Building on a Mk2 Focus project that he just couldn’t finish, Jason Smith is moving onwards and upwards with a modified Ford Focus ST Mk3.

Feature from Fast Ford magazine. Words: Simon Holmes. Photos: Ade Brannan.

Many of us know that even the best-laid plans can go off the rails. Sometimes it’s a simple matter of time and money, but often it’s just personal circumstances.

If you’re lucky the chance can come around to revisit a particular plan and make it right. Jason Smith knows that well, as he’s the owner of this modified ford Focus ST Mk3 (check out our buyer’s guide) that’s hiding a forged engine, meaning it’s currently putting out 300bhp without breaking a sweat. And that’s quite the contrast to the unfinished plan for his last Focus, as he explains.

Front 3/4 shot of Modified Ford Focus ST Mk3 outside

Jason says, “I previously owned a Mk2 ST many years ago and my goal with it at the time was to reach the magic 300bhp mark. That doesn’t seem like a lot these days, but back then it was. Unfortunately, I had to sell the car before I could get it to that level.”

The reason for the sale was a familiar one for many, as Jason needed a bigger car due to a growing family, and as he had the four-seater ST-3 model with two sculptured rear seats rather than the traditional three-seater bench, it simply had to make way for something bigger.

A Kia SUV followed, which made sense as Jason works for the brand, but he still secretly had a soft spot for the Blue Oval.

Side-profile photo of Modifed ford Focus ST Mk3 outside

“I did my apprenticeship at Ford so I’ve always liked them, and after a few years I had the chance to buy a Mk3 Focus ST,” says Jason.

He located this particular example on Autotrader and it caught his eye as it was well-priced and also happened to have the Mountune MP275 kit installed, together with lowering springs and a cat-back exhaust system. These were a major plus, which was why it caught Jason’s eye, as he intended to modify the car and the parts would save a good few quid on its first mods.

Jason explains, “It also helped that it was a very clean example. I’d always liked the Ford Focus ST Mk3 but I’d never driven one before. It was good, but my first impression was that it lacked the noise of the Mk2’s five-cylinder.”

Stock interior of Modified Ford Focus ST MK3

With the memory of his last ST still clear in his head, Jason wanted more and began modifying the car, starting with some exterior tweaks. The 19in Rotiform alloys helped add to the serious but subtle overall look he was aiming for, which were complimented by the splitter, side-skirt and diffuser additions.

“I wanted a clean yet aggressive build, as the front of the Mk3 is a bit too rounded and needs that slight aggression,” says Jason.

“The Delta Styling kit is my favourite part of the car, as it really ties in the wheels to help pull off the look I was going for.”

As the name suggests, the Mountune MP275 kit fitted to Jason’s modified Ford Focus ST Mk3 provided a healthy jump in power to around 275bhp from the factory 250, thanks to an uprated intercooler, induction kit and remap making for a much more entertaining drive.

So, with the key building blocks already in place, next came a boost in power with a simple Stage 2 remap to ramp things up to around 300bhp. But it wasn’t that simple; after having the car mapped, it suffered with boosting issues that Jason tried chasing down, and ultimately led to disaster.

Jason explains, “The Stage 2 map really changed the way it drove, but after a while it kept dropping off boost, so I removed the symposer, replaced the recirc valve and changed the actuator. I then took it down the road and it finally hit boost…

“But then I heard a popping noise and looked in the mirror and saw a load of smoke.”

Being a professional mechanic, Jason stripped the engine down and confirmed his worst suspicions: a ring land had broken off one of the pistons. But with little spare time to repair it and needing the car back quickly, he had to take it elsewhere, and thankfully Ford specialist PumaBuild came to the rescue and rebuilt the car in just two weeks.

Having hit the target 300bhp on his modified Ford Focus ST Mk3 – although briefly – Jason had always intended to build the engine with forged pistons and steel rods to then push for more power in the future, and so the rebuild reflected that. PumaBuild fitted Manley Performance pistons, Bridgeway steel rods and uprated King bearings, to ensure the much stronger build would be future-proof, for if and when further modifications would follow.

Jason says, “It was always the long-term plan to forge the engine but I was forced into doing it early. It was bad timing in that it happened just six months after buying the car, but it does mean it will go big-turbo when the funds allow.”

On the inside the modified Ford Focus ST Mk3 is currently as Ford intended, and being an ST-2 that means the comfy part-leather Recaros, but Jason tells us there are plans to upgrade the seats. The only other addition is out of sight, and that’s the meth injection kit mounted in the boot with the controller tucked neatly away.

Wheels on Modified Ford Focus ST Mk3

Despite the modifications, the Focus is still put to use as Jason’s everyday car, which means it covers all bases, from being economical to fun.

“The modified Ford Focus ST Mk3 is my daily and I do 50-odd miles a day in it. My Mk2 ST used to average 18mpg but the Mk3 delivers 29mpg, and I can live with that,” says Jason. “It’s used as the family car too, so it’s nice and relaxing to drive on the road, but it’s also really fun and responsive when you want it to be.”

There are still plenty more plans in the pipeline for the modified Ford Focus ST Mk3, and since the photoshoot the ST’s now sitting on a set of coilovers in place of the lowering springs, and Jason’s far from finished with the build.

He says, “I’d like an LSD next to help get the power to the ground in the lower gears.”

With that 300bhp box firmly ticked, Jason has met the goal he set out to achieve. But he’s not stopping there, and we’ve got a feeling there’s plenty more to come from this fast Focus in the future.

Tuned Focus ST Images

Tech Spec: Modified Ford Focus ST Mk3


1999cc EcoBoost, Manley Performance forged pistons, Bridgeway steel rods, King bearings, balance shaft delete, Mountune intake and crossover pipe, Mountune intercooler, GFB dump valve and recirc valve, Turbosmart wastegate actuator, iridium spark plugs, AEM water methanol injection, Pumaspeed throttle body spacer, wide -mouth cold-air feed, Scorpion Exhausts 3in turbo-back with decat


300bhp (owner’s estimate)


Focus ST Getrag/Durashift MMT6 six-speed manual, factory-spec clutch


Eibach -30mm lowering springs


Original Focus ST specification

Wheels & Tyres:

19×8.5in Rotiform KB1s in black, ET42 offset, 5×108 PCD, with 235/35/19 Nankang tyres


Focus ST body, bumpers and spoilers, Delta Styling full lowline kit consisting of front splitter, side-skirt extensions and rear lip spoiler


Factory ST-2 specification