fast, agile, fun – why would you need anything else?

Ford Puma ST Gold Edition with Andrew English - Andrew Crowley

Ford Puma ST Gold Edition with Andrew English – Andrew Crowley

For the past two years I have mainly driven a Ford Kuga plug-in hybrid (PHEV) on loan from the company. Mine was the last test vehicle out of Ford’s press garage before the doors closed during the March 2020 lockdown, and during that and the many other lockdowns I traveled in it across the country reporting on car plants opening and closing, and to driving car importers to evaluate new models, picnicking and napping in laybys and covering nearly 40,000 miles in the £37,705 vehicle at an average of 49 mpg.

There were some hiccups at the start, when Ford had to recall all Kuga PHEVs following incidents of overheating while charging the battery. I also managed to blow out the front grille indicator lights after starting the vehicle. On the Kuga Owners’ Club site there are a few reports of misbehaving indicator lights, but nothing about this happening after jump start.

That Kuga got me through the lockdown, so giving it back was pretty hard if it weren’t for the replacement.

It’s a Puma ST, but not just any ST. It’s the Gold Edition, with embellishments courtesy of suggestions from 275,000 Ford Performance fans who came up with a series of upgrades for the Fiesta supermini-based crossover. This is number 10 of 999 build. And while I’m not a big fan of social media, this car is a real fan, from its matte black panels with gold pinstripes to its 19-inch gold wheels that hint at those on performance Alfa Romeos of yesteryear.

The suspension is stiffer, the exhaust is louder and there is a limited-slip differential in the front axle. Inside you will find gold stitching, a set of beautiful form-fitting sports seats and a B&O stereo.

Under the hood is the same 197PS, 1.5-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged engine as the Fiesta ST, but with torque increased from 214Nm to 236Nm. ST’s 0-62mph time of 6.7 seconds and there’s plenty of passing power.

Ford Puma ST Gold Edition

Ford Puma ST Gold Edition

Whichever gear you choose, you step on the accelerator and the nose slurps up the tarmac; change down and it’s a bit of fireworks. And all this with a fuel consumption of 38 mpg on the test, against a combined WLTP consumption of 41.5 mpg and CO2 emissions of 155 g/km.

We now know that the Fiesta’s days are numbered (at least in three-door form) and probably forever, as Ford moves to an all-electric range largely based on Volkswagen’s MEB electric platform which will be built in a repurposed factory in Cologne. Under what Ford of Europe president Steven Armstrong called “decisive action” last month, Ford will drop its low-selling models and move inexorably to an electric lineup, with the Puma still produced in Romania but moving to battery electric. drivetrain too.

Which means there’s an almost unbearable thrill in driving this non-electrified five-door hatchback, which is probably one of the last internal combustion engine performance Fords ever. It’s still a little early, but maybe we should get ready to mourn the great faster acronyms of the past that (almost) unfailingly served to make the heart beat a little faster: ST; RS; AVO. I understand that Ford’s talented set-up engineers have had a VW ID.3 at their Lommel test track in Belgium and it hasn’t done them much good. So much so that a wider version of the electric chassis is planned for Ford, which might improve handling a bit, but it will be much heavier than this sub-1.3-tonne car.

So a switch to electric power could mean saying goodbye to the Puma ST’s exhilarating cornering, pin-sharp, progressive steering and sheer fun of the chassis, which more than makes up for the lack of power. .

However, there are a number of drawbacks. The first is the price, which with the optional £600 Driver Assistance Pack, which combines emergency braking, side monitoring and active park assist with a rear-view camera, comes to £33,195. Here, remember that the mammoth Focus ST hatchback is already available for just £21,655.

Ford Puma ST Gold Edition

Ford Puma ST Gold Edition

The second is the jarring ride quality on anything but perfect road surfaces, especially over sharp bumps, which crash through the bodywork. This is combined with the roar of tires on grippy asphalt and particularly concrete highway surfaces, drowning out the B&O stereo so effectively that I turned it off.

The combination has had a curious effect, namely to make passengers feel sick. It might be a great ride, but the Puma Gold is an expensive way to feel sick. I’ll report on whether this tendency diminishes as the miles pile up…


Looking back, I have mixed feelings about the car that was my daily driver for six months. I certainly miss the Puma’s asphalt-tearing liveliness, which is a hallmark of all souped-up Fords of the past.

This ST Gold limited-edition version of Ford’s B-segment family crossover has real teeth and fun in its make-up. A few days before it left, I had the chance to take a quick drive across the country, its steering fineness, excellent brakes and damping giving it the accuracy and spirit of fun that are the prerequisites of any decent hot hatchback.

Add to that the magnificent 197 hp three-cylinder turbocharged engine with torque boosted to 236 lb ft, and the ST Gold is a genuinely fun and fast car, with convincing chassis balance and communicative steering.

It’s partly the feeling of knowing exactly how the car will react when you first move the wheel that makes this car so adjustable and entertaining. You almost want it around corners and as the corner tightens, a slight lift from the throttle will bring the nose back into line.

We had also holidayed in the Yorkshire Wolds and although it was just the two of us and our Labrador the space and swallowing of luggage of the standard Puma shell was something to behold. Rain boots? No problem because they fit in the huge wet tray in the boot floor. And at a slightly roaring highway speed to God’s own province, the average fuel economy was over 41 mpg, which is pretty close to the official WLTP economy figure of 41.5 mpg and really good for something capable of 140 miles / h and 0-100 km / h in just 6.7 seconds.

Besides the pin-sharp control response, it’s the engine’s exhilarating mid-range response that puts such a smile on your face. The shift quality of the six-speed manual is slick, no matter how many times you just don’t need to shift, just hit the accelerator and the engine answers the call.

Unfortunately, the roar of the tapes was also something to behold, making the fine interpretation of an audio signal by the B&O stereo somewhat redundant.

Those are the good points; most comments from a Fiesta ST, one of the best hot hatchbacks of all time, with the baggage of, well, almost a Focus.

I even like the matte black paintwork with gold (actually more autumn yellow) stripes, which match the seat stitching and dash accents, said to have been chosen by 275,000 online Ford fans. I’m not too sure about the hard-to-clean gold wheels or the red brake calipers, but the overall effect is tasteful, which you can’t say about all souped-up editions of stock cars.

Ford Puma ST Gold Edition with Andrew English - Andrew Crowley

Ford Puma ST Gold Edition with Andrew English – Andrew Crowley

The bad point is the price which at £32,595 was a bit of a swallow. All 999 editions of the first Gold Editions have now been sold, but if you can’t live without a Gold Puma, Ford has included the Gold name as a further trim line for the Puma ST-Line Edition. But even this car’s equivalent, the unadorned Puma ST Performance Pack (which includes a limited slip differential, launch control and a performance shift indicator) costs an equally painful £32,350 down the road.

Cars aren’t cheap anymore, although some online sites reckon they can get up to £2,226 off the retail price of a Puma ST. And if you don’t bother digging through the adverts too much, Puma STs with a number plate of 22 and no more than 10,000 miles are almost £26,000, even from dealers.

However, before you run out and buy arguably the last petrol-powered Ford ever, you should also know how it drives; it is not good.

The 19-inch wheels jolt and bounce through sharp bumps and holes in the road, while a sleeping police officer feels as if he’s being pulled in a sleigh across a rocky beach. There’s swaying on roads where the edges are sunken or worn away and the backs of the protruding seats butt your spine so that a long, fast journey is quite tiring; some even got sick in the car.

Is it worth it for what is arguably the best-handling small crossover on the market? Only you can decide, but while I found this car very desirable when I was alone, it wasn’t much of a ride for the rest of the family.

If the angel on my right shoulder doubted this ST, the devil on the left would love to have it back…

The facts

Body Style: Five-door, five-seat family SUV crossover

For sale: now

How many? from £32,595

How fast? 220 km/h, 0-100 km/h in 6.7 seconds

How economical? 41.5 mpg WLTP combined, on test 38 mpg

Engine & gearbox: 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol, six-speed manual gearbox, front-wheel drive via limited slip differential

Maximum Power/Torque: 197 hp/236 lb ft

CO2 emissions: 155g/km

VED: £585 first year, then £165

Warranty: 3 years / 60,000 miles

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