The Fiesta ST180 tuning arms race may have been raging since the model was introduced back in 2013, and with the arrival of the Mk8-shape successor now dominating the mainstream media you may be forgiven for thinking that tuners would down tools on the Mk7 and focus on the new model instead. But not Collins Performance – they’re doing both. While the Mk8 ST is getting all the attention you’d expect a new release to command (indeed, I tested their CP1 upgrade in the April 2019 issue), the guys at CP still believe there’s plenty of potential left in the Mk7 version yet, and they’re prepared to put in the R&D to exploit every last drop of performance they can.
But don’t think the latest CP5 Performance Package is just an exercise in chasing the biggest numbers for the dyno. It isn’t. That’s not the CP way. Instead, the CP5 has been extensively developed over the last year or so to serve up the maximum performance possible, without incurring any adverse side effects or reliability issues. Impressively, the CP5 package is still a proper ‘bolt-on’ upgrade in the truest sense of the word; all the supporting hardware upgrades are direct bolt-on replacements for the OE parts, and even the Turbo Technics S280 turbo (which features larger compressor and turbine housings and wheels) is a direct replacement for the original unit. The sheer lunacy of the 340bhp-plus it offers (CP have seen anything between 340-350bhp on the dyno depending on conditions) is just a happy by-product of a well-engineered upgrade. And it’s a by-product I’m only too keen to sample for myself as I head out into the Cheshire countryside in this ballistic Fiesta.
The first thing I notice, though, is that there’s no obvious trade-off for having all that power and performance available under your right foot. This isn’t a drag car with all of its power limited to a small power band (that you’ll seldom ever use) at the very top of the rev range. Nor is it a track car that’s all-but-unbearable in slow town traffic or anything other that flat-out on a circuit. Nope, what we have here is still a very comfortable, very practical, and very useable road car. The test car I drove even retained the OE springs and dampers, and factory brakes too (although, if I had the CP5 fitted to my own car, that’s something I’d look to improve pretty sharpish, but we’ll come on to that in a second), which meant as I trundled through the town centre, past schools and housing estates, the CP5 ST was more than happy to pootle along rather nicely. The road manners are of an OE quality, and aside from the deeper bark from the Mongoose exhaust you’d not know anything was out of the norm.
But get out of the built-up areas and on to some fast, sweeping A- and B-roads and you can start to let the CP5 stretch its legs a little. And then, boy does it come alive! Plant your right foot and your head and neck are hurled back against the seat, the nose lifts slightly, the rear squats, and the ST is off on a mission to headbutt the horizon. It just takes off. In the blink of an eye you’re grabbing for another gear; a barrage of pops and bangs rifle out from the exhaust, and then the vicious assault on the senses starts all over again… only this time more intense and at higher speeds.
On the more challenging B-roads it is, if anything, even more fun. The speeds involved might be slower, but the way it gathers pace so rapidly means the sheer thrills and excitement are even greater. I don’t get out of third gear, but I’m having the time of my life!
The Mk7 ST chassis is fantastic as it is, but personally I can’t help but feel a couple of supporting tweaks to the brakes and suspension would really optimise the performance of the CP5 power upgrade. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a huge amount of fun regardless, but with some stiffer suspension (not too hard though), slightly sharper brakes, and maybe an ATB diff, this would be a serious driver’s car.
But it wears its OE suspension with pride, this car. That’s because CP want to showcase the user-friendless of the package; it’s not an upgrade that needs to be tamed by upgrades and improvements elsewhere. And that’s largely thanks to the way CP have designed and developed the power delivery to be as smooth as possible. Unlike other 300bhp-plus STs I’ve driven where there is a noticeable kick in the backside at certain points in the rev range, the CP5 is smooth and consistent throughout the entire sweep. It’s hair-raising, but at the same time predictable and feels manageable. It doesn’t light the front tyres up, or try to spit you off the road and into the nearest hedge, instead it just gathers everything up in a controlled fashion and sprints off up the road with you still in full control.
The outright cost for the CP5 package is a reasonable £4099, but of course if you’ve already fitted some of the performance parts like the Airtec Stage 3 intercooler, ITG induction kit, or Mongoose turbo-back exhaust as part of a previous tuning package, then the cost is significantly cheaper. And offering customer the best value possible is something CP are constantly looking to do; the original CP5 package included an incredibly expensive Bosch Motorsport high-pressure fuel pump to supply the increased fuel flow, adding around £1500 to the cost of the upgrade. But after working on various solutions, the package is now able to retain the OE fuel pump and deliver arguably better results by swapping the injectors for higher-flowing items, saving around £1200 on the cost of the upgrade at the same time. It’s a similar story with the internals too; rather than blindly stating the conversions needs uprated rods and pistons, CP pulled apart their own demo car after it had been running the development package for about a year to fully assess the condition of the internals. And with no signs for concern, the CP5 is offered as a true bolt-on upgrade without costly internal components unnecessarily hiking up the price.
While the tuning world seems to have moved on to the new Mk8 ST, it’s refreshing to know that companies like Collins are still pushing the boundaries and still eking out ever more impressive results from its predecessor. And it doesn’t stop with this CP5 package… we’ve just heard that work’s already started on a CP6 package too. Blimey, these guys can’t get enough, can they?
CP5 Performance Package comprising: Turbo Technics S280 larger turbo upgrade; Mongoose full turbo-back exhaust system inc. sports cat; Airtec Stage 3 intercooler upgrade; ITG induction kit; CP5 software
£4099 (FULLY FITTED)