The Rallye Sport version of the Focus won’t be with us until next year, but already Ford has been inundated with orders, mostly in that Electric Green hue. If you happen to be one of those keen beans with an order in already, then you’re probably like an amalgamation of one of Pavlov’s hounds and an impatient child in the weeks before Christmas. The wait must seem unbearable, and the rest of your family are no doubt getting irritated by the drooling every time you see one of the press shots.
Engine and upgrades
But help could be at hand, because Ford now offers an upgrade kit that should keep those who currently own an ST happy until their RS arrives. Mountune did the tuning on the hugely entertaining Fiesta ST185 we tried earlier this year (evo 115), and the same company, in association with Ford Team RS, has been drafted in again to pump-up the Focus. Their package brings a larger intercooler, a high-flow air filter and, most importantly, revised engine calibration. Once fitted this lifts power from 222bhp to a very useful 256bhp at 5500rpm, but even more impressively, torque is increased from 236lb ft to 295lb ft at 2500rpm, which is almost exactly the figure expected from the RS…
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I’ve driven a lot of tuned Focus STs over the last couple of years. Some took a serious amount of concentration to spot the difference, others slapped you round the face with huge wallops of tuned turbocharged torque. Turning out of the office car park and onto the long straight that begins my favourite local test route, it’s a relief to discover that the first Ford-sanctioned tuning kit is very definitely in the ‘noticeable’ camp.
The lovely quattro-esque beat from the straight-five engine has been turned up a couple of notches, which makes you smile like Imprezas used to before their inlet manifolds were tampered with. It’s the first time I’ve driven a facelifted ST and it’s also a relief to find that the Recaros have been lowered a little, although hopefully the RS’s buckets will sink further still.
Performance and 0-60 times
Straights are devoured hilariously quickly and the claimed 0-100mph time of 14.1sec seems almost conservative. The torque gets to work early in the rev range and in the first couple of gears it’s easy to start breaking traction on a dry road. Even into third you’ll find the tyres struggling to cope, particularly as you accelerate out of corners, the traction control smoothly curbing your enthusiasm.
The ST has always had a slightly mellower feel to it than something like a GTI or R26, slightly heavier and slower in its direction changes, with a little more roll in the corners, yet this actually helps you to relax with the extra power. Once you’ve tuned in to the Focus’s attitude and learnt to be measured with the throttle, you find that the pace you can carry down a B-road is deceptively fast and seriously impressive. Turn the TC off and you’re not left with an uncontrollable beast.
You need to be considered and progressive with your right foot – and the limited-slip diff due to appear on the RS would undoubtedly be a welcome addition – but you don’t need to constantly back off every time you hit a camber for fear of torque-steering into a field. A complementary performance suspension kit is currently under development, but it’ll need to be good to improve grip and yet still cope as impressively with bumps as the standard set-up.
The £1120 price (plus fitting) doesn’t make the Mountune Performance Pack a bargain, but importantly it won’t affect your standard warranty. And if you do have it fitted it will certainly keep you entertained until your RS turns up.
|Engine||In-line 5-cyl, 2521cc, turbo|
|Max power||256bhp @ 5500rpm|
|Max torque||295lb ft @ 2500rp|
|Top speed||155mph (limited)|