The Ford Puma is probably our favorite small European hatchback right now, especially when fitted with the ST-Line package. This actually does improve the handling to a surprising level for a car of this type. However, the ST-Line lacks punch, which will be added when the Puma ST arrives later this year.
We're maybe half a year away from the official market launch of the Puma ST, which is something Ford hasn't tried making before. In fact, even though crossovers are pretty popular, most automakers have shied away from taking them seriously. There was the Nissan Juke Nismo, which won't be coming back, and... that's about it.
Renault and SEAT both thought about doing 200+ horsepower versions of their little crossovers, the Captur and Arona, but decided against it. Just from that, you can tell that Ford wants to be the brand Europeans associate with fun, affordable cars.
The Puma itself is based on the Fiesta, so we expect the two ST models to be largely the same. That means a 1.5-liter turbo engine resides under the hood. Normally, this makes 200 hp, but we might get a slightly higher number if the 3-cylinder gets updated to mild-hybrid technology.
The Puma ST should be able to get from 0 to 100 kph (62 mph) in about 7 seconds. That's obviously not sports car-fast, but the product is designed to be affordable and enjoyable in everyday situations; no AWD system or expensive twin-clutch gearbox.
Cosmetic changes will be minimal at best, with basically the same body kit as the ST-Line being updated a bit and matched to 18-inch wheels, even lower suspension and big brakes. We believe this pint-sized crossover will also have the banana springs from the Fiesta ST, changing the handling as the vehicle leans into corners.
Sadly, Ford of America isn't interested in selling any version of the Puma. We think it's a shame since it's a far better-looking thing than the EcoSport and might actually do well.