DRIVEN: FORD FOCUS ZETEC S MOUNTUNE MP200
Ford's official tuners in the UK have taken the 1.6-litre Ecoboost to 200hp. We have a play
There's nowt more tunable than a mass-market turbo engine, or so the old saying goes. So it was only a matter of time before someone trustworthy had a go with Ford's 1.6-litre turbo Ecoboost, here in the Focus.
We say Mountune is trustworthy because Ford itself trusts them. Owned by Revolve (formerly Roush in the UK), it gets the job of tweaking pretty much every fast Ford released these days. This increase from 180hp to 200hp for the Focus isn't an official power upgrade, but importantly it doesn't affect the Ford warranty.
So it's kosher. But is it any good?
The 1.6-litre Ecoboost in the Focus is available in posh Titanium spec, but of more interest to PHers is the Zetec S. This first appeared as a trim level on the previous-generation Mk2 Focus, although back then it was little more than an appearance package. Now that the Mk3 Focus is here, though, the Zetec S has gained a little more of its own identity.
The Mountune MP200 package finds the 20hp increase by means of a larger, alloy intercooler, a high-flow airbox and a re-calibrated ECU. As per Mountune’s previous MP packages, it can be fitted at a selection of Mountune-approved Ford dealerships.
No changes have been made to the chassis (ignore the Eibach lowering springs and Oz wheels on this photo car) but then the Zetec S didn’t really need them. It’s an astonishingly capable little car, with a superb blend of comfort and handling balance that seems far more refined than its status as a warm hatch would have you believe.
Granted, in common with other Mk3 Foci, steering feel has been blunted compared with older models, but compared with its rivals it’s still a class act. The chassis setup is great, too, keeping body roll under control, and yet offering sublime ride quality – perhaps a more important factor here than for buyers of the ST or RS.
Better throttle response
But of course, it’s under the bonnet that the extra pounds you pay for the
Rather than feeling like the ST’s little brother, this MP200-equipped Zetec S has a character all of its own – the turbo spools up faster and the engine is quicker to rev, giving it a lighter, less encumbered feeling. Sure, it isn’t as quick, but it is hugely enjoyable in its own way.
The package is available with an optional ‘sound symposer’ – a similar tube of tricks to the one fitted to the Focus ST. This gizmo is essentially a pipe which ‘feeds’ sound from the intake manifold through to the bulkhead. It has whiffs of artificiality about it, but this is no synthesized engine note being played back through the stereo. We’d recommend it, as for £50 extra it completes the car, adding a snarly little backing track to your B-road antics. Without it, the standard engine note still feels a tad anodyne.
The MP200 package costs £995 (or £1045, including the sound symposer), which added to Zetec S takes the car to £21,695. That’s dangerously close to the £21,999 you’d pay for a base-model Focus ST, but that's on paper only. You'll be guaranteed a healthy discount off a new Zetec S that won't be available to ST buyers, at least while that car's still fresh. Case in point is a current deal to remove £1,500 if you take Ford's Options PCP finance, a deal that's available on any Focus, bar the ST.
It also keeps its 137g/km CO2 rating, which makes it more tax efficient than the ST, which sits several bands higher. Yes, not the be all and end all, but important to company car drivers.
The MP200 kit also makes sense as a retro-fit option. It can be added to any Focus that features the 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine – including the 150hp version, which it still boosts to 200hp. So, buy a Zetec S like this one, avoid the depreciation hit, add the MP200 kit, and you end up with a lively warm hatch that’s practical, relatively cheap to run and a surprising amount of fun to drive, too, for a very reasonable sum. And of course, with Mountune’s manufacturer approval, you retain the warranty, too.
FORD FOCUS ZETEC S MP200
Engine: 1,596cc 4-cyl, turbo, direct injection
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Power (hp): 200@5500rpm
Top speed: 140mph
Price: £21,695 (new Zetec S + basic package)