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Ford gives Puma an 'ST' automatic

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The new Ford Puma ST Powershift uses mild-hybrid tech for more power.

Ford is giving us a new Puma ST model, which means that we can soon expect to be bombing around our favourite backroads, with a 200hp turbo engine snarling away… Hang on, that’s not what this is at all.

More power from the 1.0 EcoBoost

The new Puma ST Powershift gets the famed ST badge in its name, but it’s not - strictly speaking - a ‘proper’ ST model at all. In fact, what it is is a clever 48-volt mild-hybrid version of the regular Puma 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol, with a new seven-speed ‘Powershift’ dual-clutch automatic gearbox. The mild-hybrid stuff here is pretty smart. It recharges the Puma’s teeny-tiny battery faster, allowing the electric motor to add an extra 10hp to the 155hp that the Puma’s tweaked-up 1.0-litre engine was already delivering. Combined, Ford claims that the Puma ST Powershift is capable of 170hp (not quite sure how that maths works out, but let’s go with it…) and 248Nm of torque. Ford helpfully points out that because this is a 1.0-litre engine, it has twice the per-capacity power of an original Ford Focus ST, even though the power output is exactly the same as that 2002 legend. You’ll get a 7.4-second 0-100 km/h acceleration time alongside 6.3 l/100km fuel efficiency and 144g/km CO2. The three-cylinder engine gets some electronic management tweaks and some active exhaust valve technology lifted from the full-fat Puma ST. "The combination of a downsized engine and electrified technology helps reduce fuel consumption and emissions while providing accessible, everyday performance. Together with the recalibrated Powershift transmission, this package delivers smart performance and emotional ST fun-to-drive," said Stefan Muenzinger, Ford Performance manager, Europe.

Triple downshifts

In normal driving, the seven-speed Powershift dual-clutch auto will keep the engine working at the most efficient rate for the 48-volt mild-hybrid system. There is a Sport mode, and the gearbox can triple-downshift on the approach to corners for maximum responsiveness. You can use the paddle shifters behind the wheel to control everything, of course. The Puma ST Powershift gets some of the same chassis and suspension tuning as the ‘proper’ Puma ST, including a rear suspension twist-beam rated at 2,000 Nm/deg torsional stiffness - an increase of more than 50 per cent compared to the standard Puma - with a 28 mm anti-roll bar integrated into the U‑section and a 24 mm front anti-roll bar.

Stiffer, sharper suspension

The Puma ST Powershift also gets ‘force vectoring springs’, increasing the suspension's lateral stiffness for better precision. The dampers are Hitachi twin-tube frequency-reactive front and rear. The steering is 25 per cent quicker across its locks than that of the standard Puma, and torque vectoring control uses the brakes to help deliver power to the front wheel that can best handle it. Finally, there are bigger brakes - 325 mm front discs - 17 per cent larger in diameter than the standard Puma specification - befitting a car wearing the ST badge. Needless to say, the Puma ST Powershift gets a chunky ST bodykit, but it’s not all for show. A new front splitter - Ford Performance-embossed, in true 80s hot hatch style - increases front-end downforce by almost 80 per cent versus the standard Puma. A large rear roof spoiler and distinctive rear diffuser also feature, while signature ST upper and lower front grille also feature. There’s also a new ST-exclusive Azura Blue paint option, while you also get a gloss black finish for the roof and standard black grille surrounds, side spears, door mirror caps and rear roof spoiler, and a Magnetite finish on the standard 19-inch alloy wheels. Inside are Ford Performance-developed sports seats finished in premium Sensico synthetic leather-effect material, a wireless charging pad, Quickclear heated windscreen, front and rear parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers, FordPass Connect modem, and Ford’s SYNC3 communications and entertainment system, compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Available driver assistance technologies include Pre-Collision Assist with Active Braking, Active Park Assist, Cross Traffic Alert with Active Braking, and Intelligent Speed Limiter. The Puma ST Powershift retains its practical side, with a useful 456 litres of boot space, plus the 80-litre ‘Megabox’ that sits under the boot floor, which is waterproof and hose-out.

Published on March 8, 2023
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