I’ll start with a confession; I’ve got a real soft-spot for the Mk7 Fiesta 1.0-litre, especially the ZS and latterly ST-line versions. The fact that they came from the factory with sporty looks similar to the ST, the same fantastic chassis and handling as its bigger brother, and more power than any standard RS Turbo left the production line with, yet still return unbeatable fuel economy, cheap insurance, and affordable running costs made for a winning combination in my book. So much so that I actually bought one – under the premise of it being for my wife, but in reality, it’s because I’d always liked the Red Editions.
Regular readers may remember that very car was treated to a selection of performance upgrades, including Revo’s revered software; starting with Stage 1 before eventually going for the full-fat Stage 2. You can read our thoughts on that car (in both states of tune) here…
But things move on. And as the Mk8 ST has proven to take the already-excellent base of the Mk7 Fiesta and make it even better, I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel of SCC Performance’s 1.0-litre Mk8 demonstrator. As you’d expect from one of the biggest names in the Ford, and in particular, Fiesta, tuning circles, SCC’s own car comes with a few well-placed upgrades fitted; lowering springs reduce the stock car’s loft stance to offer both handling and aesthetic improvements, a Milltek cat-back gives a throaty roar, and Triple-R splitters all round give the visuals a subtle aggressive boost. But the most important change from the OE car is the addition of Revo’s latest Stage 1 software for the Mk8. Revo’s Paul Clements explains that since the arrival of the Mk8 Fiesta, emissions legislations has changed which has meant Revo have actually had to develop three different software options for the different versions: “when the Mk8 1.0-litre first appeared it was a carry-over from the Mk7, which meant with a few minor tweaks our existing software for the Mk7 could also be carried over the new Mk8 too. Then, later models came with a revised ECU in order to meet stricter Euro6 emissions, so we had to redevelop the software to work with the new system. Then, the latest models come with a GPF (gasoline particulate filter) and adhere to newer Euro6.2 emissions regulations, so we had to redevelop the software to suit yet again.”
And that’s the one I’ve been testing here. This car is a later GPF-equipped model, and Revo expect this latest version of their Stage 1 software to be fully releases and available to buy in early 2020. As Paul points out, the main difference between these cars and the earlier versions is the addition of the GPF, but as a first stage software-only upgrade, all of the original hardware is retained. The only recommended upgrade is to swap out the paper air filter for one of their performance foam panel filter.
On paper, the new Stage 1 software serves up similar numbers to the previous versions in earlier Mk8s and Mk7s; Revo quoting circa 150-165bhp and 155-175lb.ft depending on fuel quality used. But as both Revo and SCC Performance are keen to point out, their tuning ethos is solely on how the car feels to drive, not what numbers it pulls on the dyno. So, what does it feel like on the road then…?
Well, as you’d expect it’s a damn sight more lively than the stock versions! It has much more get-up-and-go about it, and now feels like it’s always been intended to be a genuinely sporty model, and not the slightly asthmatic model wearing the same trainers as the ST that perhaps the standard 1.0-litres could be accused of. Obviously, it’s never really going to compete toe-to-toe with ‘proper’ performance versions in the hot-hatch market, but there’s a distinct sub-category of ‘warm hatches’ these days, and here the 1.0-litre Fiesta can really hold it’s on. In fact, it’s not far off the performance levels of a standard Mk8 ST – and we all know how well that’s been received by all who have driven it!
The power delivery is just as smooth too – it just relentlessly keeps pulling right through until it eventually runs out of puff at about 6500rpm. But change up a cog, and that wad of torque starts the whole process off again, encouraging you to keep your foot planted right up until he braking point for the next corner!
For me, that’s why I find the 1.0-litre even more entertaining to drive on a daily basis than the more ‘sporty’ models. Yes, cars like the ST will be faster in the right conditions, but you’d need an empty road free of traffic and other hazards to fully exploit the performance potential. But, with the 1.0 you can drive it aggressively everywhere. In an ST, or RS, or other ‘hot hatch’, unless you’re on a track day, you will realistically only use full throttle for a few seconds at best before you have to lift off again. But with the 1.0-litre, you get the chance to plant your foot to the floor for much longer, much more often. And, for me, that’s what makes the 1.0-litre such a fun little thing to drive – it just loves to be thrown around and abused. Forget the A-roads and motorways, with this you’ll be deliberating taking as many B-roads and back lanes as you can find!
Now I know some of you will thinking ‘Pffft, 165bhp. So what?’, and I’m not naïve enough to suggest leaving your Mustang or RS in the garage and taking the 1.0 Fiesta for a spirited drive on an early Sunday morning (although, in reality, you wouldn’t be as disappointed as you might think!), but for livening up the morning commute while retaining sensible practicality of a daily driver, it’s hard to beat. With some great finance deals on offer at the moment, you can buy a brand new ST-Line for little over £200-per-month, and then add a few sensible upgrades like the Revo Stage 1 software for £350, and you’ve got something that ticks both the ‘sensible’ and ‘fun’ boxes at the same time.
Or, for a young driver just starting their fast Ford journey, the Mk8 ST-Line with Revo Stage 1 is just perfect. With 165bhp and relentless wave of torque – not to mention the fantastic styling, handling, and even braking (which aren’t bad, but could do with a bit of a helping hand if you regular drive it hard… which with the Stage 1 software fitted, you will!) of the Mk8 Fiesta – youngsters this day and age will never know the pain of owning a 50bhp 1.1-litre HCS-engine’d Mk3 Fiesta with Sikalfex’d-on XR2 body kit and 4in big-bore tailpipe that the 17 year-olds had as their first car when I was growing up!
And it doesn’t stop there. If history tells us anything, I’m pretty sure that Revo and SCC will already be working towards a Stage 2 upgrade for the Mk8 too. I think some more testing with the new GPF will be required to see how that responds to further tuning, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m back behind the wheel of this car sporting Stage 2 mods and circa 180bhp before very long…