Taking a fast Fiesta and making it faster isn’t something new. It’s something owners and enthusiasts have been doing right from the launch of the very first sporting Mk1s. And it’s a tradition that is very much still alive today. Not only is it alive, but tuning is thriving with the Mk8 Fiesta ST. Improving the performance and styling of the latest fast Fiesta is easier than it ever has been before.
Building on the massive Mk7 Fiesta ST tuning scene, the foundations for improving the performance of the Mk8 ST were already in place long before the car was even launched. As such, numerous fast Ford specialists were quick to get to grips with the upgrades. Today you’re well catered for. Whether it’s just a simple remap or a big-turbo monster you’re after, there are specialists ready to deliver.
Of course, the sweet spot for most enthusiastic owners is somewhere in between those two extremes. The exact mods you opt for will depend ultimately on what you want from the car. Is it a B-road bruiser? A track-day racer? Or a show stunner?
But the good news there are loads of options. Here are just some of the mods we’d recommend for tuning the Mk8 ST.
Tuning the EcoBoost engine
The Mk8 ST’s EcoBoost may have lost 100cc and dropped a cylinder compared to the Mk7, but that hasn’t made it any less tuneable. Or powerful.
Your first step should be a performance remap. Even if you’re keeping the car totally stock elsewhere! A first-stage software upgrade (that requires nothing more than a decent panel filter in the stock airbox) will really bring the ST to life. You’ll enjoy sharper throttle response, better pulling power, and ultimately more horsepower too.
The only caveat is to choose a calibration from a reputable company. Do your homework and choose one of the many respected Ford tuners in the scene, and you’ll enjoy all the benefits without any compromise. Mountune, Laird Performance, Revo, and Collins Performance all have first-stage software upgrades for the Mk8 ST, with prices ranging from £300 to £600.
That will quench your thirst for power for a while, but those looking to take engine tuning to the next level will start reaching the limits of the factory hardware pretty quickly.
Performance exhaust & air filter
The fundamentals of air filter and exhaust upgrades come next and are well supported by upgrades from the main names in Ford tuning. Mountune offers a very impressive carbon induction kit for £399, but alternatives are also available from as little as £150. The good news is, at this point you don’t need to start worrying about expensive sports cats and sports GPFs, and a decent cat-back system will bring a healthy growl to your ST as well as getting rid of the unwanted gases fast enough not to impede engine tuning.
A performance intercooler is next on the list to keep the charge air temps under control (prices range from £310 for the Stage 1 Airtec unit through to nearly £1000 for the massive Pro Alloy upgrade). The Mk8’s 1.5-litre EcoBoost also struggles with restrictive pipework, so a big boost pipe kit, high-flow throttle elbow, and induction hose will all make a notable difference too.
Time for another remap?
Collins says its CP2 software adapts as you add further hardware upgrades so there is no need for further software upgrades at this point, whereas other software is designed to work with hardware upgrades: Mountune’s M260 and Revo’s Stage 2 work best with an induction kit, intercooler, and charge pipe upgrade, while Laird’s Stage 2 software ideally requires an intake, intercooler, sports cat and GPF delete for optimal results.
These fundamental upgrades will take power to around 260-270bhp without any problem, but for more you’ll need to replace the turbo. As with the Mk7 ST, there are several turbo upgrade options for the Mk8 too.
Big turbo upgrades
Mountune has recently released its new hybrid turbo that forms the foundations of the m285 upgrade, while Collins Performance has been working closely with Turbo Technics and the new S285 hybrid turbocharger to offer complete upgrade kits for the Mk8 Fiesta ST. Existing m260 customers can upgrade to the m285 for less than £2000, while the Collins S285 turbo and CP3 software is available for around £1600 outright, or as little as £1050-£1300 if you exchange your old turbo. But, both the m285 and CP3 packages recommend upgrading to forged pistons and con-rods too, so factor this into any budgets.
Hybrid turbo kits take power to around 280-290bhp, which is about the limit for bolt-on upgrades for the Mk8 at present. But with some custom tuning and bit of forward thinking, well into the 300bhp range is easily possible.
Like the Mk7 ST, the Mk8 seems to handle power increases remarkably well. Even the stock clutch seems happy until you start fitting bigger turbos and chasing 300bhp. Upgrades are available, though, starting at around £300.
One thing you will want to invest in is an upgraded lower torque mount to reduce engine movement and the likelihood of any wheel hop under hard acceleration. Collins Performance offer a CNC machined aluminium stabilizer that’s available with either Powerflex’s yellow (70A) bushes, or the stiffer Purple (80A) bushes for track use, which costs £115. Owners also report more positive gear shifts as a result too.
Finally, a quick shift kit (prices start around £55) is a simple upgrade that makes a positive difference and is something you’ll benefit from every time you drive the car.
Mk8 Fiesta ST Tuning: Suspension
The Fiesta has always been famed for its playful handling, and the Mk8 continues that tradition. But, as ever, the excellent base Ford gave us can be improved upon.
The first step, and more than enough for most users, is a set of lowering springs. These cost around £150-to-£200 and work with the OE dampers to provide OE levels of comfort but with a meaner stance that offers reduced body roll, better turn-in, and an all-round sharper handling experience. They’re not expensive and make a huge improvement to how the car looks as well as how it drives.
For more serious drivers, or those venturing on track a few times a year, a good set of coilovers might be a better option. Bilstein’s B16 kit and KW’s Variant 3 coilovers are among the best available, and cost around £1600. Ford even fitted adjustable coilovers to the Performance Edition, and ST Edition, which can be retro-fitted and costs about £1800. The compromise in ride quality might not be ideal for all owners, but a good set of coilovers will certainly help see your lap times tumble on track.
A quality set of poly-bushes and chassis stiffening braces take things to the next level before we begin to enter uncompromising, stripped-out race car territory.
One area that can be improved without any negative side-effects is the brakes. Start by replacing the OE-spec pads with some quality fast-road upgrades. These can be accompanied by performance discs and brake lines to provide a performance overhaul of the standard stoppers.
But the ultimate in braking means swapping the factory calliper for something more manly. That doesn’t always mean having to go massive though: a decent 330mm brake kit works wonders on the little ST, and Pumaspeed offers a complete bolt-on 330mm/4-pot kit for just over £900.
Upgrading Wheels and Tyres
Wheels are always a game changer, and it’s no different with the latest Fiesta. The stock ST alloys are fantastic, but if you want to make your Mk8 stand out from the crowd then a new set of alloys is the way to do it. If you choose wisely, you can also save yourself a good few kgs over the stock ones and have even more clearance for bigger brakes too.
We’d suggest sticking with 18in rims for a road car, but – as with the Mk7 – track fans may find a smaller 17in or even 16in wheel better for handling on circuit.
The stock wheels are 7.5J with an offset of ET42.5, but you can play around a little an run an 8J rim with a slightly lower offset and fill the arches better – many specialists recommend retaining the 205-section tyre to avoid and clearance issues, although we have seen owners running 215s without any fuss.
Mk8 Fiesta ST Tuning: Exterior
The ST already looks sharp with its sports styling, but those aggressive looks can be beefed up even further with some well-placed subtle upgrades. The ever popular low-line splitter kits work well on the Mk8 to accentuate its sporting credentials, and pair up with lowering springs to give a ground-hugging race car-like stance. There’s plenty to choose from too; Delta Styling, Maxton Designs, and Triple R Composites all have a catalogue of styling parts for the Mk8 ST.
All Mk8 STs come well-equipped, but of you’ve already got a top-spec ST-3 model, or have the sought-after Track Pack added then you’ve already got an ideal fast road setup that’s practical enough for the odd track day too.
If you do want to personalise things, a set of sporty bucket seats from Corbeau do the trick. You can take things further with rear seat deletes and Airtec Motorsport even does a bolt-in show cage too. Adding a false floor and a cargo net allows you to retain some kind of boot space. Things start to look very OEM-plus – like a kind of Fiesta ST Clubsport; perfect for cruising across to Germany in comfort, setting some blistering laps around the Nürburgring, and then cruising home again.