Unsure if Ford will ever build a Mk7 Fiesta RS or not, Pumaspeed have taken it upon themselves to build their own tuned and modified Mk7 Ford Fiesta – this ultra-aggressive, seriously-specced, 360bhp version…
We’re going to go out on a limb here and say that, with a few exceptions, Ford of Europe’s hot hatch CV is free from blemishes. Cars like the XR2i, Fiesta RS Turbo and Zetec S were all lauded for their entertaining (if slightly raw) driving traits and all have gone on to build and cement deeply loyal, massively passionate fan bases. We’ll go one better and say that Ford can lay claim to being among the best builders of hot hatches anywhere in the world.
Why are we telling you all this, almost certainly preaching to the converted in the process? Well it’s precisely because Ford build such a good hot hatch that so many tuning firms cater for them, tuning firms like Pumaspeed. Chances are that you’ll be well aware of these guys and their penchant for ballistic tuned Ford Fiestas and Focuses, but that doesn’t mean they’ve run out of tricks. Indeed, the boffins at Pumaspeed have had one hell of a year, continually pushing the boundaries of what’s possible from the EcoBoost range of engines. You may have seen their mighty 1.0-litre Fiesta with its impressive 200bhp-plus recently appear across these pages, but now the Yorkshire-based tuners have turned their attention to it’s bigger brother, the 1.6-litre EcoBoost power plant!
“This all started in the spring of 2014, back when we needed a new Stage 3 demo car to replace our red ST,” explains Simon of Pumaspeed. “We actually bought it as a crash damaged 1.2, then set about converting it into an ST using the parts we had in our workshop.”
Now that sentence may well make dyed in the wool ST purists roll their eyes and mutter to themselves about heritage and originality, but it’s important in terms of how the car evolved and how it looks right now. With no heritage of its own, the team at Pumaspeed were free to take the car in any direction they felt, free from any constraints that might’ve blighted a ‘genuine’ Fiesta ST. The result? One of the meanest Fiestas around, and a car that sets the bar very, very high for Ford themselves. Put simply, if the bosses at Ford HQ do decide to bite the bullet and build a Fiesta RS, they’re going to have to work damn hard to make sure it can beat this thing.
“We’d converted it to full ST spec already and only opted to go down the RS route when a local firm began to offer high quality replica RS kits,” enthuses Simon. “We knew that it’d make the car stand out and that it would draw attention to the tuning package as a whole.”
The front-end styling treatment of the latest RS was fairly divisive at launch, with some voicing their distaste for the various swoops and creases that dominate proceedings. That’s up to personal taste of course, but one thing that you can’t deny is that it, and by extension Pumaspeed’s Fiesta, oozes latent aggression. This is the automotive equivalent of a school bully then, the slightly unhinged one that pinches lunch money not because he needs it, but because he enjoys doing it! It’s bold, brash and demands attention, all of which might be a problem if it couldn’t back up those looks with raw muscle, but it can and it will.
“The only real issue with the exterior was getting hold of the latest RS’s paint code, something we were unable to do – but not for want of trying! In the end we went into a local Jag dealer and found the code for this paint, French Racing Blue, the same shade used on XKR-S. It isn’t the official RS colour, but it certainly works.”
It won’t surprise you to learn that the factory-fitted 1.2 was removed and put out to pasture many months ago, and in its place you’ll now find a heavily tuned version of the ST’s 1596cc screamer. This engine has been through various incarnations over the last year and a bit, going straight from stock to 295bhp thanks to Pumaspeed’s Stage 3 package. It could well have stayed like that had Dan McQuire (one of the team and the man responsible for much of this particular Fiesta) not opted to see how far he could push it. Stage 3 rapidly gave way to a far more experimental Stage 4, one that saw the need for forged Omega pistons and custom Piper cams, a Garrett GTX2867R turbo and a custom manifold with a screamer pipe. Clearly these are serious modifications and ensure that the package isn’t as cheap as the more common hybrid options, but you can’t argue with the results.
“It’s now running at a safe 360bhp, though that’s with a relatively conservative map,” Simon explains. “Driving it is very fun and involving, it’s brutally powerful once it comes on boost between 5000 and 6000rpm and sounds very loud.”
There are many things this Fiesta does well then, but subtly isn’t one of them. At times it sounds more like a Group A rally car than a modern, road-going Fiesta, but then that’s undoubtedly part of its charm. It can also handle all that power with an almost unnerving degree of composure, thanks in no small part to the totally overhauled suspension and brake setups.
Gone are the factory springs and dampers, replaced with BC Racing coilovers and Eibach anti-roll bars front and rear, plus polyurethane bushes to tighten up the front end. The front hubs now boast AP Racing discs and calipers, while the rears have been rebuilt and fitted with uprated pads. These carefully considered changes combine to leave a thoroughly capable, perfectly balanced little car, one that really can exploit all of its power in most environments and conditions.
So there we have it, proof that despite modern Ford hatches being among the best in class and brilliant in their own right, there’s still scope for improvement. In building this Fiesta Pumaspeed have thrown down the gauntlet to Ford themselves, they’ve drawn a line in the sand and now it’s up to the boffins at HQ (and probably the accountants with their hands firmly on the purse strings) to come up with something better for their own RS Fiesta. Whether that comes to fruition or not we’ll have to wait and see, but in the mean time we’ve got Pumaspeed’s take on the Fiesta RS – an all singing, all dancing monster that proves just how amazing a modern, modified Ford hot hatch can be.
OWNER: DAN MCQUIRE
TECH SPEC: MK7 FORD FIESTA
Rebuilt 1596cc DOHC 16v with forged Omega pistons, CNC race ported head and custom profile Stage 2 Piper cams, ITG induction kit, Pumaspeed Quickspool manifold with screamer pipe and external wastegate, Garrett GTX2867R turbo kit, R-Sport GTX crossover pipe and ‘hot side’ hard pipe kit, custom ‘cold side’ pipe, R-Sport Stage 4 Garrett core intercooler, custom turbo-back exhaust system, 5th and 6th injector fuel system, MAXD Custom Calibration, Omex 600 ECU
Devils Own water/methanol injection kit, 360bhp approx.
Pumaspeed paddle clutch, 3J limited-slip differential, TTV race flywheel.
BC Racing coilovers and Eibach ARBs all round, Poweflex polyurethane front bushes, Breedt lower torque mount, AP Racing 330mm brake kit (front), rebuilt stock setup with uprated pads (rear), 7x17in Compomotive MO6 alloys with Nankang NS2R semi-slick tyres.
Resprayed in Jaguar French Racing Blue, Maxton RS style bodykit featuring front bumper, rear spoiler and rear diffuser.
Words Jarkle Photos Chris Wallbank