The Ford Puma ST Gold is a worthwhile special edition despite the hike in price, which is the main reason this car loses half a star compared with its regular sibling. Performance and practicality are identical, but the ST Gold’s styling add-ons and limited production run do give it a level of exclusivity that some fast Ford fans will be willing to pay the extra cash for.
Fans of fast Fords are among the most loyal in the world. They love the products and Ford knows this, which is how the brand’s Puma ST Gold came to exist.
Born out of an online “experiment in human centred design”, Ford has allowed enthusiasts to choose the spec of a special edition Puma ST, resulting in this.
There were a number of different spec points punters could choose their ideal choice of, with more than 275,000 casting their vote in a social media poll. These include the ST Gold’s paint colour, which contrary to the name is black; 56 per cent chose this colour, while three quarters went for red brake calipers sat behind a set of lovely 19-inch matt gold alloy wheels.
Grey seatbelt stitching and exterior graphics proved most popular, and they do give the Puma ST Gold a subtle lift inside and out compared with the regular model. The contrasting black paint and gold alloys really do set the look off.
Car group tests
At £32,595 it’s a pricey machine that some won’t see value in compared with the standard £29,260 Puma ST, which features a similar level of kit, but for those looking for exclusivity, this limited-run car offers just that.
Otherwise, it’s broadly identical to the regular Puma ST, which means it’s powered by the same 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine pumping out 197bhp and 320Nm of torque for a 0-62mph time of 6.7 seconds.
It feels rapid and pugnacious, the turbo’s boost building quickly from low revs and sometimes overwhelming the front tyres in tricky conditions. However, fitted with the Performance pack as standard (a £950 option on the standard Puma ST) and featuring a limited-slip diff fitted, traction is still good.
The engine’s torque hits hard to make the most of this and the ST delivers punchy mid-range performance. However, as with the Fiesta ST and the regular Puma hot SUV, both of which use this engine, it does run out of urgency as the revs rise towards the limiter.
Its soundtrack also sounds a little strained higher up, but where the engine does its best work (and how you’ll likely drive it most) the deep but still-characterful soundtrack it delivers, exhaust burbling, dispels any ideas that a three-cylinder engine means a thrummy, boring and budget note. Select Track mode and the engine sound enhancer gives an even deeper sound.
As with all modern hot Fords the ST Gold’s steering is very fast and very direct, to the point where it may catch you out given it’s an SUV. Sometimes, in a higher-riding car like this fast steering can cause roll as the chassis struggles to keep up, but not with the Puma ST.
The support the suspension offers is brilliant, but it still allows weight transfer so that a little lift of the accelerator in a corner tightens the car’s line noticeably – but more importantly, it delivers a great connection to the car and plenty of fun in a more practical package.
It does mean that the ST Gold is on the firm side, but this simply suits the car’s character – yet it’s not uncomfortable. Over bumpy roads you’ll get jiggled around in the sports seat, which places you in a lovely driving position; not too high despite its compact SUV proportions.
There is noticeable body movement, but for a performance-focused model the ST does its best to filter out a good degree of the nastiness the surface throws up.
Efficiency is fine, at a claimed 41.5mpg and 155g/km of CO2 emissions, and the ST Gold receives lots of standard kit. This includes Ford’s eight-inch SYNC3 infotainment set-up with sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless phone charging, heated seats and a heated steering wheel, a 12.3-inch digital dash, climate and cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, LED headlights, plus enough safety kit to make it competitive as a family car.
Practicality is unchanged over the standard model, which means it’s a little cramped in the back for this size and class of car, but it’s acceptable, while the MegaBox boot storage function is a clever idea that allows some overspill (or storage of wet or dirty items) from the 456-litre boot.
For the limited number of buyers (production numbers have not yet been disclose) that will receive a car we’re sure there’ll be pretty pleased with the additions from Ford Performance’s public vote.
|Model:||Ford Puma ST Gold|
|Engine:||1.5-ltire 3cyl turbo petrol|
|Transmission:||Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive|