It’s over 18 months since Ford officially nuked any prospect of a new Focus RS, and yet the absence of a successor to the previous-gen all-wheel drive hooligan still stings. This will, after all, be the first time a Focus generation won’t get the RS treatment, and since there won’t be a Fiesta RS either, it seems like that famed performance badge is now consigned to the motoring history books.
Not long after Ford confirmed the distressing news, we had a go in Mountune’s 324bhp Focus M330 to see if it made up for the absentee RS. And for the most part, it did, but since then, the Essex-based lover or Blue Oval tuning has upped the ante further with the M365.
This increases the power from the ST’s 2.3-litre inline-four to 360bhp (365hp, hence the pack’s name) up from the 306bhp stock figure, and even more impressively, the torque by 90lb ft to 400lb ft. That’s more than a Ferrari 458 Italia.
So, an ST with this makeover has comfortably more power than the old RS, and a far punchier torque figure. The key to producing this? A mobile phone app and a Bluetooth OBDII widget, which costs a very reasonable £689, or if you have the existing M330 pack, just £99 to upgrade.
It’s more expensive if you want to do things ‘properly’, however, with Mountune recommending a new downpipe with a freer-flowing sport catalytic converter (£575) a ‘sport GPF’ particulate filter pipe (£525) and a panel air filter (£49.50) to get the full output consistently.
The 324bhp version already felt quick, but with the full 360bhp unlocked (both tunes are available in the app, along with a stock setting), the Focus ST feels enormously fast. It pulls strongly from about 2,500rpm, properly coming alive just before 4,000.
While it gets away with feeling like an official Ford effort in the lower power setting, that’s not the case when the 2.3 is belting out 360bhp. It takes on a more old-school turbo engine feel, with a boosty nature and some reasonably big helpings of lag. In a way, that’s half the appeal.
It’s impressive just how well the ST’s electronically-controlled locking differential copes with all the extra internally combusted violence. The 2.3’s brawn is effectively transferred to the tarmac with much less fuss than I was expecting, and with only a little torque steer. This does seem to be nearing the edge of what the ST’s front end can cope with, though, and the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s will be helping traction significantly. On the factory-fitted PS4 S boots, you might be in for a more unruly time.
The set of Cup 2s isn’t the only extra modification fitted to Mountune’s demo car. It also has some black stripes down the side (natch), mudguards, a quick-shifter and lowering springs. The latter drop the ride height by 25mm at the front, and 20mm at the rear.
The stickers, mudguards and ride height drop certainly make the ST look the part, but I’m not sure fiddling with the suspension is hugely necessary. As standard it’s already a stiff car that’s generally better when the adaptive dampers are left in their slacker setting, so taking away some of the travel merely makes for a less comfortable experience at lower speeds.
The suspension’s pretty noisy too, much as we experienced with the Focus ST Edition a few weeks back. The ride does settle when you’re going quicker, at least, and the noise does die down.
Our biggest misgiving about the standard ST, the weirdly spring, over-assisted steering, remains present in this spicier take on the hot hatch. But as we found with the M330, more power - and even more in this case - acts as a suitable distraction.
As we feel compelled to point out in all of these Mountune reviews, it’s important to note that the arrangement with Ford that saw previous upgrades from the tuner officially recognised and made warranty-friendly has long since ended. And so, the M365 isn’t a complete ‘no-brainer’. But if we wanted to liven up an ST of our own, it’d be the first thing we’d look at.