Ford Puma ST 1.0

EcoBoost

Ford Puma ST, 2024, front, action
Ford Puma ST, 2024, front
Ford Puma ST, 2024, side
Ford Puma ST, 2024, rear
Ford Puma ST, 2024, instrument panel
Ford Puma ST, 2024, interior
Ford Puma ST, 2024, front seats
Ford Puma ST, 2024, rear seats
Ford Puma ST, 2024, engine
Ford Puma ST, 2024, boot

YOU could be forgiven for thinking that Ford threw away the rule book when it designed the Puma ST.

Surely they knew that SUVs - small or large - were practical, if rather mundane family transport, therefore somewhat short on the fun factor?

Maybe not, it would seem...because the diminutive 1.0-litre ST packing no less than 168bhp is explosive - an absolute riot of pleasure to drive.

Not only does it accelerate almost indecently quickly but its pin-sharp handling and glue-like road holding brings a new dimension to sensible family travel.

For some, the precision and stiffness of ride - even in ‘comfort' setting - may prove either a tad challenging or rather uncomfortable. But the dynamics are such that keen drivers will lap up the car's communication and responsiveness.

Built on the same platform as the late lamented Fiesta, it possesses a Tardis-like interior with ample room for four adults and a stack of luggage.

Shoulder room is a bit tight but leg and headroom is generous enough and the regularly shaped hatchback boot can soak up 456 litres of luggage with a hidden space beneath the floor. Fold down the rear seats and this expands to 1,216 litres.

Very little marks out the rapid ST over its lesser brethren - just a rear wing and diffuser and a differently styled grille. Inside red ST badges and big wrap-around sports seats send the message that this is something special.

While the front seats, themselves, are supportive and very comfortable, the knob that adjusts the driver's backrest is almost impossible to access while you're seated.

An eight inch infotainment screen complete with sat nav protrudes from the centre of the fascia. Ford has chosen not to have separate shortcut buttons, instead these appear onscreen which are inevitably less user-friendly.

The 10-speaker B&O system is seriously impressive, and is sure to satisfy even the most fussy music buff. If you're not tuned into your fave band, just make the most of the little three-cylinder engine's sporty snarl - it's quite addictive.

Despite its small dimensions, the mild hybrid 1.0-litre unit has bags of torque and the seven-speed automatic gearbox, complete with steering wheel paddle change, makes the most every horsepower.

The Puma is most at home being punted enthusiastically along twisty country roads where its handling finesse is readily exhibited. Despite the generous amount of power being fed through the front wheels, there's little sign of steering-tug even under full acceleration.

Curves are taken almost flat with negligible body roll when in ‘sport' mode and hardly any more in ‘comfort' setting. In fact most of the time we preferred ‘comfort' because it transfers fewer ruts and bumps from the road surface into the cabin.

For such a spirited performer which encourages positive driving, the fuel consumption is surprisingly good. Over average was 41mpg which is just a little behind the official combined figure.

Guaranteed to give a keen driver an ear-to-ear smile, the Puma ST which sacrifices nothing in terms of practicality, succeeds in standing out from the SUV crowd.

£31,760

1.0-litre, 3 cyl, 168bhp petrol hybrid engine driving two via automatic gearbox

130mph

7.4sec

44.8

21

144g/km

33%

3yrs/60,000 miles

: 4.5

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