The steering has been uprated, too, making it nearly 25% quicker than on the standard Puma, while the front brake discs are 17% larger for improved stopping performance.
Like the standard Puma, the Puma ST offers Normal, Eco and Sport driving modes, but it swaps the Slippery and Trail functions for a hardcore Track mode, in which the traction control is disabled, the stability control does minimal intervention and all systems are tuned for “the fastest possible lap times” and “the purest driving experience”. An optional performance pack, costing £950, brings a launch control function that improves response off the line and comes with its own dedicated graphical display in the instrument cluster.
Like its Focus and Fiesta siblings, the Puma ST features only subtle visual clues to its performance aspirations. At the front, there’s a new front splitter that bears the branding of the Ford Performance division and is said to improve front-end downforce by almost 80%, plus a revised lower grille that improves cooling.
The rear end gains a new colour-contrasting diffuser that houses twin tailpipes, and the package is rounded off with a set of bespoke 19in alloy wheels wrapped in specially developed Michelin Pilot Sport 4S performance tyres. The roof, grille, side trims, wing mirrors and roof spoiler of the Puma ST are all finished in gloss-black as standard, while the body can be painted in a new, model-exclusive Mean Green shade.
The interior is largely familiar from the standard Puma, but ST-branded Recaro sports seats in the front, bespoke treadplates, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and an ST gearknob set it apart. A wireless smartphone charger, heated windscreen, front and rear parking sensors and smartphone mirroring are all equipped as standard.
Modifications to the rear suspension system haven’t affected the Puma’s trademark Megabox storage cubby, which still offers 80 litres of hidden space under the boot floor.
Customer deliveries are set to get underway before the end of this year, with efficiency figures due to be published closer to the on-sale date.
What next for Ford Performance?