The mechanical upgrades on our ‘Save the ST170’ project draw to a close, concluding with a suspension upgrade using the always-impressive Bilstein B12 kit. If you’ve read previous updates, you’ll know we’re on a mission to demonstrate the true capabilities of the Ford Focus ST170. By teaming up with Machine Mart, we’re showing that any enthusiastic home mechanic can achieve impressive results with a selection of quality tools and equipment at affordable prices.

In this update, we’re finishing off our suspension overhaul with the highly revered Bilstein B12 kit.

Why choose Bilstein?

There’s a very good answer, Bilstein make some of the best suspension upgrades in the market. And having fitted the B12 kit to several project cars in the past, it was always our first choice for our ST170.

For our Ford Focus ST170 project, we didn’t want to fit race-style coilovers. We’re not building a track car, and didn’t want to compromise the ST170’s comfortable ride on the street for performance gains we’d only see on the silky smooth surface of a race track. Instead, we wanted to work with what Ford’s talented SVE engineers gave us when they developed the ST170’s wonderfully playful and fantastic handling.

The B12 kit offers perfect damping rates for fast road use, balancing performance and comfort. Combining the B12 damper from Bilstein with lowering springs from Eibach, provides a very high standard suspension upgrade. Meeting the important TUV quality standard test is a true hallmark of supreme quality. With this suspension upgrade, we aimed to maintain the car’s agility and responsive handling while enhancing its overall drivability on everyday roads. The Bilstein B12 kit’s reputation for striking that delicate balance made it a natural choice for our project, ensuring that our ST170 remains a joy to drive in various conditions.

Focus ST170 Suspension Upgrades Complete

Fitting the new Bilstein dampers and Eibach lowering springs was easy. Granted, most of the suspension components had recently been removed from the car when we fitted the poly bushes, but the B12 kit is a direct replacement for the original suspension.

At the rear end, we hadn’t even bothered to refit the old springs after the recent overhaul of the suspension components. So, when it came time to install to the B12 kit we simply dropped the rear springs in place, fitted the new dampers, and tightened all the bolts. At the same time, we fitted the new high-performance EBC brake discs and Yellowstuff brake pads to complete the braking upgrades too.

And what a difference! It looks so much nicer now!

Finishing touches

The only thing that was letting the side down was the dirty rear brake callipers. And the front callipers that we messed up when trying to impatiently spray them before completing the caliper service. But let’s not mention that.

Besides, that gave us the perfect opportunity to try out the racing trolley jack and axle stands we had ordered from Machine Mart. Mark – our chief spanner supervisor from Ford Parts R Us – fell in love with the jack. As a man who works with lowered cars and sporty old Fords every day, he appreciated the low-slung 85mm saddle height, and the lightweight aluminium construction that makes it so easy to move around the workshop.

With the car safely support on the axle stands, the wheels were removed and we patiently spent an afternoon painting the calipers to good old fashioned way with a brush. It was actually a nice job to do, and the results are impressive.

Wheel Alignment

After such a comprehensive reworking of our Focus ST170 suspension, before we could head out on the open road in anger, we first needed to make sure the wheels were all pointing in the right direction. Literally. A four-wheel laser wheel alignment session at a local tyre fitter saw the suspension settings fettled until the geometry was perfect. This meticulous process ensures that every component functions harmoniously, optimizing performance and balance. Fine-tuning the suspension settings guarantees precise handling, allowing us to make full use of those handling upgrades we’ve made.

What does it drive like?

To be honest, we’ve not been able to fully put it to the test yet. Plus, we’re still bedding in the brakes. Initial feedback is brilliant. the car feels so much sharper and more responsive to steering inputs. It inspires confidence when pressing on, but is still compliant and remains comfortable and civilised when cruising at town speeds. It seems to be doing exactly as we’d expected but there’s only one real way of finding out, and that’s to get out there and drive it.

So, to do just that we’ve got a local event at Cast Combe planned for the coming days. Providing that goes well, we’re off on a exciting road trip to Mallory Park in Leicestershire to scope at the new venue for Ford Fest in September. That little 250-mile round trip will give us a real insight to how we’ve transformed the handling characteristics of our Focus ST170.

Next Time

Join us next time as we give our Focus ST170 a good wash and polish, and head off to Mallory Park on an epic road test.

Missed an Update?

Check out previous instalments of our Save the ST170 project!