If you absolutely have to do the whole performance crossover thing, there’s only one that should be seriously considered. So long as you don’t need a big car, the incoming Ford Puma ST is set to be by far the best-driving small crosser around, and a test mule has been spotted almost completely undisguised.
Save for a lack of ST badging and the odd bit of tape, this is how we can expect the showroom-fresh version of the car to look. The prototype is noticeably lower than the regular version of the Puma, and it’s wearing the same design of wheels fitted to the Fiesta ST.
It’s based on the same platform as the hatchback, so we can be confident in saying it’ll receiving the Fiesta ST’s powertrain unaltered. That means 197bhp and 214lb ft from a 1.5-litre inline-three turbo engine, and since the Puma isn’t much heavier than the Fiesta, the 0-62mph time should still be comfortably under the seven-second mark.
Bearing that modest weight increase in mind, plus the fairly minor increase in ride height, it’ll be damn near as good to drive as the Fiesta. And we all know what a riot that thing is to chuck around a set of bends.
Hopefully, the Puma will be receiving its ST cousin’s unusual banana-shaped ‘directionally-wound’ springs, which make for a communicative and hilariously mobile rear axle. We’re also expecting there to be a Performance Pack on the options list, which will add a mechanical Quaife ATB limited-slip differential into the mix along with a launch control system.
Price-wise, the Ford Puma ST should weigh in around £30,000. That’ll make it significantly cheaper than something like a T-Roc R, although it’s worth pointing out the VW is slightly bigger, all-wheel drive and more powerful. But more fun? Most likely not.
A closer rival will eventually arrive in the form of Hyundai’s planned Kona N, although it’s currently unclear which vehicle will emerge first.