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FORD FIESTA ST MK6 BUYING AND TUNING GUIDE

Posted by Glenn Rowswell on 10th November 2021

With prices starting from as little as £750, the perky Ford Fiesta ST Mk6 is a bargain hot hatch with cheap modifications. We take a look at what you need to look out for when buying and modifying one, sponsored by Adrian Flux.

Guide from Fast Ford.

Spiritual successor to the much-missed XR2, the Ford Fiesta ST Mk6 was the first fast Fiesta of the century, arriving in winter 2004.

The fiery new Fiesta was TeamRS’s primary production car, packing 148bhp (150PS, thus the ST150 nickname) from a two-litre Duratec powerplant, which had been tuned with a variable intake and free-flowing exhaust. The result was a load of naturally-aspirated grunt, along with 129mph top end and 0-to-60mph acceleration in 7.9 seconds.

An uprated gearbox with lightened flywheel and quickshift enhanced flexibility, while lowered springs, stiffer dampers and sharper steering meant big grins on the back roads. The brakes were beefed-up, with rear discs and ST170 front callipers. Even a Mountune performance package was an official Ford option.

Best of all, the Ford Fiesta ST Mk6 looked fantastic. A set of multi-spoke 17in alloys was added beneath a funky new bodykit of bumpers, side skirts and roof spoiler. A choice of fashionable colours was boosted by the option of GT40-type decals along the sides and over the top.

Inside, the ST150 had half-leather trim (full leather was optional), a sporty steering wheel and shiny bits. It worked a treat.

November 2005 brought a mild facelift, adding soft-feel dashboard and goggle-eyed headlights. Summer 2008 saw the ST500 arrive: painted Panther Black with silver stripes, black rims and carbon fibre-pattern trim, just 500 UK-only editions were built.

Superb to drive and available for pocket money, even a top-notch example won’t break the bank. And, thanks to huge tuneability, it’s Fast Ford’s pick at this price.

Ford Fiesta ST Mk6 – what to look out for

The ST150’s two-litre Duratec is a fabulous engine, although it’s prone to burning oil, and a litre every 1000 miles isn’t unusual. Valve stem seals or piston rings may be to blame, but if it’s been allowed to run low or dry, big and expensive problems lay ahead.

Look for blue smoke from the exhaust, and listen for nasty noises: avoid anything with knocking from the bottom end, but don’t worry about tapping from the top, which will probably be caused by inherently noisy fuel injectors.

Gearboxes are notoriously unable to handle abuse, so beware of modified machines and careless owners; when they go bang, it tends to be without warning, but whining and notchiness when warm are danger signs. Growling suggests a strained differential, although wheel bearings also tend to wear and rumble.

Rust isn’t as bad as earlier Fiestas, but you’ll still need to inspect the wheelarches (front and rear), door bottoms, front footwells and sills. Loads of ST150s have been hammered, so look carefully for signs of accident damage.

But which ST150 is the best buy? Most people prefer the post-November 2005 facelift, which added useful standard kit including a trip computer. It’s also worth seeking out options such as heated leather seats, Technology Pack or Styling Pack. Performance Blue paintwork sometimes fetches more cash, and the Panther Black ST500 (with silver stripes, black alloys and full leather) adds an obvious premium.

Owning a Ford Fiesta ST Mk6

Although generally reliable, ST150s experience a few niggles.

Early models, plus some post-facelift cars, have starting problems, needing a few turns of the key to get going, and juddering immediately afterwards. The fix is a Ford software update via the ECU, and most will be rectified by now.

All can feel jerky from cold, and a poor idle is common; cleaning the throttle body sometimes effects a cure. The power steering (PAS) system can cause trouble, with clonking hoses and the pump overheating after enthusiastic use. If the clutch pedal starts to feel floppy, it’s probably just a loose washer.

Rusty brake pipes are found on almost every Mk6 Ford Fiesta ST, so keep an eye out for corrosion. Crucially, check its engine oil regularly, or you’ll risk a rebuild.

Don’t be surprised if a Fiesta’s interior starts to rattle or look shabby before too long – it’s not the most hard-wearing of cockpits. The folding seat catches are particularly prone to failure because of loose cables or crappy connections underneath, and the half-leather upholstery tends to sag.

Power-folding mirror motors are known to get confused, alarms can be erratic (needing a replacement module), heated windscreens stop working and alternators may fail at low mileages. Just normal Ford faults, really…

Modifying one

The Ford Fiesta ST Mk6 is crying out for performance upgrades, and you can be as mild or as wild as you like. Conventional N/A tuning comprises induction kit, exhaust system, cams, inlet and a remap, and see just shy of 200bhp. Throttle bodies will take you into the 200s, but a more popular option is forced induction; bolt-on supercharger kits give 300bhp, while bespoke turbo conversions will take you nearer to 500bhp – no wonder they’re popular.

The IB5 ‘box is tough for most things (perhaps not a full-blown big-turbo upgrade), but the stock differential will let you down much sooner. Add an ATB-type diff for a fit-and-forget solution.

The stock brakes will need help too; decent pads (like Ferodo DS2500 or EBC Yellowstuff), braided lines and good fluid give an ideal road upgrade that’s adequate for tracks too, but the bigger 300mm discs from a Focus ST170 work with Mk3 Mondeo callipers for a cheap big-brake upgrade. Again, add decent pads, lines, and fluid for track use.

Handling is great straight out of the box, if a little high. For a road car, fit a Bilstein B12 kit, comprising monotube dampers and matched springs, while for track use coilovers are ideal. Add poly bushes for further stiffness, and increasing the rear track with spacers (12.5mm or 20mm) is a popular, cheap and worthwhile upgrade for an improved stance.

Ford Fiesta ST Mk6 insurance quote

Car: Ford Fiesta ST Mk6

Value: £4000

Driver and info: 28-year-old male, with a full NCB, living in the TN14 post code, with a clean license. The car is parked on the drive each night and has light modifications including wheels, suspension, exhaust and air filter.

Quote: £325 including insurance premium tax / £300 excess / Comprehensive cover

Adrian Flux says…

“The Mk6 Fiesta ST is one of the best hot hatches of modern times, but so are Renault’s Clio 172 and 182 and that’s our suggestion if the Ford isn’t quite ticking all the boxes. Tidy 172s are becoming increasingly rare, so we’d opt for the newer, more powerful and higher spec’d 182.”

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