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Ford set to debut Puma ST, not for Aus

Ford Performance is ready to debut its new Puma ST but we won’t be getting it

12 Aug 2020

AS FORD Performance gears up to debut its new Puma ST performance compact SUV in Europe, Ford Australia has poured water on the possibility of a local introduction, confirming to GoAuto that the hi-po little SUV will not being coming Down Under.


Set to be revealed on September 24, Ford Performance has been hinting at and teasing the notion of a Puma ST for several months now with confirmation of the car’s existence and debut date breaking on Twitter via a minute-long video clip.


Despite the obvious excitement of the Ford Performance (Europe) staff in the video and the success of the ST nameplate in Australia, Ford Australia product communications manager Damion Smy said that while the standard Puma is due to arrive here later this year, the ST would not be featured as part of the line-up.


“We’re focussed on bringing the all-new Puma to Australian showrooms later this year, as well as Escape with our first electrified model for Australia, the Escape PHEV,” he said.


“We have a strong performance line-up in 2020, with Ford Performance models including the new Fiesta ST, Focus ST and the Ranger Raptor, but Puma ST will not be available in Australia.”


While concrete details of the Puma ST are yet to be revealed, the standard range is underpinned by the same platform as the Fiesta hatchback, which given its obvious relation to the taller SUV, suggests the Puma ST will debut with the same peppy little turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine as the Fiesta ST, good for 147kW/290Nm.


We can only speculate as to whether or not the Puma ST will stick with the Fiesta’s front-wheel-drive setup although it would make a good deal of sense given that no other Puma variants possess an all-wheel-drive system.


Examining the most recent teaser video, we can see that the dashboard – surrounding the instrument binnacle at least – is finished in faux carbon-fibre looking plastic, the steering wheel is a flat-bottomed unit with a perforated leather rim and ST badging while the wheels are large in diameter and wrapped in low-profile rubber.


Partially red brake callipers can be seen peeking out through the wheel spokes with the whole arrangement sheltered in subtly flared wheelarches while the grille is finished in the classic Ford Performance black mesh, adorned with an ST badge.


The impending reveal of the Puma ST will also hail the return of a hero colour not seen since the second-generation Focus RS; bright green.


Using the Fiesta ST as a basis, the Puma ST should also ride lower than the standard cars, be fitted with Recaro bucket seats and should – initially at least – lob with a six-speed manual transmission.


Those wanting anything resembling a hot or warm SUV from the Blue Oval will have to wait for the launch of the new Escape ST-Line in the fourth quarter of this year, with the mid-sizer’s bigger turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine developing 183kW/387Nm, optionally driving all four wheels and riding on sports-oriented suspension.


For those committed to the Puma, three variants are headed Down Under, two of which – ST-Line and ST-Line V – will ride on ST-tuned suspension like their bigger Escape ST-Line siblings, although the only powertrain option will be a turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine good for 92kW/170Nm.


The omission of a dedicated performance SUV could be a risky move for Ford as other key market players like Volkswagen and Hyundai prepare their respective T-Roc R and Kona N hi-po high-riders, both of which are tipped to have hot-hatch levels of fire-power under the bonnet.


While the T-Roc R is yet to be confirmed for an Australian debut – Volkswagen Group Australia (VGA) is reportedly pushing hard to secure it – the European model is powered by the same force-fed 2.0-litre mill as the Golf R, resulting in 221kW/400Nm being sent to all four wheels.


In Hyundai’s case, things are a little less clear cut given the Kona N is yet to be officially debuted but a multitude of reports from across the industry suggest it will boast the same angry 2.0-litre turbo engine and running gear as the rabid i30 N, which in current guise produces 202kW/353Nm (378Nm on overboost).


At the lower end of the scale, a Puma ST would also provide Ford Australia with a viable rival for the Volkswagen T-Roc 140TSI Sport AWD (140kW/320Nm) which could also step on the toes of more premium models like the related Audi Q2 40TFSI quattro sport.


What’s more, it could also provide Ford Australia with a leg up over its more direct rivals like Mazda (CX-3), Hyundai (Venue) and Nissan (Juke), none of which have warm or hot versions of their respective ‘light’ SUVs.

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