One could be forgiven for lamenting the loss of the true people’s performance car. Why wouldn’t you, if the newly-released, £50,000, four-wheel-drive, 415 hp Mercedes-AMG A45 S is what passes for a ‘hot hatch’ in 2019?
Thankfully, cars like the superb Ford Fiesta ST serve to remind us that bucketloads of fun is still available in small and inexpensive packages.
It’s a car that is a class-leader straight out of the box. But if you want a lower, meaner and more aggressive Fiesta ST, and you haven’t managed to secure a bright orange ‘Ford Performance Edition’, well, the only way is Essex.
Specifically, Hutton, near Brentwood, home to famed performance Ford wizards Mountune. For four decades, Mountune has been making magic with high-performance Fords. Today, it helps retain Essex’s reputation as the home, heart and soul of the fastest Fast Fords.
Now, say hello to its latest creation, the Ford Fiesta ST M225.
What makes the Mountune version of the new Fiesta ST stand out? Even at a glance, plenty. If you know your cars, you’ll know this is no ordinary Fiesta ST.
The prototype wing extension and livery on this car deliver added theatre, without overdoing it. Step inside, and the quick shifter with a bespoke knob and Mountune-branded mats tease the potential of this hopped-up hot hatch.
In terms of real upgrades, this M225 packs 225 horsepower, achieved via an engine remap and a new induction kit. That’s a healthy rise over the standard car’s 200 hp output. Lowering springs provide added stiffness, upgraded brakes help to bring that extra muscle under control, and the new shifter improves gearshift weighting.
What does it all add up to? Well, apart from a £2,866 bill, our test drive revealed a Fiesta ST with a newfound layer of aggression.
On first impressions, maybe too much of it. The suspension changes are immediately evident and, in the real world, not entirely welcome. On a track, we’re sure it would feel sweet, but British back roads aren’t blessed with the smoothness of Silverstone’s Hangar Straight.
Happily, we’re told the suspension package is still undergoing some refinements. And, on the positive side, the extra turn-in bite it lends the Fez is enjoyable. Don’t dial that out please, Mountune. Just tune out some of the harshness, if you can.
The upgraded engine, we’re happy to report, is a peach. The M225 map and induction package gives it a welcome dose of extra muscle and vocals that the standard ST wasn’t exactly short on.
Mountune’s engineers told us that their goal with these packages is an ‘OEM-plus’ feel. That’s to say, the sort of car a factory engineer with too much time on their hands might pump out, given some donated unpaid hours in the development lab.
As you’re working the thrumming three-pot with the new slick shifter, it feels naughty and mischievous. There’s a real skunkworks vibe to this ST on performance-enhancers. We found it quickly became addictive.
Happily, when the Essex back roads bleed into sleepy villages, the new brakes bring the ST under control. They’re a well-calibrated and worthwhile upgrade over standard items, both in terms of stopping power and feel.
That near-three grand bill isn’t a blanket cost either, Mountune is keen to stress – you needn’t worry about too severe a disruption to your ability to make those finance payments. Instead, you can plump for what you want out of the menu of upgrades our car came with.
If it were us, we’d grab the 225 upgrade (including induction and map) the shifter and maybe the Mountune stripe. All of that’s just over £1,000, but it’s another £1,175 if you want those cracking brakes too.
The standard car’s suspension works so well on UK roads, corrupting it doesn’t feel entirely necessary. If you’re in the market for the all-essential ‘lows’, though, the finished suspension should ride more smoothly. We can’t wait to test the final package: it could be icing on the cake.
Verdict: Ford Fiesta ST Mountune M225
Overall, Mountune has succeeded in furhter enhancing a lot of what makes the Fiesta ST such an essential grassroots hot hatch. But then, was a company this flush with fast Ford heritage ever going to botch it? Hardly.
It’s a hot hatch kind of day. We’re spoiled with the brilliant affordable performance cars available these days, and the mods available for them. pic.twitter.com/kaUkPjLrF3
— Ethan Jupp (@EthanIsSaying) August 8, 2019
Facts: Ford Fiesta ST Mountune M225
M225 power package cost: £795.50
Cost of upgrades to our car: £2,866
Engine: 1.5 3-cylinder EcoBoost
Power: 225 hp
Torque: 250 lb ft
0-62 mph: 5.9 seconds
Top speed: 144 mph+