the road it’s feisty and great fun. The steering is sharp, the engine is boosty and the ride, well, is somewhat compromised by its firm suspension and large wheels.

It’s just as practical as a regular Puma though, and retains Ford’s 80-litre waterproof storage box in the boot.

What’s it like inside?

It’s largely the same as the Puma in here. Improvements include Recaro sports seats and extra dollops of gloss black paint. 

The seats have six-way adjustment and provide a good choice of seating position. You sit higher than in a supermini, but still lower than you would in a small SUV.

Up front storage is merely okay. The glovebox is big but the door bins aren’t, plus the cupholders are right next to the handbrake.

The infotainment is the same as the regular Puma. So it gets an 8.0-inch display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

In the rear there’s enough room for a couple of kids, but the Puma ST remains a pretty narrow car. So three adults in the back is a no no for long journeys.

Boot space remains the same as a regular Puma, which is a good thing. It’s bigger than the one found in the Kona N, plus it has Ford’s Megabox system, essentially a 80-litre mini boot under the boot floor with a plug hole in the bottom.

What’s it like to drive?

Get the Puma ST on twisty roads and it’s just as much fun as a Fiesta. The steering is more responsive than the standard Puma’s and it makes the ST far easier to play with.

It’s about 100kg heavier than a Fiesta ST. To counter this, the rear suspension is 50% stiffer, and it makes Puma surprisingly resistant to bodyroll in corners. 

The good news is that the response is natural feeling. A mechanical limited-slip differential and torque-vectoring do their best to maximise traction under hard acceleration.

The bad news is that it does make the car firm. This is most notable at town speeds. At 20-30 mph it drops hard into potholes and bangs over speed bumps. This is irritating and should be taken into consideration if you regularly do short trips. Things do improve at motorway speeds and it’s not as uncomfortable or as jolting as the Hyundai Kona N. 

The 1.5-litre turbo from the Fiesta ST is largely unchanged. It has 200hp, which is 47hp more than the next most powerful Puma, and continues to drive the front wheels. 

Ford has squeezed more torque from the three-cylinder engine, so in theory, it should be easier to drive with more pulling power at lower revs. This should also explain why the Puma ST matches the lighter Fiesta’s 0-62mph time of 6.7 seconds.

What models and trims are available?

There’s only one new Puma ST to pick. Simply called the ST, it’s a standalone model. Bespoke features include 19-inch ST alloys, a body kit, red brake calipers, a rear spoiler and a front splitter with Ford Performance embossed on it.

There was also a Ford Puma ST Gold Edition on sale. It was designed in part by Ford’s social media followers via a set of polls. It was limited to 999 cars and included satin gold wheels, gold racing stripes, black paint, gold striped seats and a few bits of carbonfibre inside.

What else should I know?

The Puma ST is easy enough to understand. Mechanically it’s nearly identical to the Ford Fiesta ST, but it adds a bit more practicality to the mix.

We covered more than 500 miles in an ST and averaged close to 44mpg. This is really quite something considering the official WLTP figure is 42.8mpg. Admittedly quite a few of our miles were motorway ones, but nevertheless, in day-to-day driving you should easily see 40mpg.

https://www.parkers.co.uk/ford/puma/st-2020/used-review/