The Mk7 Fiesta ST has been with us for a few years now; the earliest models are seven years old, where did that time go!? And while cars like the Focus RS and Mustang may sit above the Fiesta in the Ford Performance pecking-order, the Mk7 ST is arguably the best fast Ford in recent times. In fact, it has a very strong case for being one of the very best Blue Ovals of all time.
But, the Mk7 model has been and gone, with Ford now pushing the new Mk8 Fiesta – along with the very capable and mightily impressive new ST version. So, why am I sat here outside mountune’s HQ in Essex looking at fairly understated Mk7 ST then? Well, despite having newer models on their development fleet (including the very latest Mk4 Focus ST and Mk8 Fiesta ST), mountune haven’t quite finished with the previous Mk7 model just yet. As we’ve seen with various offerings from other well-respected tuners in the Ford scene, the little Mk7 Fiesta is an unbelievably tuneable, and indeed mountune did offer their own hybrid-turbo upgrade in the shape of the MR265 package. I drove this car back in the August 2017 issue (you can read it online at www.fastfordmag.co.uk) and I was impressed by its punchy performance. But things don’t stand still in the tuning world, and mountune have continued their development to the point where the old MR265 kit has now been superseded by the new m285 package. As the name suggests, this is mountune’s most powerful offering for the Mk7 ST to date, serving up a very healthy 285PS and 370Nm. The key to these improved figures (and the way it feels to drive) is the new turbocharger at the heart of the upgrade. Rather than a hybrid version of the stock unit, for the m285 mountune have taken one of Garrett’s acclaimed GT2554R turbochargers as a base and developed it to further suit the ST’s 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine and mountune software. The new ‘MRX’ turbo – as mountune are branding their new range of turbo upgrades – features low friction, dual row ball bearings for super-quick spool-up, a custom-engineered 11-blade billet compressor wheel with matching 3in anti-surge compressor housing, and double seals (both compressor and turbine housing) and a water-cooled centre section to ensure it’s durable and reliable enough for thousands of trouble-free miles on both road and track.
Like the older MR265 kit, the m285 builds upon the MR230 package and as such assumes a high-flow sports at and cat-back exhaust, uprated intercooler, and high-flow induction are already in place. And let’s face it, there’s not many ST’s doing the rounds these days without these upgrades already fitted. Building on the MR230 kit, the new m285 kit costs £2,395 fully fitted as a turn-key upgrade at mountune HQ – slightly cheaper than the previous MR265 kit.
But before I set off out into the Essex countryside let me tell you one more thing about this particular car – this is not ‘mountune’s’ car. It’s not one of the development fleet that journalists and reviewers usually drive, this car is actually privately-owned by mountune employee, Jay Sandford. It’s his pride and joy, the car he depends on every day to get him to work and back, this is a ‘real’ car.
Jay’s also added a few extra performance upgrades to compliment the newfound power under the bonnet, including the awesome 302mm 6-pot big brake upgrade, roll restrictor, and short-shifter that mountune also offer. The combination results in an OEM-looking, actually quite understated appearance. I mean, the brakes might hint at added performance, but you’d have to be a keen enthusiast to tell this apart from any other ST you see on the road. Of course the subtle ‘m’ badges do give a little nod to those who are in the know.
But that’s enough of the spec and science behind the upgrades, ‘what’s it actually like to drive?’ I hear you cry. Well, it’s fun! A lot of fun! That new turbo really does deliver what the mountune engineers set out to achieve; it spools up instantly to provide that immediate shove in the back the ST is famous for, but it never relents and just continues to pull as hard throughout the entire rev range. Whereas the standard car, and even the hybrid turbo car to a lesser extent, have that huge immediate kick up the backside, they do tend to softly tail-off as the revs increase. The MRX turbo, however, provides the same level of urgency right up until the point you grab another gear, and then the whole process starts over again. It’s incredibly addictive too.
You only need to look at the dyno graph to understand what I mean; the power, and perhaps more importantly the torque, rises rapidly – from 200Nm to nearly double at 370Nm in a short window of just 1,500 revs. This makes the m285 incredible quick – and incredibly fun – to drive in real-world situations. I’m driving around the leafy Essex countryside, with hump-back bridges, blind bends, and ramblers and dog-walkers to be on the look-out for; that means I’m constantly on and off the throttle, incessantly shifting up and down (this is where the short-shifter really slickens things up nicely), and always using the EcoBoost’s mid-range grunt to get me going again. Out here, a car that makes all of its power at the higher end of the rev range would be utterly useless. But the m285, with its bucket-loads of low-down torque, and relentless pulling power is perfect. Couple that to the ST’s fantastic chassis and handling (even in standard form, as with Jay’s car) and the awesome 6-pot brakes, this ST is a rapid little beast and would give most of the mountune fleet a real run for their money point-to-point. It’s exceptionally punchy.
Of course, my test route did take in some A-roads and dual carriageways too, and allowed to me open the taps on the m285. It’s fast, it’s smooth, and it feels incredibly robust. It didn’t complain at sitting at steady speeds, and it was comfortable and compliant when stuck in urban traffic too. But while the ST can do all of this, I was having much more fun on the quiet B-roads and country lanes, so unapologetically this is where I spent my most of time behind the wheel of the m285.
But, for all its lunacy the m285 never actually feels that scary. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll give you a good poke in the eye if you provoke it, but it never feels like it’s actively trying to harm you. It’s grown up, civilised. Compared to the loudmouth hot hatches out there who wear their Section 59s for ‘popping and banging’ with pride, the m285 is more like a quiet business exec who just happens to also be a prize-winning UFC fighter; it goes about its day-to-day business unflustered and unassuming, but call it a few names and the Gieves & Hawkes gets ripped off to reveal a tattoo-covered bruiser ready to ninja-choke you into submission. This car may look tame from the outside, but believe me it’s a little riot when you wind it up! If you want a fast Fiesta, but don’t necessarily want everyone to know about it, this is the car for you.
In the kit
m285 includes; MRX/Garrett GT2554R turbocharger, stainless v-band conversion, mountune billet wastegate actuator, mountune lower charge pipe, silicone inlet/outlet hoses, m285 software.
Required hardware includes; sports exhaust system with free-flowing sports cat, uprated intercooler, high-flow intake system