Perhaps better known as one of the world’s leading Mustang tuners, Steeda’s techs have turned their hands to the Mk7 Fiesta ST, and we’ve been driving it…
Words: Jamie / Photos: Jason Dodd
Steeda is a name that any self-respecting Mustang owner will already have on the tip of their tongue when talking about performance tuning, but perhaps not so many Fiesta and Focus owners are familiar with the brand. Not yet, anyway – but we’ve got a feeling that’s all about to change.
Building on its success with the Mustang (a car the company has been tuning since it began the 1980s), Steeda has recently turned its attention to the popular Mk7 Fiesta ST.
Steeda’s Robbie Kazandjian says, “We wanted to build a demo car that showed Steeda doesn’t just tune Mustangs, but through our trusted partners we also offer performance parts for Fiesta ST, and Focus ST and RS models too.”
Over the last couple of years (in between lockdowns) Steeda UK and CP-E, HP Tuners, MAP, Sparco, Michelin, Eibach, Diode Dynamics and 3M films have collaborated to build a demo car that would not only serve to showcase their upgrades, but also act as real-world test-bed that allowed Steeda to evaluate each area of the car’s performance.
This process simply couldn’t be rushed, and certainly wasn’t helped by the recent restrictions relating to the coronavirus. As such, keen readers may even remember the car appearing briefly in our report on Steeda’s Driving Experience at North Weald at the end of last summer, when the Fiesta’s new wrap design was unveiled.
Well, that was the first time we got to drive the car – and is indeed where we photographed the car for this feature. But back then, the guys at Steeda and MAP wanted to make a few more tweaks to the package, so we couldn’t assess the car as the final product.
As it turns out, things developed quite significantly; the car now boasts a CP-E cat-back exhaust system, ram-air intake kits, and performance intercooler upgrade, as well as revised mapping by MAP through the HP Tuners tools. The last time it was on the dyno, prior to installing the performance CP-E intercooler, the car made a very respectable 204bhp at the wheels (circa 240bhp at the flywheel), which Steeda and MAP are confident has since improved with the addition of the intercooler.
And the good news is we got a call from Steeda a few days ago saying that the final package had been signed-off and the car was ready for us to drive. Wasting no time, we soon grabbed the keys and headed off out into the Wiltshire countryside to put the Fiesta through its paces on a mix of fast A-roads, bumpy B-roads and a few quiet, twisty and challenging back roads too.
The first thing that strikes you is the rumble from the exhaust. It’s loud, bassy and purposeful. It doesn’t really sound like any Fiesta ST we’ve driven before – the note is much deeper. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and there were a few instances when following traffic on the A-roads of a bit of drone, but the deeper, more aggressive tone will definitely appeal to many ST owners – especially those who would be looking at exhaust systems with illegal-sounding product names, marketed specifically on the back of their aggressive nature.
Besides, the CP-E Nexus clearly offers less restriction than the stock system; when you get to some clear stretches of road where you can open the throttle, the bark is spot-on.
The biggest difference between the Steeda Fiesta and other STs we’ve driven is the way it delivers its power. Even the stock Fiesta ST has an enormous surge low-down in the rev range, but then power seems to fall away at higher rpms; it’s something of an EcoBoost trait. But what Steeda and MAP have done here is approach the situation completely differently. Rather than building upon the original software and the stock car’s characteristics, it feels as if they started with a clean slate, asked ‘how do we want this car to drive?’ and then tuned it accordingly.
That means you don’t get an initial surge of power that then tails off; instead the Steeda ST is all very smooth and linear, and it just keeps giving, the longer you keep your foot on the throttle. First impressions (after driving various different Fiesta STs) are that it feels very composed, very OEM-plus in nature, and, dare we say, maybe even a little less exciting than some others that give you an immediate shove in the backside. But then you glance down at the speedo and think ‘how the hell am I going that fast?’; it’s quick, and deceptively so.
While it doesn’t have the fanfare of artificial pops and bangs every time you lift off the throttle when cruising at town or even motorway speeds, there are some very pleasing organic crackles when you lift between gearshifts when giving it some on the fast and twisty stuff.
The same goes for the intake system: Steeda purposefully retained the stock blow-off valve so it doesn’t sound like the air brakes of a local double-decker bus every time you change gear. Instead, you get a subtle flutter from the induction system.
The power delivery may not have that familiar kick-up-the-backside initial wave of torque we’re used to from turbo’d cars, but in the real world we have little doubt this ST would actually be faster. It puts the power down effortlessly and without fuss, and then it just keeps on pulling and pulling; it’s so smooth it feels like it shares more in common with a big-capacity naturally-aspirated engine than a traditional EcoBoost.
And given Steeda’s mantra of ‘speed matters’, we can see how the guys came to this conclusion. Everything on this car is working together in perfect harmony – the intake system, the exhaust, the intercooler, and the mapping – and you can feel that from behind the wheel; it’s a solid, cohesive package. Steeda does recommend using the CP-E intake kit (which, on UK cars with the MAF sensor, requires a suitable remap), but owners who have already fitted some of the performance hardware can still benefit from similar results, as each car is tuned accordingly using the HP Tuners suite to ensure optimum performance.
Steeda hasn’t stopped there either, and as well as things like the Diode Dynamics lighting upgrades and custom wrap, the firm is currently working closely with CP-E and MAP to bring us a high-flow downpipe to add to the parts list too.
Looks like there’s a new player in Mk7 Fiesta ST tuning just arrived at the table.
Fiesta ST, 1596cc EcoBoost, CP-E ram-air intake, CP-E intercooler, CP-E Nexus cat-back exhaust, MAP tune using HP Tuners suite, DBA brake discs, Hawk Performance brake pads, Eibach lowering springs, Steeda rear strut brace, Diode Dynamics LEDs and underglow kit, Sparco FF1 7x17in alloys, Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres, Steeda torque mount, custom 3M wrap.
Power 204bhp and 243lb.ft (at the wheels; prior to intercooler fitting)
CP-E intake (fitted) and ECU tune by MAP: £819
CP-E intake: £459
CP-E intercooler: £719
CP-E Nexus cat-back exhaust: £799