Ford's brilliant new Fiesta only has one problem – the lack of an ST model. Actually the real problem is that there isn’t one coming – Ford canned it to concentrate on green cars like the Fiesta Econetic. I’m sure Ford has done its sums but given how many of the old-shape STs you see charging around Britain’s towns, it seems an odd, and certainly disappointing, decision.
But worry not, because now Mountune offers a Ford-approved tuning kit to turn the mild-but-fun Zetec S into an 18-year-old’s wet dream, complete with a drainpipe exhaust and other subtle tweaks. It’s a great car, but don’t leave home without your earplugs.
What’s this Mountune nonsense? Where’s the new ST?
Quick recap on Ford's range structure: there’s the warm Zetec S, whose 118bhp naturally aspirated makes it far more fun than the 9.9sec 0-62mph figure would have you believe. Or you can step up to the Mountune performance pack fitted here, which adds 20bhp and pushes maximum torque from 112lb ft to 125lb ft.
Mountune is a tuning company that has been producing engine kits for cars like the Fiesta and Focus on behalf of Ford itself. By offering them as post-registration kits, Ford avoids having to type approve them which helps keep the cost down.
Although they don’t have to go through the full Ford durability testing programme, they are still tested extensively, including at the Nurburgring. In fact they’ve been tested sufficiently for them not to invalidate the standard car’s three-year warranty. Sighs of relief all round.
Where does the extra power come from?
The Mountune pack offered on the last of the old STs was proper traditional tuning fayre – and included a lumpier cam to push power to 185bhp. Sadly the new kit, which you can have fitted to a Zetec S or the mechanically identical Fiesta Titanium, is less exotic.
There’s a more efficient intake system, tubular exhaust manifold, free-flow exhaust system and catalyst and a revised ECU to suit. You don’t get a hotter cam because there’s no need: this engine has variable valve timing and those characteristics can be tweaked by changing the ECU’s programming. Oh, and there’s a little yellow Mountune badge for the bootlid to let everyone know you're pedalling the souped-up model.
>> Click 'Next' below to read more of our Ford Fiesta Zetec-S Mountune first drive
So how near does this Mountune pack get to the full red-blooded ST experience?
In terms of numbers it's pretty close to the last ST. That had 148bhp from 2.0 litres, the Mountune has 138bhp from a 400cc smaller engine. Both have five-speed gearboxes and weigh just over 1100kg despite the newer car being significantly bigger. And both sprint to 62mph in 7.9sec.
You have to work harder to make the Mountune perform, owing to its lower torque output, and certainly much harder than you would in a Corsa SRi, 500 or Grande Punto Abarth or Colt Ralliart, all of which cost about the same £14,500 or less but have torquey turbocharged engines.
So while on paper the Mountune matches these cars, subjectively it feels slower, lacking that immediate kick in the back. But if a turbodiesel-like power delivery isn’t your thing and you get gratification form wringing an engine’s neck, you’ll enjoy sending the ST’s rev needle deep into the tacho’s conservatively marked red section.
Although the performance increase over the standard Zetec S didn’t feel quite as spectacular as the 2sec 0-62mph improvement suggests, it’s certainly more fun. With one exception: maybe we’re just getting old but the boy racer exhaust note was embarrassing and gave me a headache. I’d rather have more induction noise and less exhaust parp. Sometimes having to conform to drive-by regulations (which the Mountune doesn’t) can be a good thing.
And everything else is stock Fiesta?
There are no suspension changes, so you get the same stiffish ride and good body control, great front end grip and steering that’s got far more bite to it than the non Zetec S Fiesta’s, but still is as satisfying in its ability to communicate as the old car’s. The driving position is certainly far better than the old Fiesta’s, in terms of comfort, if not visibility. And there’s more room for passengers and luggage.
In the absence of an ST, the Mountune kit does a good job of making an already fun but slightly malnourished warm Fiesta more fun to drive, if you can live with the din. At £1299 plus fitting (say £1600 all-in, depending on your dealer’s labour charge) it’s not that expensive either but it does push the Fiesta into slightly uncomfortable territory.
The £13k Zetec S isn’t particularly cheap anyway but at close to £15k the Mountune is massively undercut by various more powerful rivals and sits uncomfortably close to Renault’s excellent Clio 197. We like the Fiesta, but not that much.
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