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Mountune Ford Puma ST m260 2023 review

UK-based tuner Mountune adds some flare to the Puma ST, but certain changes won’t be for some

Evo rating
  • More power, engaging sound
  • Still not quite as sharp as its Fiesta sibling

​​​The compact SUV is something we’re not typically fond of at evo, with the physics of their taller stature dictating compromised dynamics and dulled response. Tuned by Ford Performance, though, the Puma ST proved to be one of the best on sale, and now UK-based tuner Mountune has sharpened it further with its m260 package.

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This more practical take on the hot Puma does lack the dynamic edge of a traditional hot hatchback like the smaller Fiesta, though, and with many rivals coming from a segment above, competitors like the Hyundai Kona N and Volkswagen T-Roc R make the Ford’s 197bhp output feel somewhat lacklustre. Both rivals pair powertrains with closer to 300bhp with dual-clutch transmissions. Now, though, Mountune has closed that gap…

> Ford Focus ST review

At its core is the same excellent 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder EcoBoost as the standard car and its Fiesta ST counterpart, but thanks to a combination of hardware and software tweaks, output now stands at 256bhp and 269lb ft of torque – a strong 59bhp and 33lb ft increase over standard, with peak power coming 450rpm sooner and peak torque 750rpm later than before. For comparison, that brings the Puma’s power-to-weight to 192bhp/ton, more than the 186bhp/ton of the more expensive Hyundai Kona N.

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Power is sent to the front axle through the standard six-speed manual and limited-slip differential, with the increased outputs helping it reach 62mph in 6sec flat, seven-tenths quicker than stock and half a second quicker than a standard Fiesta ST. In practice, the powertrain upgrades are immediately apparent from a standstill, with an increase in throttle response providing a sense of urgency lacking from the standard car, making rev matching much more intuitive than before. At speed, the additional output isn’t so obvious until you glance at the speedometer, but it undoubtedly bridges the gap in pace between the standard car and its Fiesta ST sibling.

The tune doesn’t only increase power, as there’s also a more aggressive launch control function (albeit still not particularly effective) and optimised no-lift shift. There’s a boost in exhaust overrun on lift-off, too, with what Mountune has appropriately titled the ‘Anti Social Mountune Overrun’ and the ability to return to standard power at the press of a button via a smartphone app.

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Perhaps more notable than the power increase is the improved shift feel, with this car equipped with both Mountune’s billet aluminium gearknob (£59) and short-shift arm (£99). The result is a 25 per cent reduction in throw distance and a considerably more tactile shift, greatly improving on one of the Puma ST’s key downfalls – the new shifter even retains the factory reverse mechanism, making DIY installation a breeze.

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Chassis changes are limited to the Sport spring set (£190), lowering ride height by 25mm for a marginal drop in centre of gravity – we’d be intrigued to test one with uprated dampers, but the price could well outweigh the benefits. Though the new springs alone aren’t something most will notice on the road, new lightweight Clubsport OZ Leggier wheels (£2059) will reduce unsprung weight for marginal performance gains. There is an improvement in off-centre steering response and a noticeable uplift in grip levels, but it’s likely that these benefits are thanks to the fitment of sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres on this example.

Like the Fiesta it's based on, the Puma fares surprisingly well with an additional helping of power, with the chassis remaining composed and responsive. We’re certain that even with the standard-fit Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres the Puma would handle the extra output without an issue, but Cup 2s only improve matters further.

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Peer into the lower intake and you’ll spot a neatly-integrated Mountune-branded intercooler (£575), upgraded to keep temperatures in check, with a fetching new matte carbonfibre induction kit (£399) boosting both airflow and intake sound. On the subject of sound, there’s also a GPF-back 60mm exhaust system with carbon tips (£799) and a rather addictive dump valve, adding a dose of additional drama to the driving experience – whether some will appreciate these not-so subtle changes in a family crossover, I’m not so sure. If you’d like even more volume, though, less restrictive Sports GPF and catalytic converters are also in the works.

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In terms of exterior design, this particular example has been adorned with Mountune decals (£85) for a more aggressive aesthetic, with those lightweight black wheels, Mountune-branded intercooler, mud flaps and carbon exhaust tips also adding to the look. Of course, if you’d like to tone things down and retain a stock appearance, you can opt out of any of these additions and cherry-pick only the upgrades that suit your needs.

The m260 (£695) set-up isn’t all Mountune has to offer, with m235 (£595) and a range-topping m285 (£2449) package also available for the Puma ST. The package we have on test doesn’t strictly require any additional hardware, but a new carbon induction kit (£399), the upgraded charge pipe (£166) and intercooler (£575) are all recommended to maximise performance and ensure longevity. The m285 kit requires some significant hardware changes to achieve the maximum output reliably, including a modified factory turbocharger, new induction kit, charge pipe, intercooler and forged pistons and rods.

Prices and rivals

With pricey wheels, the induction kit and aesthetic modifications, this Mountune demo car isn’t a particularly cost-effective way to get your performance crossover fix. Though the changes still don’t quite defy the laws of physics to offer a superior driving experience to the Fiesta ST, pick and choose the tweaks that best suit you and you can absolutely improve on the already excellent standard car to provide a unique blend of practicality and performance.

The standard Ford Puma ST starts from £32,350 with the all-important Performance Pack, putting it at a £5000 premium to an equivalent Fiesta ST from the get-go. Tick enough boxes with Mountune and you’ll soon be within the realm of the more potent DCT-equipped Hyundai Kona N, priced from £35,820. Go steady with the modifications, though, and you can have yourself a practical, sharpened Puma ST at a very reasonable price.

Mountune Ford Puma ST m260 specs

EngineFour-cylinder, turbocharged, 1.5-litre
Power256bhp @ 5550rpm
Torque269lb ft @ 3250rpm
Weight1358kg (192bhp/ton)
0-62mph6.0sec (estimated)
Top speed145mph (estimated)
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