As long as there is demand, automakers will continue launching new crossovers. One of them is Ford, which is now present in the sporty subcompact SUV segment with the Puma ST, a performance-oriented version of the regular model.
Tweaked by the Ford Performance Division, it has visual upgrades inside and out, glossy black accents, new wheels and a re-tuned chassis with stiffer suspension. Also, the brakes are bigger, there’s an optional limited-slip differential available to help it cope with the extra power and the steering is very responsive.
Packing the same engine as its platform sharing sibling, the Fiesta ST, the Puma ST does the nought to 62 mph (0-100 km/h) sprint in a very decent 6.7 seconds, or two tenths of a second slower than the Fiesta ST, and maxes out at 137 mph (220 km/h). Its turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder delivers 197 HP (200 PS / 147 kW) at 6,000 rpm and 236 lb-ft (320 Nm) of torque, or 22 lb-ft (30 Nm) more than the hatchback, which are directed to the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission.
According to Rory Reid, who had the chance to sample one, driving the Puma ST on B roads and around town is less satisfying than expected of a small SUV. The ex-Top Gear co-presenter did, however, admit that the regular Puma is his favorite small crossover, so does the ST have what it takes to win him over?