September 29, 2023

Nonetheless, it’s not all as mundane as it could appear. You’ll have by now observed that that is the ST, and subsequently has had a workover from Fords Efficiency division. Even higher, the Pumas underpinnings are lifted straight from the chic Fiesta ST. Nonetheless with me?

From the outset, I’ve to say I don’t perceive the necessity for a “Crossover”. Nonetheless, the Puma is not only one in every of Britain’s best-selling Crossovers, its one in every of Britain’s best-selling vehicles full cease. Subsequently I wouldn’t be doing my journalist due diligence if I didn’t give it an opportunity. However is that this automotive for the common Crossover purchaser, or for the fanatic?

The automotive, as examined, has an RRP of £33,985. What did I say about dangerous first impressions? That’s costly to say the least. The beginning worth for the Puma ST is round £5,000 greater than its Fiesta buddy, however provided that Ford have determined to cull the Fiesta perhaps that’s not the comparability we should always use. Trying on the market, we discover solely two choices within the sub £35,000 guide sizzling hatch arsenal. The Puma, and the Hyundai i20n, the latter beginning at £26,230.

So what are you getting for this additional lump of money? For starters, normal spec listing is stocked properly. Clearly, it comes with the “Efficiency Pack” (this was an possibility on each Fiesta ST and Puma ST, however now’s normal) in addition to a complete host of tech. Auto Parking, Auto lights and wipers, Navigation, CarPlay (not that I ever acquired it to work…) and a incredible B&O Stereo. As soon as I spec a Fiesta ST as much as that, we’re nearer to the £30k mark, which brings the hole down considerably.

It’s honest to say the appears to be like of the automotive divide opinion, particularly this one painted in “Imply Inexperienced”. When it was first launched, I didn’t look after the styling in any respect, maybe largely because of utilizing the Puma title for one thing that wasn’t a bit coupe. Nonetheless, as time has handed, it’s rising on me. I even just like the paint, which is an ST solely selection. Sadly, Ford have determined to delete this color possibility, maybe a sign in direction of the type of buyer the Puma attracts. There are different methods to identify an ST mannequin out of your normal equipment nonetheless, courtesy of these 19” Wheels and the “Ford Efficiency” embossed splitter. That’s in fact when you’ve already missed the intense pink ST badges, or slash lower twin tailpipes.

Transferring inside, you’re greeted by but extra branding to remind you it’s the spicy variant. Ford Efficiency sill plaques, an ST wheel and the wonderful bucket seats. They’re a daring selection in what is generally a automotive with a watch on practicality, the big bolsters making entry and exit from the drivers seat a bit extra tight than chances are you’ll anticipate. When you’re in them although, they’re extremely comfy and supportive. The ultimate icing on the ST-Cake is the 6 pace shift knob, which could be very welcome to see in an period of numerous “paddle solely” sizzling hatches. Its only a disgrace that the inside high quality isn’t fairly what you’d anticipate from a £30k+ automotive, however then once more its fairly in step with most Ford merchandise.

As beforehand said, you additionally get many of the tech inside as normal. The touchscreen infotainment unit, which could be dim witted at occasions, is paired with a wonderful B&O stereo system. I simply want it was extra intuitive to make use of, I by no means labored out how you can get Apple CarPlay working for my cellphone! Fortunately all of the HVAC controls have bodily buttons, they solely use the show to indicate you what you’re on. Which, once more, could be pissed off when it lags behind your enter. The identical is true of the digital sprint, which at occasions appeared like I used to be attempting to load it by way of dial up. It’s price noting that for when the British climate will get a tad extra British, you additionally get: heated seats, steering wheel, fast clear windscreen, auto lights and auto wipers. However since its summer time, solely the air-con acquired a radical exercise on this check. Of the non-paint choices fitted, the lively tailgate was most likely probably the most helpful. For £400 you’ll be able to open the boot by wiggling your foot beneath the rear bumper, and shut it with a button. The “Driver Help Pack”, which listing of options consists of the phrase “lively” greater than as soon as, does embody some superb parking cameras. That mentioned, it additionally consists of the flexibility to park itself, so in principle you don’t want them proper?

However sufficient chat about fixtures and fittings for now, sizzling hatches are all about how they drive, not that I used to be totally positive that was going to be the case right here. I believe I used to be anticipating a Fiesta ST with the sides blunted off, an each so barely softened up method to components. Inside a mile, that assumption was utterly blown out of the water. Simply leaving my village out onto a B street, the automotive was pulling on each little little bit of camber, seemingly a homing machine for all potholes. I even assumed it had lane help turned on at one level, but it surely didn’t. This actually has a geometry like a MK1 Focus RS, its all in regards to the flip in and dealing with, much less so in regards to the day-to-day errands. Couple that with a fairly harsh trip, I’m as soon as once more asking myself “who is that this automotive for?”. Right here we’re with these dangerous first impressions once more…

While the automotive does really feel oddly nervous, it’s clear they’ve not diluted the ST Recipe, which needs to be applauded. I assume to any extent further I have to assume we have now a driver’s automotive right here, an fanatic possibility, and peddle it accordingly. Theres lots occurring beneath to help that argument, too. A Mechanical LSD, Launch Management, Sport and Monitor modes all on supply right here. It could be impolite to not present it a few of my favorite check routes.

My first little bit of stomping floor is an actual check for a vehicles suspension, I wont name-names but it surely’s additionally utilized by an area farmer. Let’s simply say his Youtube channel rhymes with Garys Harrage. Both approach, the Pumas damping immediately impressed. Maybe on the agency aspect when pottering round, while you begin layering on some pace it handles almost all that’s thrown at it exceedingly properly. A number of the compressions on that route are actual bump-stop finders, too. Couple that with good steering really feel, and the unwavering grip from the Michelin PS4S’, and we have now a little bit of a weapon on our palms.

And while it isn’t what you’d name quick, (The three cylinder, 1.6 Turbo is unchanged from the Fiesta with 197bhp. However with round 150kg additional mass to haul round) the dynamics of the automotive greater than make up for it. I additionally love a hot-hatch you’ll be able to rev out with out breaking the legislation, and this little ecoboost motor could be fairly addictive. The three pot noise, the crackles from the exhaust and naturally the faint chirp from the Turbo while you carry off. Irrespective of how a lot is synthesised, I’m all of the happier to take heed to it.

You’ll have observed, I’ve spoken primarily in regards to the in-family feud Ford has between this and the Fiesta. Nonetheless, since Ford are fixing that by the use of execution, maybe I ought to discuss extra in regards to the Korean Elephant within the room. The Hyundai i20n. It too is a 1.6T with 200bhp, a 6 Pace guide and an LSD. However it’s £5,000 cheaper. The Puma does really feel a bit extra refined, with higher supplies it’s true, however I nonetheless can’t recover from that worth.

While I’m being smart, it’s most likely time we circled again spherical to the boring topic of practicality. That’s in spite of everything why you purchase a sizzling hatch, and it’s particularly why folks appear to purchase a crossover. The reality is that the rear seats appear to supply no extra room than a fiesta, and the sloping roof means it may possibly really feel a bit darkish and claustrophobic again there. The boot area nonetheless is way bigger, measuring 456L verses the Fiestas 292L and I20’s 352L. You additionally get one thing referred to as the “megabox”, an enormous space of storage beneath the boot ground which is waterproof and has drain plugs too!

After a complete week with the automotive, it was troublesome to sum up a conclusion. On the one hand, I nonetheless can’t fairly fathom who its truly meant for. On the opposite, I applaud Ford for making it in any respect. Maybe it’s for the fanatic who wants to hold a bit extra round than an everyday hatch can match? Or perhaps it’s for the crossover purchaser who desires one thing a bit sporty?

Both approach, it’s residing proof that with the correct engineers, you can also make nearly any style of automotive enjoyable to drive quick. If manufacturers are transferring away from the traditional super-mini in direction of this kind of car, I’m glad somebody continues to be flying the flag for the Sizzling Hatch regardless. For me although? If I used to be out there for a model new small sizzling hatch proper now, there are solely two decisions: I might be within the Hyundai, however solely by a whisker.