The regular Ford Puma goes on-sale here next week but this is the one we want Down Under, the new Ford Puma ST.

SUVs are smoking hot right now as far as sales are concerned but this Ford Puma ST ratchets up a notch and throws itself into a segment that doesn’t exist. Yep, there are no other warmed up compact SUVs.

The Puma ST borrows the 1.5-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost engine from the Fiesta ST which makes 147kW and 320Nm of torque (from 0-100km/h in 6.7 seconds) and can shut down a cylinder when coasting. But who cares about that…that power and torque increase would totally transform the Puma. And active exhaust tech allows you to release the full off-beat three-cylinder growl. Manual only too.

2021 Ford Puma ST

And don’t worry. Ford hasn’t just stuffed in a bigger engine. It had its engineers fiddle with the chassis and suspension, fitting a bespoke twist-beam uprated to 2000Nm/deg torsional stiffness, an increase of more than 40% compared with Fiesta ST and 50% compared to the standard Puma, 28mm rear anti-roll bar, 24mm front anti-roll bar, and tweaked damper settings. Steering response time is 25% quicker and the brakes are 17% bigger. It gets the same Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres as the Fiesta ST. Bespoke bump stops have been specified to maintain control under high suspension loads. And the cost-optional Performance Pack adds an LSD.

2021 Ford Puma ST

“Real driving enthusiasts aren’t going to settle for less excitement just because life demands a more ‘sensible’ car, so our number one priority was that the Puma ST had to be as exhilarating and capable as every ST model, without sacrificing any of Puma’s practicality,” said Stefan Muenzinger, Ford Performance manager, Europe. “We believe that we have the best-handling small SUV in its segment. It really does feel connected and has the true ST feel. It is a joy to drive.” 

2021 Ford Puma ST

Braking performance is also optimised. Front discs are increased by 17% in diameter compared with the standard Puma specification to 325mm, and 271mm discs feature at the rear. Like the Fiesta ST, the Puma ST offers Launch Control which Ford says is only for the race track and not the traffic lights.

The looks you can judge for yourself but we reckon it looks pretty good and could be a hint of the future of hot hatches… the interior is the same practical one you get in the regular Puma but with some nicer materials and Recaro front seats. There’s an 8.0-inch infotainment screen with SYNC3 and Apple and Android connectivity and the 10.25-inch digital instrument display.

“Our new Puma ST is practical and refined with head-turning SUV proportions, but able to deliver hot-hatchback thrills,” Muenzinger said.

And that says it all. Not sure about you, but we now want a hot crossover. Unfortunately, the Puma ST won’t be coming to Australia…Ford Australia has told MotoFomo we shouldn’t hold our breath.

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