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The all-new Ford Puma is set for the fast lane with the introduction of the ST, which introduces Ford Performance driving dynamics to the compact SUV segment for the very first time in Europe.

Powered by a 200PS 1.5 litre EcoBoost engine delivering 0-100kph (0 62mph) in 6.7 seconds, the newcomer features an optimised chassis with bespoke twist-beam, anti-roll bar and damper configurations. This engine was first introduced in the Fiesta ST. Steering responses are 25 per cent faster and brakes 17 per cent larger than the standard car and specially-developed Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres also help deliver the most agile Ford SUV driving experience yet. Ford Performance worked alongside Michelin to develop this bespoke tyre with specification to complement the ST’s enhanced chassis, without sacrificing the refined ride quality, one of the most compelling SUV attributes. These tyres can fully exploit the additional traction offered by the optional Quaife mechanical limited-slip differential, delivered as part of the available performance pack. This Ford is the only small performance SUV in Europe to be offered with an LSD, which optimises front-end traction to enhance cornering ability and minimise understeer, in particular on the exit of corners. The purely mechanical system distributes engine torque to the wheel with the most grip, reducing wheel spin and allowing the driver to fully exploit the engine performance. The LSD option works alongside Torque Vectoring Control, which improves road-holding and reduces understeer by applying brake force to the inside front wheel when cornering. The balance between the two features has been fine-tuned by Ford Performance to optimise grip on dry surfaces and smoothness on wet surfaces.

Stopping power is paramount and braking performance is also optimised for a true ST driving experience. Front discs are increased by 17 per cent in diameter compared with the standard Puma specification to 325mm, and 271mm discs feature at the rear. Puma ST’s brake booster is tuned for modulation, feel and feedback that support performance driving. Enhanced with sophisticated Sports Technologies including a unique-in-segment limited-slip differential (LSD) option, part of the Performance Pack, and patented force vectoring springs, Puma ST also features selectable Drive Modes including Sport mode and for the first time on a Ford Performance vehicle Eco mode; providing drivers with options for a wide range of road driving scenarios. Certainly this is one Ford that you can enjoy throughout a variety of driving situations. Combined, these innovations deliver the energised driving experience Ford Performance models are famous for while retaining the comfort and flexibility offered by this new compact SUV.

Performance enhancements and aggressive styling sit side-by side with innovative features including Local Hazard Information connected-car technology and the Ford MegaBox that provides 80 litres of storage beneath the boot floor for everyday practicality. True to its name, sporty styling, including a sloping roofline silhouette and pronounced wheel arches which lends itself to a more extreme ST design, which combines form and function.  A Ford Performance-embossed splitter is integrated into the front bumper to increase front end down force by almost 80 per cent for greater stability and traction. The large rear roof spoiler also supports optimised aerodynamics, with a distinctive diffuser incorporated into the rear bumper while signature ST upper and lower grilles are designed to deliver increased engine cooling capability. The Puma ST offers Magnetite or machined metal finishes for the standard 19-inch alloy wheels, and six available exterior body colours include Agate Black, Desert Island Blue, Fantastic Red, Frozen White, Magnetic and bold, ST-exclusive Mean Green. A gloss black finish for the roof, grille surrounds, side spears, door mirror caps and rear roof spoiler are all standard, making the model even easier to identify.

Moving to the interior, which is equally charismatic; but even before entering, standard power-foldable door mirrors project the ST logo onto the ground when unlocking. Heated, bolstered Recaro sports seats embossed with the ST logo and finished in grippy Miko Dinamica material hold driver and front passenger firmly in place. Ford Performance skid plates, a flat-bottomed leather steering wheel and ST gear knob also feature. The exclusive interior continues to offer best-in-class uncompromised load space of 456 litres, supported by the innovative already noted Ford MegaBox. The adaptable storage solution provides a deep, versatile, 80-litre storage space beneath the boot floor which is capable of comfortably accommodating two golf bags in an upright position. Standard features to maximise comfort and convenience include a wireless charging pad, Quickclear heated windscreen, front and rear parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers. Overall a tasty sporty package from Ford.

Ian Lynas

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