You are here

Ford Focus ST Mountune m330 tested: Brit-tuned hot hatch driven

£31,585 when new

Car specifications

Budget
£31,585
Brake horsepower
280bhp
Fuel consumption
35.8mpg
0–62 mph
5.70s
CO2
179g/km
Max speed
155Mph
Insurance Group
34E

COMPARE CAR FINANCE

The Focus ST enters the hot hatch big leagues…

Power-wise, this is up there with the big dawgs. Mountune’s off-the-shelf upgrade for the Mk4 Focus ST lifts power from 276bhp and an already huge 310lb ft to 325bhp and a *massive* 380lb ft.

So, in raw power the Focus ST m330 puts out more horses than a Honda Civic Type R (310bhp), a Mercedes-AMG A35 (296bhp), a BMW M135i (302bhp) and the outgoing Golf R / Audi S3 / or the new Cupra Leon family.

To own a new hot hatch with more power, you’ll need to spend nigh-on £50k on an AMG A45. This Focus is a powerful bit of kit, and a bargain to boot.

Can we just talk torque for a sec?

Ah yes, worth eyeing that mountain of twist in more detail. The standard Focus ST is already a deceptively torquey thing, but upped to 380lb ft, it’s absurd. It’s 25lb ft north of the five-cylinder, 2.5-litre Audi RS3, for goodness sake.

So, this isn’t a boosted nutter-chariot with more turbo lag measured using a calendar?

Far from it. Mountune has done some crazy conversions in the past, and if crazy is your bag, it’ll sell you a Focus RS with 520bhp. But the Focus ST m330 is supposed to feel ‘OEM plus’ – just as it left the factory… but more so. Where there was once a lake of torque, there’s now an ocean. It’s faster, but hasn’t forgotten its everyday runabout roots.

Give me a number.

Half a second. That’s how much more urgently you’ll get from 0-62mph than standard. 5.2 seconds plays 5.7 seconds. Because the ST is front-wheel drive, and depends on a manual shift, it’s still not a three-point-something drag race queen like an RS3. But low fives for FWD and interrupting boost to shift gears is extremely impressive.

Not that we do nought-to-sixty on the road much…

Nope, you do 30-60 quitting a village, or 50-75 on a motorway sliproad. And this is where the m330 loves to be. Surging. It’s not dramatic. It doesn’t hold its breath then lunge all at once when the 2.3-litre engine’s turbo wakes up. It simply picks up low down and hauls strongly. Frankly, it doesn’t feel like a tuned car. It doesn’t beg you to wring its neck and drain every reserve of its rev band. The m330 is happy just to be left in fourth gear and canter through an overtake.

If you’d lead me up to it blindfolded, I’d have assumed I was in a healthy, but totally standard Focus ST. Which, if you were sold by the ‘OEM+’ billing means ‘job done’.

What about the noise?

Mountune says its pack has uncorked a few more fireworks from the exhausts, and sure enough, the cracks on the overrun are more anti-social than before and will upset the anti-hunting alliance in the countryside no end. But again, it’s not night-and-day, Jekyll-and-Hyde angry. Your neighbours won’t let your tyres down in the middle of the night. An A35 AMG has fruitier pipes.

All sounds very undramatic…

Which suits this fourth-gen Focus ST down to the ground, really. I’ve just lived with one for eight months and 8,000 miles and it didn’t annoy me once. Some say that’s its problem – that a Hyundai i30N or RS Megane shine brighter, because they’re bigger characters. Meanwhile, the ST has gone after the Golf GTI’s market. Lots of kit, lots of comfort, and impeccable manners. Clearly, Mountune has developed the m330 to complement that character, not contravene it.

And it almost got away with it…

Almost?

While the ST’s unburstable engine feels like it could handle even more power, putting just shy of 400lb ft through the front tyres has re-introduced the unsuspecting ST driver to his or her ol’ nemesis: torque-steer.

The old ST was a torque-steer fiend. Take a hand off the wheel to change gear and it’d automatically aim you at a ditch. Momentarily adjust the air-con and you’d wake up in a tree. The latest, grown-up ST deploys an electronic limited slip front diff to successfully pacify that nonsense.

Or, it did. Find a cambered road in the m330 and the wheel once again tries to squirm free of your white-knuckled grasp like an anaconda at a petting zoo. There’s still an unruly streak to this most complete of fast Fords and Mountune’s unlocked it. So, if that sounds like hard work, you won’t want the m330 kit. But if you’re a Blue Oval die-hard who bemoans the new ST’s uber-German manners, this’ll be right up your street. Bring on the forearm cramps.

What’s the damage?

£600, which is not much money for a load more power, though you don’t get much in the way of physical trinketry to show off. It’s all done through an ECU retune, available through Mountune’s app. The only under-bonnet mod needed is a high-flow air filter. The spokier wheels and stripe seen here are optional extras. Phew.

The fuel bills shouldn’t be too scary either. The m330 we tried averaged 29mpg over a couple of hours of cross-country driving – bang on what Top Gear’s utterly standard long-termer used to drink. With all that torque, it’ll be a magnificent motorway schlepper - the standard car is already great at long trips.

Because getting the work done voids Ford’s warranty, Mountune sticks on a 12-month safety net of its own. Best to enjoy the standard car for a little while before adding this and going A45-baiting, then.

Verdict: 7/10

What do you think?

This service is provided by Disqus and is subject to their privacy policy and terms of use. Please read Top Gear’s code of conduct (link below) before posting.

Promoted content