Originally Written Feb 10, 2014 – Updated July 24, 2015.
It seems that every Comparison article in the automotive press these days is pitting the plucky-but-capable little Fiesta ST against all sorts of competition – from the more direct comparisons like the Fiat 500 Abarth and Mini Cooper S to apples-and-oranges comparisons like sending the Fiesta ST up against the Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S/Toyota GT86 – which it’s evenly matched against – or beefier competition – like the E46 M3. With so many other cars seemingly wanting a piece, these few tuner tweaks to the Fiesta ST will make your car faster, handle better and more fun to drive, and maybe even allow you to embarrass a few people at the local Run-What-Ya-Brung night at the Dragstrip.
In this article we’ll cover how to make your Fiesta handle better, make more power and look cooler.
1. Get More Grip With Wider Wheels & Tires
Fiesta ST on 17in Fifteen52 Tarmac Wheels
If there’s one thing the Fiesta ST needs more of, it’s hook-up and traction. Upgrading the Fiesta ST wheels with a wider set wrapped in 225-series tires, will give you more of that grip you need. 225 series is about as wide as you can go on the Fiesta ST without rolling your fenders, and with some work, you can make 235’s fit. Of course, you need to remember with tires, compound is important, so be sure you’re fitting a set of properly high performance tires.
Fiesta ST on Team Dynamics Pro Race 1.2 18×8 ET43 on ST XTA Coilovers
ROTA Grid custom Powdercoated Race Gold on Fiesta ST on Vogtland Coilovers
XXR Type 521 17×7.5 ET38 – Accelera Alpha 215/40-17 on ST XTA Coilovers
ModBargains offers several style wheels for the Fiesta, but should you not see what you’re looking for, contact a Modification Expert (714-582-3330) as they can likely provide what you’re looking for at a price that’ll earn your business.
2. Get Low With Sport Springs or Coilovers
Now this one may cause some debate, but really the correct answer for this comes down to personal preference and budget when it comes to choosing the right Suspension for your Fiesta ST. The OEM springs and shocks, built with the Fiesta ST’s budget pricepoint in mind, while they do handle great, leave something to be desired and do tend to ride on the harsher side for a stock car, meaning that the quality dampers featured in any coilover kit stand to make a significant improvement.
If you’re the average daily-driver that occasionally autocrosses, a set of Sport Springs, paired with a sway bar (more on that later), is probably just right for keeping your daily driver comfortable enough for commuting and will enhance the balance of the car. You’ll notice less body roll and experience a more ‘competent’ feeling ride compared to stock, and at under $300 they’re a great value. Eibach, Vogtland and H&R Suspension all offer Sport Springs for the Fiesta ST, and each has their own pros and cons – you may want to check out all three before making your decision – but H&R’s Sport Springs for Fiesta ST offer a ride on the sportier side, whereas an Eibach Pro-Kit for Fiesta ST will ride closer to stock.
If you’re more track focused, or are a power-user that prefers to have a full range of adjustments over their suspension, a Coil-Over Suspension setup is the way to go. Experience says that Bilstein PSS Coilovers for Fiesta ST are fantastic, but the H&R Street Performance Coilovers for Fiesta ST are comparable, while BC Racing BR-Series Coilovers for Fiesta ST or Vogtland Coilovers for Fiesta ST are great options for the more budget conscious.
Dave R’s Fiesta ST on Rota GRID wheels and Vogtland Coilovers
Fiesta ST on ST XTA Coilovers
Don’t see the suspension upgrades you’re looking for listed on our website? Ask our team of Mod Experts. Call 714-582-3330 today!
2.5 Sway Bars
To start, “Sway bars“, “anti-roll bars” and “anti-sway bars” are all the same thing, sort of like how “color” and “colour” mean the same thing. Sway bars are among the best things you can do for your car as far as bang-for-the-buck performance is concerned. The Sway Bars help reduce body roll during fast cornering or over irregularities in the surface of the road.
Aftermarket sway bars also typically include new sway bar mount bushings to ensure that overly-soft OEM bushings do not interfere with the new sway bar. While the Fiesta ST’s Suspension handles great from the factory, upgrading it with a set of Eibach Sway Bars for Fiesta ST will help make the balance of the car more neutral and reduce body roll and dial out some of the understeer.
In the back, the Fiesta ST doesn’t have a factory sway bar – instead, it has a torsion beam rear axle – the fwd equivalent of a live rear axle. This means that the wheels often want to do different things and when one wheel goes down, the other goes up and vice versa. Fitting an Eibach rear sway bar helps correct this by reinforcing the torsion beam and providing somewhere else for that kinetic load energy to go, enhancing the handling of the car by helping keep both rear wheels on the ground during hard cornering maneuvers.
You may also note the aftermarket exhaust – Chris, the owner of this Fiesta ST, has fitted it with a totally custom 3in catback exhaust system for Fiesta ST that has a sound all its own.
With a stiffer front sway bar to totally eradicate any hint of under-steer and a rear sway bar tying the suspension together where previously there was nothing at all – and it’s worth noting that this type of rear sway bar for the Fiesta ST (several designs have appeared on the market) is one of the few that is compatible with torsion beam braces as well.
The Fiesta ST has a great exhaust note for being a sub-2 liter motor, and now that some time has passed there are some great options out there.
The answer to, “What’s the Best Exhaust For Fiesta ST” is going to vary from person to person – just the same as we all have different tastes in food, movies and music, exhaust note is one of those things.
If you want an extremely quiet, factory-like tone, check out the Milltek Catback-Exhaust for Fiesta ST – it offers improved flow but virtually no change in noise. But if you’re like us, we like to at least hear more of a difference own exhaust, here’s some great options.
This is the MBRP Catback Exhaust for Fiesta ST. This is a 3in system, and has a deep tone to it, and errs more on the louder side of the spectrum.
Here’s a side by side comparison of the MBRP Catback and the OEM catback – the stock one is something like
The MBRP Catback is also good for a notable increase in horsepower and torque as seen on the dyno sheet above.
The staggered tips look great too.
The next option we’d like to mention is the Cobb Catback Exhaust for Fiesta ST.
The Cobb Catback for Fiesta ST is what we have on our Project Fiesta ST, it’s a great sounding system for a daily driver featuring 2.5in mandrel-bent tubing and a mellow exhaust note that you and your passengers will like that won’t give you a headache, or get you pulled over.
For this writer at least, it’s that “goldilocks” exhaust system that’s ‘just right’. However, since the car started looking more like a rally car than daily driver, we’ve been thinking about changing that up for a single tip exhaust like you’d see on an actual rally car.
Which brings us to the Injen Cat-Back Exhaust for Fiesta ST – this is another 3in system that features mandrel-bent tubing but also errs on the louder side of things.
As for a personal review of the sound, here’s what our friend Connor S had this to say about the system from Injen:
“Exhaust has a nice deep tone. Does have some drone if you are on an incline going about 75 to 80 mph, but cruising on flat roads it’s very quiet. You can hear it slightly, but it’s not annoying by any means. I drive 36 miles to work and exhaust never gets on my nerves. Just know that there can be some drone…I can still hear it while cruising and it gets louder when you accelerate hard. I wouldn’t call it stealthy, but it’s not a fart cannon either.
Product seems very well made and the burnt tip looks great as well. (my FIST is white) I opted to get the Cobb hangers and I’m glad I did. They hold the exhaust firmly in place. I was wondering how the single tip style would play out, but I really like how it looks.”
Which brings us to our final note here on Exhaust systems for Fiesta ST – do get the Upgraded Cobb Exhaust Hangars when ordering. We still don’t have them on our Project Fiesta ST and our catback jumps and jiggles all over the place when we’re cruising down the street, so we highly recommend those regardless of what brand of catback you go with.
Not sure what exhaust system is the best option for you? Ask the experts at 714-582-3330.
4. Small Car, Big Torque – Fiesta ST Power Mods
Stop Truncating your Torque! Get TUNED!
From the factory, the Fiesta ST comes with Torque Truncation enabled in 1st, 2nd and reverse. This means that the car’s output is significantly hampered during those critical take-off gears. A tune, for instance, the Cobb AccessPort for Fiesta ST, utilizing Cobb’s Off-The-Shelf (OTS) tunes, disables these limiters – allowing you to get the most out of your Fiesta. While the HP gain is just 5% for a Plug-n-Play OBD II tuner on a stock Fiesta, the 15% torque increase (that’s around 30lb-ft) is something you’ll notice day to day – you’ll be downshifting less and find yourself with a harder “pull” at WOT. The added benefit of a device like an AccessPort is that it allows you to display up to 6 different readouts (choose from over 190 data sources!) and can datalog, and allows you to adjust your tuning as you perform more modifications later on. Dollar for dollar, it’s an excellent value for money, and this is an upgrade you’ll really feel on the “butt-dyno”. Be sure to check out our Expert Review of the Cobb AccessPort for Fiesta ST here.
Other Things to Consider…
Front Mount Intercooler
Hotter air is less dense in oxygen, meaning that it makes less power burning the fuel inside your engine. Cooler air is more dense and therefore richer in oxygen, meaning more power is available.
The lower intake air charge temperature has the added benefit of helping keep your motor cool and the enhanced cooling capacity can allow you to run more aggressive tunes by reducing the risk of knock/detonation. It will also slightly change the tone of your motor. Contact a Modification Expert if you’re interested in a Fiesta ST intercooler – a FMIC will make more of an improvement in power than an exhaust system if opting for one or the other, and works great as a complement to other modifications.
Rear Motor Mounts
Maybe you’ve owned it for a year, maybe you just bought it. But you sure noticed that your Fiesta ST struggles with wheel hop and harsh shifts, and the bounciness between gears. Ever shifted quickly only to be rewarded with a sharp jolt? These problems are all caused by the same part – the Roll Resistor, better known as the “Rear Motor Mount”.
The trick is, Ford engineered the car with NVH – Noise, Vibration and Harshness concerns in mind. If you drive it like a baby, sure it’s possible to drive without that wheel hop and harshness whilst shifting, but because of those NVH concerns, as well as cost savings, Ford opted to use more-or-less the same part as is used on Non-turbo Focii and Fiestas.
By installing a Fiesta ST Cobb Rear Motor Mount or Focus ST Cobb Rear Motor Mount, the OEM Rear Motor Mount is replaced with a new heavy duty component that features bushings calibrated to the proper durometer stiffness to make every shift more positive and enhance traction. By fitting a stiffer mount, your engine is no longer moving all over the engine bay, making for more consistent handling and the reduced bounce helps alleviate wheelhop issues, improving traction and take-off grip. In terms of ease of use, it doesn’t get simpler than the Cobb Tuning Rear Motor Mounts – engineered with heavier duty bushings and a sturdier design, these mounts improve stiffness but are engineered for an ideal compromise of vibration and comfort, leaving your car still pleasant to drive.
5. Stand Out With Exterior Mods!
Our Project Fiesta ST has evolved a lot as the months have begun to turn into years, but the exterior mods we’ve made have been some of the most dramatic changes.
Project Fiesta ST now sports the full suite of Fiesta ST Exterior Mods from Rally Innovations – the Rally Innovations Front Splitter, Side Skirt Extensions, Rally Front Light Mount and Race Rear Wing (read the feature here) but there are other options as well. The “Boss” style side stripe is something Nick himself designed for the car, and our friends at Rally Innovations turned the design into reality, and this side graphic can be produced for other Fiestas if you want to duplicate the look.
However, one of the great things that’s happening as the Fiesta ST becomes more popular is that now there are enough options that you can create a really unique look.
The mountune Front Splitter for Fiesta ST is another handsome option we’ve pleased to be able to offer – inspired by the popular Triple R Composites front splitter that was designed for the EURO front bumper Fiesta ST, USA-market ST’s don’t fit the same, so mountune took the design and reworked it so it fits perfectly with USA market Fiesta STs and it looks great too.
One of the best looking new products to hit the market for the Fiesta are Fifteen52 Cup Spoilers for Fiesta ST, which fit the contours of the car perfectly while making the car look more aggressive.
One nagging question asked by tons of Fiesta ST owners is “What about the holes for mounting the front license plate?” Okay, first, to remove the front license plate you just drill out the two rivets holding it on, then pull and off comes the bracket. But then you’ve still got the holes. A set of Painted Bumper Plugs For Fiesta ST is a tidy solution, as each plug is painted to match in your exact color.
Another great way to stand out is with a Carbon Fiber Hood.
This vented Carbon Fiber Hood for Fiesta ST offers functional heat extractions scoops as well as the awesome Carbon Fiber look and weight reduction.
As far as spicing up the rear goes, you can either replace the rear spoiler – or make it more interesting.
We really like mountune Spoiler Extensions for Fiesta ST, and ran them on the Project ST for a while too (we only removed them because they didn’t work with the Rally Innovations Spoiler) – these can be painted to match or left black, and install directly over the OEM spoiler, and do make the rear end of the car significantly more aggressive.
The most important thing about Fiesta ST exterior mods is that you like the way it looks. Check out the latest Fiesta ST Exterior Mods here or give us a call at 714-582-3330 for the latest parts available.
6. The Part Between The Seat & Steering Wheel- The Driver Mod!
No amount of money thrown at parts on the car will make you a better driver. Time and again, Ferrari and Porsche drivers have proven to everyone at track days that buying a Ferrari does not automatically make you capable of driving one at the limit. Getting some seat time in the car and trying it out on a pylon course before you go hitting up Tail of The Dragon, Mulholland Raceway or Glendora Mountain Road is a fantastic idea – and will keep you from being the guy who actually managed to roll a Fiesta ST. Lucky for you, Ford has thrown in lessons on how to drive FREE with the purchase of your ST!
What are we on about? ST Octane Academy of course! We had an absolute blast learning how to drive the car at ST Octane Academy in May 2014, and we’ve recommended it to every ST owner we’ve met since.
By improving yourself as a driver, you’ll be able to go faster around that corner than the guy in the more expensive car, able to brake later and stay on the power longer. As a result of your own improvement as a driver, you’ll be able to get the most out of your car. Try attending an SCCA Solo event or a local track day.
These are great, as experienced drivers are often willing to help you out and critique your techinque to help you improve, and hell- as someone who bought a Ford ST vehicle – and as we mentioned, you automatically are qualified to get professional Driving Instruction at Ford’s ST Octane Academy. Be sure to take advantage of such programs while they exist. Read all about our ST Octane Academy Road Trip here.
BONUS: Maintenance- Tighten your hose clamps!
This Mod is the most cost effective of any because it’s FREE – it just costs a bit of your time. Take a 7mm and tighten the various clamps that secure the entire intake tract. Be sure to tighten the throttle body connection, intercooler inlet and outlet and airbox clamps – you’d be surprised at just how loose these clamps can be after as little as 600 miles! By doing this simple act, you’ve also ensured that you won’t see boost leaks later and your car will be running at its best. To tighten these down, you’ll need a 7mm socket and ratchet and a 7mm ratcheting wrench would be a fantastic idea.
Here are the connections you’ll need to check, from FiestaST.org:
Connection 1 – On the back of the engine looking up from underneath, there is a connection of a rubber hose going onto the outlet of the turbo charger.
Connection 2 – The other end of that rubber pipe goes down onto a thin looking metal pipe.
Connection 3 – This is the other end of the metal pipe. From under the car these 3 are easy to access. It connects the metal pipe to the rubber hose that goes to the intercooler.
Connection 4 – This connection is on the passenger side of the intercooler (looking head on at the car) a lot harder to access without removing the fascia.
Connection 5 – This one is the driver’s side of the intercooler. It can be hard to access without removing the fascia.
Connection 6 – This connects a rubber hose coming from the driver’s side of the intercooler and goes onto a plastic pipe that heads up towards the intake.
Connection 7 – This is the other end of the plastic pipe, It goes to a short peice of rubber hose just before the throttle plate (Hard to get to will probably need a 7mm wrench, not a socket)
Connection 8 – This is directly onto the throttle body. This can be hard to get to with all the AC pipes in the way, but not too hard.
Thanks for reading, and we hope this has given you some insight into upgrading your Fiesta ST in the future. Not sure what to upgrade next, or are unsure of what wheel/tire combo is best or which suspension option is right for you? You can always consult a Modification Expert using Chat at ModBargains.com or just calling (714-582-3330).
Want to get in touch with other Fiesta Enthusiasts? Join the Fiesta ST Forum for Fiesta ST news, meets, tech, build threads and more. Check it out here – or stop by ModAuto at one of our monthly ST meets, held right here at the shop. Check our Social Media profiles and the forums for this month’s date.
Story & Photos by Nicholas Gregson
Story Updated 7/24/2015