From £18,9959
Ford’s Fiesta ST already has cult status as a cut-price performance hero. Can tuner Mountune sweeten the deal?

What is it?

Three wheels or two, it genuinely doesn’t seem to matter. For one of the friendliest but also most addictively feral performance cars from any era and at any price, anything less than the full four contact patches appears to be its preferred mode of attack.

The M235’s gymnastic talent is something we’ll return to but, on paper, tuning stalwart Mountune’s latest take on the Ford Fiesta ST is simply for the person who wants an everyday supermini but craves something hotter in the engine bay.

This £890 aftermarket kit duly delivers, pushing Ford’s 1.5-litre three-cylinder Ecoboost engine to the brink of what it can reliably muster before stronger internals are required at considerable cost. Power rises from 197bhp to 232bhp while torque increases 44lb ft to 258lb ft for a 0-62mph time that sneaks below six seconds and midrange performance that feels, to put it lightly, decidedly grown-up.

The hardware changes are modest, and that’s reflected in the price. Included is an upgraded aluminium airbox, high-flow panel filter and a new lower air-feed hose, which together prepare the ground for an ‘mTune’ smartflash drive to plug into the car’s OBD port and safely lay down Mountune’s engine map. The software can then be switched off (and back on again) via your smartphone, and there’s one very good, exhaust-related reason why you might want to.

That is the basic M235 upgrade. However, as with all of Mountune’s development cars, this particular Fiesta ST exists as a rolling menu of everything an owner on a generous but not bottomless budget might try.

It therefore uses Mountune’s high-flow induction hose (£85) and beautifully finished throttle body elbow (£99). Look through the lower grille and you’ll also see a new prototype intercooler, which maintains performance through a wide range of ambient temperatures and is expected to cost around £350. You may have noticed the car is also sitting closer to the ground than standard – by 20mm, thanks to new springs (also prototypes, so no price) that use similar load settings to the factory items, only with less travel.

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The final mechanical mods consist of Mountune’s billet quick-shift kit, which for £150 shaves one quarter from the travel of the gearshift throw, and a big-brake upgrade with 302mm discs up front, for £1295.

The remainder are cosmetic additions: the decals, rear wing and chunky mud-flaps don’t add any performance but do bring a street-fighter look to match the car’s pace. 

What's it like?

Hit the engine-start button and there’s not much that separates the M235 from the standard ST. The bubbling exhaust note is a fraction deeper, but mainly it’s just nice to find yourself in such a well-sorted cabin. The part-digital dials are clear, the Recaro seats are nicely dished and bolstered, and the squab feeds your shins out towards three well-positioned pedals. The Mk8 Fiesta ST also gets plenty of steering column adjustability, and overall the driving position puts some very serious and expensive machinery to shame.

However, another thing that hasn’t changed is the simmering, agitated ride at town speeds. It’s difficult to say whether Mountune’s springs exacerbate the problem, but they certainly don’t alleviate it. Given M235 customers will sit at the more committed end of the Fiesta ST owner spectrum, I’m not sure how much this matters, but don’t expect anything less than jowl-tugging firmness.

So here’s some advice: get out of town. The regular Fiesta is one of the most exploitable driver’s cars on real roads – another member of this club is the phenomenal Alpine A110 – and Mountune’s kit makes it even more thrilling. The first thing you’ll notice is in-gear performance. Things are more frenetic at the top of the rev range, and this is welcome, but it’s the extra torque that means you can select third gear and take apart long stretches of road, driving into and out of even tight corners in smooth, fast arcs, and generally indulging more in the chassis. Despite the short-shifter, changing gear is still no great joy and the motion feels a bit vague, so sticking to one ratio is no sacrifice.

As for objective speed, realistically you couldn’t (and, frankly, shouldn’t) want for any more. Mountune’s Fiesta is quick, but the engine’s efforts stop just short of giving the limited-slip differential a stroke on rougher roads, and this matters. Sometimes a twitchy front axle can be exciting but most of the time it just detracts from the satisfaction of your flow, and the combination of 258lb ft and Quaife hardware feels like a sweet spot before progress gets hairy. Michelin’s Pilot Sport 4S tyres are also excellent – soft in feel but stable.

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The engine upgrade alone therefore seems well worth the outlay, but another strong trait of this car is its turn-in response. Sitting lower, there’s less slack in the M235’s suspension when you change direction hard. So light (but also so grounded) is the nose that you’ll struggle to unearth meaningful understeer on the road. The rear is evidently also tighter than standard because, as the M235’s nose dives inwards, the tail’s enthusiasm for sliding wide seems greater than ever. For cars that feel so wild on the move but are actually forgiving and tolerant of heavy hands, the M235 is probably in a class of one. It begs to be thrashed but rewards neat and precise inputs, always wants to play and never bites. B-roads are a playground, and the car flatters.

A less palatable element of the kit is the exhaust tuning in Sport and Track modes. Customers asked for off-throttle theatrics and so the M235 gurgles like a drain if you lift off the accelerator from high revs. It’s not especially authentic, and is one reason to turn off Mountune’s map via the app. And talking of off-throttle quirks, this kit unsurprisingly does nothing to lessen the pronounced flywheel effect of the factory Ecoboost engine.

A small gripe, admittedly, but with an otherwise stellar driving experience, a touch frustrating all the same. The supercharged 1.6 in the Toyota Yaris GRMN remains in another league, not least because this Ford triple also still suffers a little from turbo-lag.

Should I buy one?

Nevertheless, there’s just so much to recommend here. The M235 power hike is worth having because it meaningfully improves the driving experience and is also warranted by Mountune. The case for the new springs is less clear-cut but still strong, depending on your outlook.

Lowering the body has given the Fiesta’s front axle 911 GT3 RS levels of tyre-to-wheel-arch snugness, and this looks fantastic. The car’s also simultaneously more agile, deliberate and playful, though you need to be driving 10mph quicker on any given road to get this set-up working at its controlled and supple best. This can be difficult to maintain and, without enough load going through the springs, the car can feel brittle and ragged, so be prepared to commit.

And that’s the thing about the Mountune M235. Three wheels or two, it’s only really for the committed, but what a treat those owners have in store for their very first B-road blast.

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Ford Fiesta ST Mountune M235 specification

Where Essex, UK Price £22,570 (engine upgrade £890) On sale now Engine 3 cyls in line, 1500cc, turbocharged, petrol Power 232bhp at 5550rpm Torque 258lb ft at 3500rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual Kerb weight 1262kg Top speed 150mph (estimated) 0-62mph 6.0sec Fuel economy no WLTP data available CO2 no WLTP data available Rivals BBR Mazda MX-5 1.5, Toyota Yaris GRMN 

Join the debate

Comments
12

29 May 2020

There is no mention here of reliability, fuel consumption, exhaust emissions or insurance costs. Presumably Ford opted for slighly less performance for the sake of the above, but Motune have less responsibility. The question is will the average owner declare this modification to their insurance company and what  affect will this have on the premium?  The obvious temptation will be for buyers to not declare the modification (bearing in mind it can be "switched off" with a phone app. But doing so would void the policy, resulting in the car not being insured.   

29 May 2020
LP in Brighton wrote:

There is no mention here of reliability, fuel consumption, exhaust emissions or insurance costs. Presumably Ford opted for slighly less performance for the sake of the above, but Motune have less responsibility. The question is will the average owner declare this modification to their insurance company and what  affect will this have on the premium?  The obvious temptation will be for buyers to not declare the modification (bearing in mind it can be "switched off" with a phone app. But doing so would void the policy, resulting in the car not being insured.   

If an owner lands up in trouble, because they have invalidated their insurance by failing to declare a change, it is not down to Mountune. That owner has only him or herself to blame, for their own stupidity.

29 May 2020
LP in Brighton wrote:

There is no mention here of reliability, fuel consumption, exhaust emissions or insurance costs. Presumably Ford opted for slighly less performance for the sake of the above, but Motune have less responsibility. The question is will the average owner declare this modification to their insurance company and what  affect will this have on the premium?  The obvious temptation will be for buyers to not declare the modification (bearing in mind it can be "switched off" with a phone app. But doing so would void the policy, resulting in the car not being insured.   

Generally, well executed tunes (Mountune ones are) have no effect on reliability, hence the reason Ford have previously offered these previously without affecting the standard warranty, they can also improve emissions or not change them, and can increase fuel efficiency. 

However any responsible owner should inform their insurance of any modification they make to their vehicle that makes it different from factory spec, it may or may not increase your insurance costs, but it might invalidate any claim or even cover if you dont declare them. 

As an example, I fitted painted rear parking sensors to one of my wifes previous cars, I informed the insurance, and they noted it down, but it didnt cost me anything, a few months later, someone drove into the back of her and damaged the rear bumper, because I had informed the insurance, they claimed from the other party to cover the cost of fitting new parking sensors even though they were not standard. If I had not declared them, I may have had to have them fitted again at my own expense because some insurers will only pay to return a car back to factory spec.  

30 May 2020

The best junior hot hatch by far made even better.  Love the stripe, love the lowered stance, and especially love the Fifteen 52s.  Hot hot HOT!!!

29 May 2020

Seems a no brained to get this. I wonder if you can order it while specking a new car that same as other Montune packs.

29 May 2020
Biter wrote:

Seems a no brained to get this.

Not sure you mean that. But it works 

29 May 2020

Buy, tune, drive and use it up, some 10 thousands miles later remove the tune, sell the car as stock to the unsispecting new owner, let him deal with the hidden problems due to increased and premature wear and tear.

 

29 May 2020
Removing stuff does not get forgotten. When the car next visits the garage for a service, the mechanic will know! It'll be down to the person you sold the car to take action on you or not.

29 May 2020

This is more like it.  Forget about Porsches that cost £150,000 and do 0-60 in less than three seconds - this is a car that a lot more people can actually afford, and will probably put a bigger smile on their face as they drive it.

Also, unlike these ridiculously expensive hypercars, you can actually get four adults in this thing, along with their luggage (squashy bags, obviously!).  Yet again Ford proves to be the king of affordable fun cars.

29 May 2020
martin_66 wrote:

This is more like it.  Forget about Porsches that cost £150,000 and do 0-60 in less than three seconds - this is a car that a lot more people can actually afford, and will probably put a bigger smile on their face as they drive it.

Also, unlike these ridiculously expensive hypercars, you can actually get four adults in this thing, along with their luggage (squashy bags, obviously!).  Yet again Ford proves to be the king of affordable fun cars.

 

put a smile - yes, bigger - no.

You just need the right Porsche, and the right Porsche is not the one that does 0-60 in less then 3 seconds, and it does not cost 150k either.

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