I love these little 1.0 Fiestas. The Mk7 Fiesta is a cracking car in all flavours, and while it’s the range-topping ST that tends to steal all the limelight (understandably, given the phenomenal power and performance that can be coaxed from its 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine and the fantastic chassis straight from Ford), perhaps the most impressive model in the entire range is the humble 1.0-litre EcoBoost. Once seen as the laughing stock of the car world, small capacity engines are now all the rage – helped largely by the advent of modern technology such as direct injection, and of course the fabled turbocharger.
And it’s these modern updates that not only make the 1.0-litre EcoBoost a fun little car from the factory (with either 100, 125, or 140PS as standard) but also make it a tuner’s dream too. While the same basic 1.0-litre engine is also offered in the larger Focus and even Mondeo models, where it really comes into its own is in the Mk7 (and latterly Mk8) Fiestas. I’ve driven a fair few of them – including owning a Red Edition of my own for a few years – and it never ceases to amaze me how much fun they are, especially tuned versions. So, while I was at Collins Performance HQ last month to take out their recently-released CP5 version of the Mk7 ST (see last issue for full review), CP’s Operations Manager, Gary Lendon, said ‘Why don’t you take our CP3 1.0 out for a spin too?’ as he tossed me the keys to the modded example sat out front. Now, how could I refuse? So, this issue that’s the car we’ve got a review on.
This particular car belongs to Gary’s fiancé, Michaela Stenson, and although it’s not officially a ‘CP test car’ it does boast to the full CP3 Performance Pack; comprising Mongoose cat-back exhaust, Airtec twin-pass intercooler, Auto Specialists induction kit, and of course the CP3 software too. That adds up to a healthy 165bhp (167bhp on CP’s dyno on this particular car), and because Michaela has put her own twist on things this Fiesta has also been beefed up with Team Dynamic alloys, Eibach lowering springs, and 10mm spacers, as well as a raft of cosmetic and styling tweaks too.
But that’s enough about the spec, what’s it actually like to drive…?
Awesome! It’s just so much fun… all of the time. It’s far faster and way more torquey than it has any right to be! A little three-cylinder 999cc engine shouldn’t be able to do the things this can!
The CP3 power upgrade is sublime, pulling smoothly and cleanly throughout the rev range, making for an addictive surge when you stamp on the throttle pedal. You can really tell that a lot of effort has gone into to testing and developing the package as a whole, making sure the hardware upgrades interact with one another and the software seamlessly for the optimum results. It’s a cliché saying that it feels like a ‘factory’ upgrade, but it really does.
On this particular car, the lowering springs and wheels spacers mean you can really exploit that extra performance too. The Mk7 has a fantastic chassis anyway, but these simple suspension tweaks really work hand-in-hand with the CP3 pack, allowing you to really chuck the car about.
What I really love about this car, though, is the fact it’s just so enjoyable all the time. Unlike ‘big power’ cars where you’re lucky to get the occasional squirt on the throttle before you have to back-off again, you can drive the CP3 much harder. You get to floor it much more often, and can hold it there for longer too. So, while you might not be doing the same speeds as a gazillion-bhp monster would, it’s arguably more fun because it makes you feel like you are!
As is evident from my stupid big grin in the photos, I really love these cars, and the CP3 version is a great way to exploit the maximum potential from one. It’s all bolt-on stuff, meaning cost for the complete conversion is affordable (just £1449 fully fitted at CP’s HQ), it still drives like an OE car, and still returns incredible fuel economy if you drive it sensibly (not that you will when it’s this much fun!). But most importantly, it’s one of the most fun cars you’ll ever drive!
If you’re a young driver, the Fiesta 1.0-litre is definitely the car to have. And when it can be made this good with such a simple yet devastatingly effective upgrade as the CP3 kit, it really should even make you think twice before you go and buy that second-hand Mk7 ST…
CP3 Performance Pack, comprising Mongoose cat-back exhaust, Airtec Stage 3 twin-pass intercooler, Auto Specialists induction kit, and CP3 software; Eibach lowering springs, 10mm wheel spacers, Team Dynamic alloys, custom graphics and styling upgrades.