With 220bhp under the bonnet, the big Ford Mondeo ST220 is no slouch, but make the right tuning mods and you will have a motor that truly defines a fast road car.

Tuning guide from Fast Ford magazine. Photos: Fast Ford archives.

The Ford Mondeo ST220 is one of the most underestimated fast Fords ever to exist. For the last 20 years or so, the crowds have been jumping up and down, ranting and raving over the new Focus and Fiesta models, and all the while the humble ’220 has been plodding along quietly in the background doing what it does best – offering an almost unrivalled combination of comfort, practicality and raw power.

Jeremy Clarkson once pointed out in an episode of Top Gear that Aston Martin sold more DB9s in 2005 than Ford did Mondeo ST220s. But that only tells half the story, because the few that Ford did sell all went to proper petrolheads who appreciated the package it offered. In fact, you could go as far as saying all real fast Ford fans have owned a Mondeo ST220 at some point.

Relevant content – Mondeo ST220 buyer’s guide

The rev-happy 3.0-litre Duratec V6 pushes out an impressive 222bhp and 200lb.ft, which makes for an always entertaining drive. The handling is sublime for such a big car and is something other manufacturers still haven’t quite got their heads around.

While the subtle styling tweaks over the lesser-spec models aren’t as in your face as with some models but are appreciated by true petrolheads, going unnoticed by the uninitiated and non-car fans.

That has pretty much been the story for the big ST since its release in 2002. It was so well optimised in factory trim that it was difficult to get much more from it.

So much so, that most mainstream tuners didn’t even bother developing performance products for it. But those that did soon learnt how to take what is undoubtedly a very good base and tweak it just enough to take things to the next level.

You won’t want to lose the ST220’s original character, but there are a few things you can do to get everyone talking about your fast Mondeo. Make the right tuning mods in the right places, and you can create a truly brilliant fast Ford that’s capable of everything from the daily school run and shopping trips, to weekend shows and track days.

There is one caveat, though; if you’re getting anything better than high teens in terms of mpg, and you fill up from the black pump, it’s not an ST220 and the above need not apply. Here’s our Ford Mondeo ST220 tuning guide.

Ford mondeo st220 engine tuning

Ford Mondeo ST220 Engine tuning

The 3.0-litre V6 (badged as Duratec ST) found under the bonnet of the ST220 is incredibly strong. With 220bhp, over 200lb.ft of torque and an uncanny willingness to rev, many tuners consider it to be spot-on straight from the factory.

For this reason, there’s not that many performance products available, and those that are don’t offer the same huge hikes in power you’d get from simple mods on a turbocharged engine.

You can add boost if you have the funds and patience to do so, but most owners will stick to NA tuning. The first step is a remap, often flashed via the OBD port. The most popular is the Superchips Bluefin, which costs around £250. On an otherwise stock car this will liven up the throttle and give a bit more urgency to the power delivery, but peak power gains will only be around 10-to-15bhp.

To make the most of any revised software settings you will need to get the engine breathing better, meaning uprated exhausts and air filters are the order of the day. Ideally, a custom live-map tuning session (costing around £500) will optimise everything to extract the maximum performance potential from the Duratec ST.

The exhaust manifolds become a restriction as soon as you start increasing power much further, and while the MSDS headers from American specialists can be made to fit (they’re not designed as a direct upgrade for the ST220), the cost and effort to install them often outweighs the return for most ST220 owners, so they’re certainly not a common upgrade.

The ultimate NA setup will see you adding individual throttle bodies and an aftermarket ECU to control it all. Over 300bhp is technically possible, but it’s not easy to achieve. Plus, you’ll need to cut a whacking great hole in the bonnet for clearance, waving goodbye to stealthy looks.

Of course, forced induction is always an option, and again you’ll be looking at American websites searching for supercharger and turbocharger kits for their Duratec V6-engine models like the Contour. But don’t get giddy over what looks like a cheap upgrade; the kits will almost always require fettling and adapting to get things to fit a right-hand-drive UK-spec Mondeo, significantly adding to the total cost.

That said, the bottom end is reported to be strong enough to take a bit of boost, and a low boost (3-to-7psi) setup should be good enough for around 300bhp without complaint. Anything further will require modifications to things like MAF sensors, fuel systems, intercoolers and so on, which means the law of diminishing returns rules it out for most people.

Ford mondeo st220 transmission tuning

Ford Mondeo ST220 transmission tuning

Early ST220s were fitted with a five-speed MTX75 gearbox, but the facelift models from mid-2003-onwards came equipped with the six-speed Getrag MMT unit.

Both are very strong and more than capable of doing the job. The MTX75 is the same as found in the Mk1 Focus RS, while the MMT is very similar to that found in the Mk3 Focus ST/RS, and again has proven to cope with way more power than you’ll get from an ST220. Both gearboxes come fitted with an open diff, and for pure driving pleasure – and especially the odd track day – it’s well worth fitting a limited-slip diff. A torque-biasing type is preferable for the fast road use most ST220s will see; a Quaife ATB costs around £800.

Ford mondeo st220 suspension tuning

Ford Mondeo ST220 suspension tuning

Ford got the suspension of the Mondeo ST220 just about spot-on. The compromise between high-speed stability, cornering grip and ride comfort is almost perfect. If the car is a daily-driver there’s not really any need to change anything.

But if you do like to push that little bit harder, or use the car for shows and weekend thrills, there are a couple of upgrades available. For a couple of hundred quid, a set of lowering springs is typically the first step; these not only improve the stance of the car but will lower the centre of gravity too.

The next step is to add matched dampers; a set of Bilstein B8s are ideal for fast road use. But for those looking to get even closer to the ground or want a bit more adjustment, a set of coilovers will allow for fine-tuning. KW’s Variant 1 kit is said to be very good (about £1000), as are the offerings from its sister company ST Suspensions (ST-X kit costs around £750). Just avoid cheap unbranded units, as you’ll ruin the handling and ride comfort that the ST220 is famous for.

Aftermarket wheels on Ford Mondeo ST220 - tuning guide

Wheels & Tyres

The variety of wheel and tyre packages available nowadays means you’ll be completely spoilt for choice. Whether you choose from the huge selection of genuine Ford wheels (19in Mk2 Focus RS works well) or from aftermarket suppliers, there is bound to be a wheel out there that suits the style of your ’220.

The stock 18s work well on pot-holed roads, but upping to 19s or even 20s does give a meaner and more sporty appearance – and the Mondeo’s chunky arches can swallow them without issues.

As for tyres, the choice is just as open. Make sure you go for something that suits your needs; that means avoiding expensive semi-slicks for an everyday driver, but also steering clear of budget options that will undo of your (and Ford’s engineers’) hard work on the chassis tuning. Stick to known brands, and you’ll be fine.


The Ford Mondeo ST220 is very well equipped as standard, so there’s no real need to start playing with the interior just for the sake of it. Popular mods include fitting some sports pedals, gearknob, handbrake lever and steering wheel to brighten up the inside and take away the factory look. There are a host of companies that can provide you with these types of goodies, so there’s no fear of all ST220s looking the same.

The factory-fitted Recaros are possibly the comfiest seats ever fitted to a fast Ford, so there really is little need to change them. But, to really stand out from the crowds why not try fitting a pair of bucket seats. Fixed-back competition seats won’t look right with the rest of the Mondeo’s interior, but some reclining leather and/or Alcantara jobbies will look right at home.

Ford mondeo st220 exterior tuning


Already having distinctive styling tweaks over standard models, the Ford Mondeo ST220 doesn’t really need any exterior modifications. There’s no need for garish bodykits and huge spoilers and splitters – they simply don’t work on the Mondeo. Instead, subtle mods like tinted windows, custom grille meshes, bonnet vents, Mk1 Focus RS-style front bumper vents, custom lighting, and carbon fibre touches can all be used to good effect, and are in keeping with the car’s exclusive and executive styling.