The ST’s image has mellowed, but Andrew Weller’s tuned Focus ST Mk2 beats the modern world.

Feature from Fast Ford magazine. Words: Ben Birch. Photos: Jason Dodd.

When Jeremy Clarkson first drove a bright orange Focus ST Mk2 on the telly, he coined its infamous nickname ‘the Ford ASBO’, which inspired thousands of boy-racers to go out and buy one.

Loud, brash and seriously fast, these no-nonsense hatches have had their share of street races and dubious mods over the past 17 years. But we’re now starting to see them, and their owners, mature and become almost – dare we say it – sensible.

Driving shot of tuned Focus ST Mk2

Andrew Weller is one such owner. Having smashed his way through a ton of French hot hatches in his youth, one day he found himself driving a Focus ST170 and, just like that, a love of Fords, and more specifically fast Focuses, was born.

Andrew explains, “The ST170 handled well, it was refined and it looked great without being too over the top. I sold it to a friend so I could finance a BMW, but regretted the decision immediately.”

The Focus bug had bitten hard, and a chance meeting with his bank gave him the opportunity to get back into the driver’s seat of a Blue Oval.

Zunsport grille on tuned Focus ST Mk2

He says, “They casually mentioned that I could have a loan if I wanted one. They didn’t have to tell me twice, and before I knew it I had the cash in my pocket for car shopping.”

Nothing other than a Focus would do, but this time Andrew didn’t have his eyes set on an ST170; he wanted to scratch the ASBO itch. In steps his tuned Focus ST Mk2.

Andrew says, “I’d always liked the ST225 Focus ST, especially in Electric Orange. Even as standard they have a real presence, and from the first time I put my foot down on the test drive, I was hooked.”

tuned 5-cylinder engine in Mk2 Focus ST

The jump from a naturally-aspirated 170bhp four-pot to a turbocharged 225bhp five-cylinder with waves of torque was quite a shock. Andrew was more than happy driving it completely standard, at least for a while.

He explains, “I’d joined the ST Owners’ Club, and later on the Electric Orange ST Owners’ Club. You start reading about and becoming a bit obsessed by other owners’ experiences and results from modifying.”

A cheeky Stage 1 map opened the door to two years of gradual modifying, and the result is a rather grown-up exercise in subtlety.

Air intake in Mk2 Focus

“Well, it’s as subtle as a bright orange Focus can be,” Andrew laughs. “But I didn’t want to go too mad with it. My whole concept was to build something that could have come out of the factory that way.”

This OEM-plus approach was applied to every part of the car, including the engine because, although we’ve seen bonkers power outputs from the muscular powerplant, Andrew’s target was a sensible 300bhp.

He says, “Retaining the standard engine and turbo may prevent me from making big power, but the car has also been totally reliable, and more than quick enough to get me into trouble.”

Exhaust tips on Mk2 Focus ST

A block mod is as complicated as the tech spec gets, with the rest made up of strictly bolt-on parts, all topped off with a Stage 3 Nemesis map by Hypertune.

Andrew says, “I’ve had Bluefin, Dreamscience and now the Hypertune, and the Hypertune is the most aggressive. It made 321bhp on the dyno, which is getting close to the limits of the standard turbo, so I’ll keep it there and just enjoy driving it.”

At these power levels the standard transmission and brakes are relatively unstressed, with no need for expensive clutches or big brake kits. Andrew has lowered the car with a set of Cobra springs, but far from being slammed into the weeds and scraping over speed-bumps it retains a useable ride height and doesn’t rattle your fillings out.

The chunky Mk2 arches hunker over Bola B1 alloy wheels without any hints of rubbing or catching; being 8x18in with a factory 225/40 tyre size they bolt straight on and just work.

Andrew shrugs, “I now see a lot of Focuses with these wheels, but they just look right on the Focus, so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

He coloured them bronze to make the wheels stand out a bit more and added some exterior styling parts to subtly accentuate the car’s lines rather than completely change the ST225 silhouette.

Bola wheels on Focus ST

“Maybe when I was 17 I’d have gone a bit more Max Power-style, but not at my age. Also, these cars are one of the last to have strong, boxy lines before all manufacturers started doing curvy jelly styling, and I wanted to retain that look,” explains Andrew.

We couldn’t agree more; a front splitter, rear diffuser and RS spoiler amp up the aggression without being too shouty, and Zunsport grilles clean up the front end nicely.

And that’s it – no bonnet scoops, no vents and certainly no big wings sticking out. The only other exterior mod is a Mondeo bonnet latch, fitted after Andrew fell foul of the common Mk2 Focus bonnet latch not opening – only it happened while desperately trying to stop a fire after the oil breather sprayed oil onto the hot exhaust manifold.

Piston holding bonnet open on tuned Focus ST Mk2

Andrew says, “Luckily, a fire was avoided, but I swapped to the Mondeo latch immediately.”

Inside, the standard seats are more than good enough for all but the hardcore track-day nuts among us, while a boost gauge and short-shift are the only hints to the extra performance passengers can expect.

An upgraded stereo helps on those longer drives out to car shows, but again Andrew’s stopped there with no sign of a cage or harnesses or auxiliary gauges lighting up like Heathrow at night.

Indeed, the whole package can be summed up as a tastefully enhanced fast-road car. The noise, torque and rolling performance are enough to rouse anyone on a spirited drive, and Andrew has now stopped using it daily, instead enjoying it at summer shows – partly due to the thirsty fuel consumption and partly because he hates cleaning it.

Audi boot build in tuned Focus ST Mk2

He says, “I just can’t be bothered. And nice ones are becoming rarer; they may not reach classic status like the RS, but I think orange STs will get a bit of a cult following in time.”

The ASBO may have had a bad rep, but when sensibly enhanced like this tuned Focus ST Mk2, they’re a seriously fun hatch to be proud of.

Rear shot of tuned Focus ST Mk2

Tech Spec: Tuned Focus ST Mk2

Engine :

2522cc Duratec turbocharged five-cylinder, original KKK-Warner turbo, Focus RS spark plugs, 440cc injectors, Airtec crossover pipe, Auto Specialists inlet plenum, Turbosmart actuator and recirc valve, RamAir ProRam induction kit, block mod, Stage 4 intercooler with big boost pipe, uprated hoses, Milltek de-cat and Ultimate turbo-back exhaust, Stage 3 Nemesis map, custom RS ECU holder, all engine bay plastics carbon-dipped


321bhp (owner’s estimate)


Original M66 six-speed gearbox, Focus RS clutch and flywheel upgrade


Original Focus ST gas-filled dampers with Cobra lowering springs, front strut brace


Front: original Focus ST callipers with 320mm EBC discs and EBC Yellowstuff pads; rear: original Focus ST callipers with 280mm EBC discs and EBC Yellowstuff pads

Wheels & Tyres:

8.5x18in Bola B1 alloys in bronze, with 225/40R18 Pirelli P-Zero tyres


Facelift Mk2 Focus ST in Electric Orange, RS Parts front splitter and lowline kit, colour-coded RS rear spoiler, Maxton Designs rear diffuser, Zunsport upper and lower front grilles, Mondeo bonnet latch, Halo lights, sequence indicators


Focus ST-2, air vent-mounted boost gauge, short-shifter, three 12in subwoofers, Focal door speakers, 6x6in speakers in custom parcel shelf, two small Bass Face amps, one large Bass Face amp, Pioneer head unit