But what if someone built a car that broke pretty much all of those rules and then had the temerity to stick the same badge on it as a hot hatch? Would it have any right to be called a hot hatch, and would it be any good? I guess we’d better find out when ford announced that it was bringing back the puma as a crossover. There was some relatively understandable consternation among fans of fast forwards. You see the puma was an icon, possibly the final small coupe that ford would ever make and one of its finest so sticking the name on a crossover. Well that was controversial. When the puma arrived, it looked pretty good and then for performance dollars. There would be an st version and it would keep all the things that we love about little fast forwards, and we said that we would believe them when we saw it and, more importantly, drove it. Well, that day is today Music, so it’s, just a high riding ford, fiesta st then well that’s pretty much right. There are a few differences, though. For a start, it looks a lot like a frog and that’s, a similarity that can only be enhanced by this lurid mean green color. They’Ve gone for let’s, be honest. They could probably have called it the kermit rather than the puma underneath it’s everything you expect from a small, st except it’s, just a little bit taller than the fiesta it’s, the same 1.
5 litre, three cylinder engine you find in its little brother, producing 200 horsepower it’s Front wheel, drive and it’s got a six speed manual, gearbox and there’s that little active exhaust at the back to give it a much more naughty sound than it really should have. But there are some more changes. The puma is a not insignificant, 96 kilograms, heavier than the fiesta, so it’s been given more torque 30 newton meters to be precise, to make sure that it can match the fiesta’s not 60 time of 6.7 seconds going in the opposite direction. The active exhaust has actually been turned down a little bit from the fiesta to the tune of a single decibel, apparently to make cruising more comfortable, then there’s. The fact that it has a massive massive boot. The puma is actually more than just a fiesta with some blocks stuck into the suspension to lift it up, it’s very much its own car, and that means that ford have had to do some significant work to turn it into an st. It starts on this performance pack car with a limited slip, differential it’s, a proper mechanical quaff model, rather than some edif there’s, also torque vectoring, to help increase traction out of the corners there’s new anti roll bars there’s a stiffer rear twist beam and it’s even got Something called force, vectoring springs, which will help make it even stiffer the brakes, thankfully, are 17 larger than those on the standard puma, which is well reassuring.
Considering how much faster this thing will go, then there’s the steering which is 25 faster than the standard puma, to help give it a little bit of that quick front, end feeling that you get on the fiesta and if you think the fiesta feels fast at the Front when you turn it well, this thing, if anything, feels even more rapid it’s got quite darty, steering when you’re just driving around normally, but that does mean when you get to a corner. You’Ve got a nice rapid turn, this particular kermit. Sorry car has also been fitted with the optional performance pack, which adds launch control a limited slip differential and some dedicated graphics on the dash for about 950 quid. Despite that faster rack. Turning is not as sharp as it is on the fiesta, but you should probably expect that considering this is both a heavier car and the mass sits higher up. It is, interestingly, the only small suv, well crossover in europe with a limited slip differential, and you can feel when it’s working there’s a genuine feeling in the middle of the corner. If you put power on where you can feel where it snaps from into action, you feel the the whole front end of the car tightens up as you turn, and it feels like you just get that little bit more confidence in the car when that comes into Action everything just feels like it wakes up. Your sort of turning is a bit the steering turns rapidly and you feel the whole car turn, but it doesn’t really want to go with it, it’s carrying so much momentum into it and it’s so high that it the roll means it sort of, does want to Understand more than the fiesta st, which leaves you a little bit less confident on turning.
But you can add a bit of throttle and feel that differential, just pull the nose around really gather everything up it also, and partly because the role, and partly because of the height of this car, you can generate a little bit of lift off oversteer. If you really wanted to, though the front end is dug in so nicely in the weights over the front that the back end can just gently nothing massive just float around a little bit to help you out speaking of floating. It does feel a little bit more floaty through the corners than a fiesta st you don’t feel quite as nailed down. You can feel that it’s wanting to move around a little bit more, but actually you’ve probably got to be more impressed that they’ve made it feel so much like the fiesta, st while being quite a significant amount, bigger the engine. I love this engine. I love this engine on the st. It is an absolute gem, it picks up just as well in this car and doesn’t feel quite as quick, i think that’s, possibly because of the mass that you’re carrying. Yes, there is extra torque in order to try and make the car as fast to 60 miles an hour as the fiesta, but it still feels like it’s having to do more work than normal. Certainly, when you get up the rev range, you want to use that torque rather than in the fiesta where you can just feel a nice whack of power wherever you want it’s still excellent, though, and the thing about it partly is just how good it sounds.
Music. Three cylinder engines are still massively underrated in how good they sound, and this one it sounds brilliant and i’m going to say that if it is a decibel quieter than the fiesta, then i might need someone to define what a decibel actually is because it doesn’t sound. Any quiet to me just sounds really good Applause. I do – and this is the same on most fords, like the fact that there is a separate s button on the steering wheel, so you can just flick it into sport mode whenever you want, rather than having to find your way through the modes. When you stick it into sport mode, though it does make a difference, it’s on passive springs, so there’s no change in the way that the chassis actually moves, but the steering response does sharpen up ever so slightly and that limited slip differential makes a difference when the Two are combined and the engine picks up faster on throttle response and makes just a little bit more noise. If you stick it into track mode, you can get some of those pops and cracks, or you can hear them more on the outside than the inside, which means other people can enjoy it. I guess track mode with this performance pack also means that you have launch control, which is how you get to 60 miles an hour in 6.7 seconds. The interior is that’s, fine, it’s, basically the same interior as you get on the fiesta, but it just feels a little bit there’s, a couple of touches that make it a little bit nicer.
These seats are excellent, as always they’re quite tight. So if you are a larger gentleman, you might find your sides getting busted in and certainly my legs sometimes feel a bit restricted. But the thing that surprised me about this is they’ve got carbon fiber effect around quite a lot of the dash, but the way they’ve done. It actually looks quite nice, it’s matte finish, rather than being some horrible awful shiny, plasticky nonsense, so it actually looks really nice. I think it’s quite good. Is this the future of the hot hatch, with more and more buyers being swayed by the call of a higher driving position? You do wonder how much longer the smaller hot hatch has in its current form, cars like the puma might not be quite to our tastes, but perhaps they are the only way that the small performance car survives while it might not be as sharp as the fiesta Or as true to its purpose as a performance, car it’s remarkable how close ford has managed to make the puma to the fiesta, which remember, we think, is one of the best cars in the world. The question is now whether it’s 10 grand more car than a fiesta, st and i’m going to be honest, i like it but i’m, going to say no it’s bigger than a fiesta st there’s. No denying that and the boot space is very impressive for such a little crossover.