New Ford Focus ST Mountune m365 2021 review
Has Mountune managed to extract just the right amount of performance from the Ford Focus ST with the new m365?
Starting with a base of the already accomplished standard Focus ST, Mountune adds an extra 84bhp that turns every burst of full throttle acceleration into a white knuckle ride. Yet when you’re not in the mood, it settles down to behave with similar manners to Ford’s showroom model. All of this comes at a reasonable price too - the engine upgrades adding just over £1,800 to the cost of a new Focus ST. It’s lairy, thrilling and just a little bit silly - and it’s all the better for it.
At the risk of sounding like an old curmudgeon, too many of the latest crop of hot hatchbacks are too easy to drive. Roughly 35 grand or so gets you a four-wheel drive 300bhp-plus five-door that’ll keep up with all but the quickest supercars in a straight line, and just about anything on a B-road.
There’s a risk, however, when a car is so capable, that covering ground at speed might leave you feeling cold; like you haven't achieved much. It might even feel like you’ve reached your limits of talent long before the car has; like the car is doing all the work for you and showing contempt for your efforts.
If you’ve ever felt like this, you might sometimes yearn for the time when hot hatches were more edgy, frisky and exciting. As it turns out, there’s a very special Ford Focus ST that fits the bill perfectly. It’s called the m365, and it’s the work of Ford tuning specialists Mountune.
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Essex-based Mountune has been working its magic over various Ford models for a long time, generally taking an already accomplished bunch of hot hatchbacks and gradually turning up the wick to often borderline silly levels. Within Ford’s current lineup, Mountune tuning packages are available for the Fiesta ST and Puma ST, but this Focus ST setup is its most potent yet.
The headline figure is 360bhp - a significant 84bhp up on the standard Focus ST. It’s a number that lifts the Fast Ford not only beyond the old Focus RS, but to within striking distance of the hyper hatches of Mercedes-AMG and Audi.
Mourtune has eked out 30 percent more power from the ST’s 2.3-litre turbocharged motor through a series of breathing tweaks. There’s a three-inch exhaust system running from the manifold to the back box, a free-flowing intake system and a remap to make the most of both. In addition to that power boost, torque is also up to 560Nm - 140Nm more than the already muscular figure of the standard car.
From a chassis point of view, Mountune’s demonstrator has only had minimal changes. Lowering springs drop the ride height by 25mm, the standard brake pads have been replaced with higher performance items, and the m365 rides on a gorgeous set of OZ Racing 19-inch wheels.
So how does that make the ST feel on the road? Like a hooligan, in short. Hard bursts of acceleration will leave the ESP flashing in a panic in order to keep that power in check. Disable that safety net - or switch to Race mode, which leaves only you and your talent forming the fine line between excitement and terror - and the m365 will light up its tyres in second and third gear. In the dry. On anything but a perfectly level bit of straight road, the steering wheel tugs your hands from side to side as it tries to deploy all of that considerable shove.
Admittedly, the test car was fitted with Firestone tyres which aren’t quite the peak of performance rubber, but it seems Mountune has pushed the limits of what the Focus ST’s front axle - and road-going front-wheel drive cars in general - can currently handle.
The throttle is sharp, giving the impression that this Mountune creation is always desperate to show you just what it’s got in reserve. That, and the vast power and torque figures, means it takes a deft right foot to get the most out of it on the road. It’s not simply a case of hoofing the throttle out of a corner only to rely on four-wheel drive traction - there’s plenty of subtly needed. Apply the throttle smoothly, wait for the electronic limited slip differential to hook up, and squeeze it towards the floor from there, allowing the full 360bhp to catapult you along the next straight.
The 0-62mph time will barely be any quicker than that of the standard car, given that the traction is overwhelmed by the tuning package. But once on the move, there are few stock hot hatches out there that will keep up. Given that it’s a package that is only available with the manual ST currently, it always feels a little more frantic than many of those twin-clutch automatic-equipped alternatives. Fortunately the gearbox’s shifts are positive, aided by a quick shift kit that shortens the standard six-speed throw.
And then there’s the exhaust. Backing off the gas sharply induces an artillery fire of bangs from the twin tailpipes. It might be a little obnoxious for some, but it seems to be a great match for the car’s whole “take it or leave it'' character.
Switch down from Sport or Track modes and into Normal, however, and the m365 becomes much more relaxed. Yes, there’s still the prospect of all that straight line shove, but for the most part it’s no less refined than the standard ST. A crisp (but never boomy) tone blows from the exhaust tips, the crackles disappear, and on a motorway cruise the noise is barely any more audtible than the factory spec Focus.
Given the car’s near-ludicrous character out on the road, external appearances are fairly subtle. Mountune has applied some extra badges, a small extension to the rear spoiler, mudflaps and graphics along the sides - otherwise there’s little to separate it from the regular Focus ST. The same goes inside - only some branded door mats and a Mountune gear knob feature in an otherwise standard cabin.
The cost of those engine upgrades really doesn’t seem that steep. While each of the individual elements can be bought separately, the combined total of the engine upgrades package comes to £1,838.50 - not bad considering just how quick the Focus becomes. It is worth considering before you take the plunge, however, that Ford’s standard warranty will not cover any of Mountune’s upgrades. However, each of the parts come with 12 months and 12,000 miles of cover.
Will the Ford Focus ST m365 cover ground as quickly as a Golf R? For 99 percent of drivers, probably not. But for those small few who can get the best out of it, they’ll be having so much more fun.
Ford Focus ST m365
£30,255 plus £1,839 for upgrade kit
2.3 4cyl petrol turbo
Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
5.5 seconds (est)
|Top speed:||155+ mph|