For auto enthusiasts, Ford Puma is synonymous with a fun, fuel-efficient little coupe from the late ’90s. Fashions and practices have since changed, and the SUV trend has taken over the market. So Ford has taken the name Puma to attach it to a city SUV with a micro-hybrid engine (MHEV) by offering two versions in its range, in 125 or 155 hp.
We had the opportunity to take charge of the Puma mild-hybrid version ST-Line X of 155 hp and the results were generally positive, with in particular a pleasant silhouette, good finishes, a modern interior accompanied by an OS house SYNC 3 passed (in version 3.4 at the time of our test). The surprise of the test mainly concerned the various driving aids, in particular the useful Local Hazard Information, which allows the driver to be informed in real time of a danger located on his road.
Genes from Fiesta ST
However, considering the intrinsic qualities of the chassis, we felt that there was definitely a little extra soul missing to make the Ford Puma fun to drive. It was without counting on the large gaps of which Ford is capable. The giant of the automotive industry is indeed also able to speak to sports enthusiasts, thanks in particular to the Focus RS and ST, Fiesta ST, Mustang and the unmistakable (and unaffordable) Ford GT (which we also had the chance to try ).
To this already happy list is therefore added the Puma ST, Ford of Europe’s first sports SUV. Based on a Ford Fiesta platform, the Puma incorporates many elements including the engine, damping, braking as well as a stiffer rear torsion axle and larger anti-roll bars to compensate for a higher center of gravity.
On the outside, we find the various elements of the ST Line finishes such as the 19-inch rims, the red brake calipers to which are added mirror shells and a shiny black roof, a specific grille, a double exhaust outlet. and a rear spoiler. As if that weren’t enough, a specific shade of Green Mean appears. But it is possible to stay more sober by choosing from seven other shades.
A wealth of equipment
Inside, the cabin looks like other Puma’s, with cheap plastics, but the vibe is decidedly sportier. There is the fully digital instrument cluster with a 12.3-inch screen and the 8-inch touchscreen on the dashboard. The driver and passengers benefit from enveloping Recaro bucket seats, a flattened steering wheel signed ST, an aluminum pedal and knob. The endowment of driving aids remains rich with an intelligent cruise control, the recognition of traffic signs, or the collision prevention system mentioned above. By choosing the Integral Safety Pack for an additional € 1,000, the Puma ST is equipped with a semi-autonomous parking system with front and side radar, reversing camera and blind spot monitoring. However, the aficionados will probably opt for the Performance pack at € 1,100 which provides for a limited slip differential and Launch Control.
You will understand, by taking the acronym ST of the Fiesta, the Puma also adopts its three-cylinder engine of 1500 cm3, which displays a power of 200 hp at 6000 rpm and a maximum torque of 320 Nm between 2500 and 3500 rpm. The manufacturer recalls that the three-cylinder engine of the Puma ST can deactivate or reactivate a cylinder in 14 milliseconds, which allows it to display an average of 6.0 l / 100 km in WLTP combined consumption. We specify here that this test was carried out only on the circuit and that we will have to take control of the vehicle in more conventional conditions to carry out measurements.
Track mode on the Ferté Gaucher circuit
To find out if this transplant takes place, an appointment is given by Ford on the La Ferté Gaucher circuit (Seine-et-Marne), where we switch directly to the Track driving mode via the wheel on the steering wheel. Might as well write it right away, if the Puma ST is not as crazy as the city car Yaris GR, its behavior has still largely impressed us. From the first lap of the circuit, he shatters any prejudice we may have on his paradoxical positioning. First engaged (only a 6-speed manual gearbox is available), we crush the right pedal to leave with a brutal and surprising growl. The sound of the exhaust has been slightly reworked and we are happy to finally be so firmly held in the buckets.
When passing second and third gears, the thrust sticks us vigorously to the seat and it is recommended to keep your hands on the steering wheel so as not to be surprised by the reactions of the locking mechanism. The front axle is particularly incisive and precise. The Puma throws itself with glee from one turn to the next, easily searches for the chord point to lift the inside rear wheel and quickly pass through the series of turns. Over the course of the circuit, he lets himself be tamed and allows his pilot to work on his trajectories. The vehicle easily forgives mistakes with a telephoned glide from the rear, then energetically restarts until the next turn. What a sparkling little feline that Ford offers here! More than the raw power, it is agility that takes precedence, with the addition of braking that did not show any sign of heating up during our session.
This last finished, we leave the Puma ST a little surprised to have taken so much pleasure at the wheel of an SUV. For the manufacturer, it is indeed a question of offering a city SUV, practical (the trunk offers a total volume of 456 to 1611 liters including the megabox hidden in the false floor), relatively economical on a daily basis while being able to offer cheeky driving pleasure when the right foot itches. A daring posture that would almost make you regret its singularity. Indeed, displayed at the price of 33,650 € (excluding options and excluding malus of 983 €), the Puma ST is without competition. And that may be a shame.