For a while now the Ford Fiesta ST has been considered the benchmark hot hatch in the budget arena in Australia. And now you can buy an even hotter version, 2016 Ford Fiesta ST Mountune MP215.
Essentially this version sees the Blue Oval brand offer buyers the opportunity to add a few new parts to the Fiesta ST in order to boost performance. More performance from the Fiesta ST? Yeah!
What is Mountune, then? It’s a UK-based company that specialises in race engines and performance upgrades. And what they’ve done here is very much in the bracket of a performance upgrade. Beware – things are about to get a bit geeky.
The Mountune Performance MP215 pack fitted to the Fiesta ST includes the following bits: a custom aluminium high-flow airbox with dual cold air feeds; a Mountune high-flow panel air filter; a porous lower air feed hose; revised engine calibration; a Mountune Performance badge; and an mTune handset for performance calibration from inside the cabin.
That controller allows you to monitor the performance of the car – including 0-100km/h times and drag race (0-400m) times – and you can also monitor the gauges of the car in real time. The controller’s screen displays the data, and you can anchor it to your windscreen or dash. You can download the data to a computer via USB, too.
What’s it all cost, then? It’s a reasonably cheap upgrade, at $2328 – and it’s covered by Ford’s three-year/100,000km new car warranty. That means you can get some gains with peace of mind, unlike if you were to fit an aftermarket chip or other hardware bits to try and eke out similar performance gains. Existing ST owners can add the kit to their car for the same cost – it's covered by the remainder of the new-car warranty, or a 12 month/20,000km warranty – whichever is greater.
So how much more are we talking? Try 158kW and 320Nm for up to 15 seconds on overboost. That’s a handy increase over the standard car, which has 134kW and 240Nm (or 290Nm on overboost).
It’s worth noting that Ford is offering it because it won’t be selling the factory built ST200 in Australia, which sees similar levels of power but also gets upgrades to its brakes, gearing, suspension, and it gets even quicker steering – which seems almost impossible to imagine.
Why? Because the regular Fiesta ST – as well as being bargain priced from just $25,990 plus on-road costs in regular spec, or, $28,318 before on-roads for the Mountune, er, tuned model, it’s a supreme hot hatch when it comes to handling.
It is simply brilliant in corners. The steering is darty and ultra talkative – you can feel exactly what’s happening at the front end when you’re pushing it in sharp bends. There’s some torque-steer sure, but that’s part of the fun – you feel like you’re wrestling the little blighter through the bends when you’re hard on the throttle.
The chassis balance is brilliant, too. It's playful without being ridiculous, and the way you can shunt it around corners is just so much fun.
The ride is firm – sometimes annoyingly so, like when you’re on a stretch of highway and you can’t see any bumps in the road surface yet you find yourself bobbling in your seat like a ping-pong ball in a cup of fizzy drink – but if you want the rewards in the corners, you will put up with the discomfort around town or on the open road.
You just have to drive it in the twisty stuff, and that’s exactly what you’ll want to do when you drive the Fiesta ST – Mountune model or not.
And we can talk about those aspects of the Fiesta ST without even referencing the Mountune pack, because the suspension, tyres, brakes and steering are all the same as they already were.
But as good as the regular Fiesta ST is, many who had driven it had felt that the car’s chassis was capable of handling more power, and therefore more speed.
And while we couldn’t explore the speed aspect too much on public roads, the boosted power and torque figures make themselves felt when you’re pushing it really hard. That is to say you might not see a big drop in 0-100km/h time between this and a regular ST.
But the elasticity of the way the car revs – which was already excellent – is seemingly even better in the middle gears. Third and fourth cogs are the premium positions, with excellent in-gear acceleration and a willingness to find redline: but just take note that if you are nudging the 6500rpm zone in fourth, you're probably doing well over the signposted limit.
The gearshifts are slinky, with a nice mechanical notchiness as you slot the lever in between the gates, and the clutch is light enough to be city-friendly, but weighty enough to reward in those more spirited moments.
Still, it should be noted that with Australia’s silly speed limit rules you may not get as much enjoyment out of the Fiesta ST Mountune MP215 pack as you might have hoped. Or, put another way, you could save yourself the money, because the regular Fiesta ST is just so damned good that it doesn’t really need this pack to play within the confines that are set on public roads.
On a race track, we’d think you could get a bit more out of the Mountune model. And given that it’s all under warranty, there’s some great peace of mind that comes with it.
But there are still a few other little issues with the Fiesta ST that could make it hard to live with. The seats are slim in the hip area, and if you’re not, you could find that after a few hours driving you may have some issues with leg cramps.
It’s not just the tightness of the seats that causes that, but the height of them. You sit with your legs raised a tad too much, meaning you can’t really relax your left leg on longer trips. And it would be great to sit a few centimetres lower to feel a bit more hunkered down in the car, too.
Speaking of the inside, it’s much the same as the existing ST. In fact, it’s exactly the same, but the small 4.2-inch dashtop screen will be replaced in the updated Fiesta due later in 2016 with a bigger 5.0-inch system that will have navigation and a rear-view camera. It’ll be dearer, at $27,490 plus on-road costs, but those items will be well worth the spend.
It is, then, probably best to wait for that car – we certainly would be. And even then, if you decide to add the Mountune MP215 upgrade pack, you’d be looking at a sub-$30,000 hot-hatch before on-road costs are taken into consideration. And what an absolute bargain that car will be.
On the 2016 model, the Mountune MP215 pack is still an addition worthy of consideration, but one that we’d recommend mainly to those hardcore enthusiasts who plan to get the most out of their Fiesta ST on the race track.
Click on the Photos tab for more Ford Fiesta ST Mountune MP215 images by Sam Venn.