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2020 Ford Puma ST: hot crossover seen without disguise

Autocar 2020-02-13 00:00:00

 is readying an ST performance version of its , and our spy photographers have caught it completely undisguised for the first time. 

The new images confirm that the  rival will feature a trapezoidal lower grille design, large, performance-inspired alloy wheels shod in low-profile tyres and the same wing-mounted headlight clusters as the standard model.

The big clue as to this prototype's performance ambitions is a prominent lower bodykit that extends around the car from the splitter-style front bumper to a new rear bumper designed around twin tailpipes - the same as those fitted to the . 

Official details of the model's drivetrain and chassis set-up are still yet to be confirmed, but previous images of the prototype raising a rear wheel under hard cornering show it will feature a stiffer suspension set-up in the same vein as the Fiesta ST. The big wheels appear to hide larger-diameter front brakes, too, while the car seems lower to the ground than the regular Puma.

Ford global development boss Hau Thai-Tang told Autocar last year that the Puma “would be a good place for us to look” in expanding the ST range beyond the and in Europe. The Puma ST is expected to share its key running gear, including a 197bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, with the Fiesta ST.

As confirmed by the latest photos, the ST version of the Puma will not vary drastically from the ST-Line version of the car, which was revealed last April. But we can expect a bespoke chassis set-up, possibly including an optional limited-slip differential, selectable driving modes and a launch control function.

Thai-Tang said Ford is keen to continue leveraging its Ford Performance arm for road car development but that the company wouldn't simply look to create an ST version of each car. In addition to its two European hot hatches, Ford also makes ST versions of its Edge and Explorer large SUVs. 

“We look at creating STs by very objective measures to make sure it is credible as an ST,” said Thai-Tang. “Do we have the right building blocks [on which to base it]?” 

is also understood to be in development, but hinges on its engineers that fits in with the new EU regime for average fleet CO2 emissions

“We have nothing to announce, but we recognise the importance of that car,” said Thai-Tang. 

“We’ll see where we go,” Ford’s automotive president Joe Hinrichs said. “The world is changing on powertrain and propulsion. No hints, but there’s a lot to talk through.”

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