Ford Fiesta Mountune MR230 review - Does the best small hot hatch get even better?

The best supermini money can buy gets serious firepower from Ford-flavoured tuner Mountune. But is it all too much?

Evo rating
Price
from £2,295
  • The best small hot hatch on sale, only with more power
  • At a price, and you'll need to budget for some better tyres

What is it?

The Fiesta MR230 is the latest iteration of one of evo’s favourite hot hatchbacks, breathed upon by Essex-based tuning experts Mountune.

While Ford’s Fiesta ST lost its group test against the Peugeot 208 GTi 30th Anniversary in the spring of 2015, it was Mountune who granted Ford the upper hand when the two next came together, with the MP215 kit. The MR230 – as its name suggests – is even more powerful and more focused.

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Technical details

The more powerful kit consists of (deep breath) a custom aluminium high-flow airbox with dual cold-air feeds, Mountune’s own high-flow panel air filter and a high-flow, three-inch downpipe with a 200-cell sports catalyst with a 2.5-inch cat-back exhaust system.

Then there’s the high-flow charge-pipe upgrade kit and alloy intercooler, silicone induction hose and an mTune handset loaded with ECU calibration software. The unit also allows monitoring of up to six gauges and has a performance meter, a fault-code reader and a path for future updates or upgrades. There’s also a cam-locking tool included to allow for a greater range of cam-advance/retard, which can give a better spread of power and torque, maximising the potential of the standard turbocharger.

Engine, transmission and 0-60mph time

It all amounts to the 1.6-litre turbo four producing 227bhp at 5500rpm (up from 179 at 5700 in standard tune) and 251lb ft at 3000rpm (up from 214 at 1600) and a full second knocked from the 0-62mph time of the standard car (down to 5.9sec). Top speed is a claimed 139mph.

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What’s it like to drive?

A near 30 per cent power increase doesn’t take long to get noticed, and while there is the smallest amount of lag as you feed in the throttle, once you clear 2000rpm the MR230 kit takes hold. And it’s not just the considerable performance increase that makes itself apparent – the MR230 builds speed quicker than our Henry Catchpole puts his hand up to volunteer to test a rally car – but how strong and relentless the engine has become.

The power increase can dominate if you want it to, and on a road you know well the Fiesta will fly along at a sports car-baiting pace. But there is also a generous amount of driveability, so you can march along on a wave of torque when buzzing Caymans and M3s can wait another day. As a package, the MR230 works across all levels, retaining the useability of the standard car.

There is, however, one small issue. In standard tune the factory-fit Bridgestone Potenzas work well with the ST’s chassis, and even with the MP215 package they can deliver when asked to, but here, with the performance increases across the board, they are found wanting. A more aggressive, high-performance tyre would instantly rectify this solitary downside of an otherwise hard-to-ignore upgrade.

Price and rivals

At £2295, the MR230 upgrade isn’t cheap, though if you already have Mountune’s MP215 kit, the step up costs £1995. These prices are for DIY conversions – factor in seven hours of labour if you want a specialist to do it for you. Moreover, this time Mountune‘s upgrade kit may invalidate your warranty.

The 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport remains a close rival, though as the Fiesta’s power increases, standard hot hatchbacks begin to lack the firepower to compete – particularly as even the modified ST is hardly expensive, given how affordable the base car is (from £17,545 currently, and heavy discounts are available).

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