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Tuesday 27th November 2012


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?

Interior doesn't reflect 200hp underfoot
Interior doesn't reflect 200hp underfoot

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.

Larger intercooler
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

New intercooler, but mainly ECU tweaks
New intercooler, but mainly ECU tweaks
Mountune pack make themselves felt. There’s better throttle response, more instantly available torque, and the engine feels happier to be driven harder, too, rewarding the driver for holding on that little bit longer for the next gear.

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.

Zetec S now a stealth ST
Zetec S now a stealth ST
Hunt the discounts
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.

Lowering springs not part of standard package
Lowering springs not part of standard package
Despite being a very competent package in its own right, the MP200 is overshadowed by its faster brother. But with discounts or as a retro-fit package, it’s a worthwhile addition if the Zetec S isn’t quite hot enough. And while an MP200-equipped Focus will never offer the sort of driving experience that’ll have us journos harking back to it in 20 years time, it will at least offer the budget-conscious PHer a practical family hatch that can provide some decent driving thrills when the opportunity arises.


FORD FOCUS ZETEC S MP200
Engine:
1,596cc 4-cyl, turbo, direct injection
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Power (hp): 200@5500rpm
Torque: 320@2750
0-62mph: 6.9s
Top speed: 140mph
Weight: N/A
MPG: N/A
CO2: 137g/km
Price: £21,695 (new Zetec S + basic package)


 

Author: Scrof