Well, the new Mk8 Fiesta ST has only been with us a few months and already this issue we’ve got our first drive of a tuned version. I’ve been lucky enough to drive the standard Mk8 ST, and like everyone else I have to say I thought it was a fantastic car. The looks, like all recent Fiestas, are funky and fresh and sure to be a hit with fans (they look incredible with a couple of simple bolt-on upgrades like splitters and side skirts). Inside, Ford have continued to up their game and the interior has a real quality feel (unlike flimsy Fords of the 90s) and combines that with the latest tech. On the handling front, the Mk8 takes over where the Mk7 left off. That is to say it’s taught, precise, positive, and huge amounts of fun.
But what about the engine. Well, despite losing a cylinder and 100cc capacity, the Mk8’s 1.5-litre EcoBoost does a good job of producing the same numbers we’re used to from the Mk7. Only, it feels more torquey – possibly because the three-cylinder doesn’t like to rev quite as freely as the old 1.6-litre EcoBoost, but probably more to do with the fact the Mk8 does actually produce more torque as standard; 214lb.ft which is the same as the Mk7 ST200.
Either way, in terms of performance there’s really not that much in it despite the smaller capacity and being a cylinder down, if anything the rumbles and crackles from the Mk8’s exhaust coupled with that extra torque make it feel faster in the real world.
So, we’re off to a good start, and that’s even before tuners like Collins Performance get their hands (and rather clever brains) on things. With such a strong base to start with I’m expecting good things as I slide myself into the driver’s seat of Collins’ Mk8 ST demo car.
Why? Because this car isn’t standard. Instead, it boasts their latest CP1 software upgrade. Designed to work with an otherwise totally-factory car, the CP1 software is CP’s first stage in the pursuit of power from the Mk8. There’s no need for hardware upgrades such as exhausts, air filters, or intercoolers, so the costs are kept affordable; just £250 if you have the software installed at CP’s HQ in Congleton, of £300 if you want to install it yourself one of CP’s iFlash systems.
I was expecting good things from the CP1, and I’m pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed. When you fire up the car all seems as you’d expect; no loud boomy exhaust barking back at you, no induction kit hissing and whooshing as it gulps in huge volumes of air. Nope, it all feels very civilised and refined, and you’d never tell any difference between the tuned CP1 car and the factory original.
Until you head out onto the open road that is. While the user-friendly characteristics of the original car remain when you’re pottering around town in traffic and alike (which is a good thing, why would you want to buy a new car and then make it horrible to drive!?), when you find yourself on an empty stretch of B-road the CP1 really comes alive and wants to play! There’s a really marked sense of urgency compared to the factory-spec car; it’s like someone’s turned on Sport Mode in Sport Mode. Everything is turned up a notch; throttle response seem sharper, the power delivery feels more lively, and there is definitely more power urging you on.
According to Collins the peak bhp is up 15-20bhp compared to the stock ST, but that really only tells half the story as the difference you really feel behind the wheel is the extra 50lb.ft of torque the CP1 serves up. It’s the newfound 270lb.ft that gives the car that extra energy to keep pulling forward, and I can quite believe CP’s performance figures when they say the 30-70mph time has been cut by over half a second (5.5s for the standard car, 4.9s for the CP1). It’s this extra grunt that makes the CP1 ST such a hoot to drive; it’s a real-world car that offers real-word fun!
Yet, while offering all this extra fun and performance there appears to be absolutely no negative side effects at all. The car is still quiet and comfortable to drive, the power delivery is smooth, linear, and consistent with that of the OE car, and it’s just as happy pottering around town and doing the school run as it is on the B-road blast and doing an impression of a rally car on the back lanes. In fact, to anyone who hasn’t driven the factory Mk8 ST you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is how the car left the factory. Indeed, perhaps this is how the latest fast Fiesta should have been at launch, as it certainly makes the OE car feel a little tame and blunt in comparison.
And, with Collins already looking at Stage 2 (CP2) upgrades, there will be even more reason to tune the Mk8 ST in the weeks and months ahead. If the CP1 software is anything to go by, I can’t wait to come back and have another go!
£249.99 (installed at CP)
£299.99 (supplied with iFlash for self-installation)