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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Green with envy? Ford Puma ST pounces on Europe

Packing a torquier version of the Fiesta ST's three-cylinder engine, the Puma ST will sadly remain forbidden fruit for South Africans.

Having copped extensive flack for reviving the Puma last year after a 17 year hiatus as an SUV, Ford has now given its EcoSport successor more bite in the form of the ST.

Marking use of the fabled ST badge for the first time on a European developed SUV, the Puma ST is powered by the same three-cylinder 1.5 EcoBoost engine as the Fiesta ST, but while power remains unchanged at 147 kW, the Blue Oval has increased the torque by 30 Nm for the same 320 Nm Fiesta drivers would only experience on overboost.

Mated to the same six-speed manual gearbox and further equipped with four driving modes; Eco, Normal, Sport and Track, an optional Quaife mechanical limited-slip differential and launch control as part of the optional Performance Pack, the Puma ST will accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 6.7 seconds and reach a top speed of 220 km/h.

Finished in a bespoke colour called Mean Green as part of a six colour palette, the others being Magnetic, Frozen White, Agate Black, Fantastic Red and Desert Island Blue, the ST rides on 19-inch machined alloy wheels wrapped in specifically developed Michelin Pilot Sport 4S, and differentiates itself further from the conventional Puma by featuring wider door sills, a gloss black roof, new front bumper, gloss black ST grille, a diffuser integrated into the rear bumper, a gloss spoiler integrated into the bootlid, gloss black mirror caps and an ST projected onto the ground with the mirrors folded.

Unique fittings inside include heated ST branded Recaro sport seats finished in Miko suede, the Ford Performance logo on the eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Ford Performance skidplates, the otherwise optional B&O sound system, a flat-bottom ST sport steering wheel, ST gearknob and Metal Grey stitching on the gear boot, seats and the ST floor mats.

While standard specification and safety remains unchanged from the top-spec ST Line, Ford has reworked the Puma’s dynamics by sharpening the steering by a claimed 25%, increasing the brake discs by 17% with the fronts now measuring 325 mm and the rears 271 mm, while at the same time retuning the brake booster and fitting new twin-tube dampers from Hitachi in order to reduce body roll and improve the ride.

Also added is a new free-flow exhaust system with active valve technology, Torque Vectoring that works in combination with the mentioned differential, rear springs stiffened by 40% over the Fiesta ST and by 50% over the standard Puma, revised front and rear anti-roll bars plus so-called force vectoring springs designed to aid the Hitachi dampers.

In the United Kingdom, pricing for the Puma ST starts at £28 495 (R618 513) but like the regular model, sales won’t be happening in South Africa due to EcoSport occupying the position of the Blue Oval’s smallest SUV.

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