How to Properly Modify your Ford Focus ST for Performance and Reliability!
With the introduction of the Ford Focus ST to the U.S., comes a whole new platform for automotive enthusiasts to begin tuning. At Velocity Factor we have already had the opportunity to personally tune a few of these cars. This is a quick reference guide based on our experience with the Ford Focus ST and what we have seen so far with this platform.
From the factory, the Ford Focus ST delivers about 220 horsepower and 270 lb/ft of torque to the wheels. Continue reading this guide to see how you can improve on that with your car by implementing safe and reliable tuning options.
Steps for tuning the Focus ST in the right order.
Step 1: Intake System and ECU Tuning
If you are only going to do one mod, your best bet is to go with an engine tune. we recommend the Cobb Tuning AccessPort. The Cobb AccessPort provides the best value for your money, is safe and easy to install, and is able to grow with your build if you decide to add more performance components later.
The intake is another relatively simple modification that will allow your engine to flow better. This will improve your engine efficiency, increase power, and give a nice improvement in engine sound. We recommend the Cobb Tuning Intake for the Ford Focus ST.
The intake may be installed on its own, but in order to maximize the potential that the Cobb Intake can provide, we highly recommend getting the Cobb AccessPort Tuner as well. These will function very well together and optimize your car’s ECU to take full advantage of the extra airflow by tuning it with proper adjustments to the air / fuel ratio as well as tuning the timing / ignition system. Cobb Tuning products are engineered specifically to maximize the strengths within this platform and to improve upon the restrictions from the factory. The Cobb AccessPort and Cobb intake for the Ford Focus ST will provide a tangible performance increase and a solid platform that can be built on later if you decide you are looking to make more power.
A conservative estimate when performing these upgrades is 7% horsepower gain with a 25% percent improvement in torque. That equates to roughly 7-10 horsepower and roughly 40 lb/ft of torque over stock.
Installation time is about 2 hours for this step, including programming the ECU.
According to our experience this will bring your car up to around 230 HP and 310 lb/ft of torque.
Step 2: Upgrading the Engine Mount.
Once the car starts making some extra power, it is good to consider adding some stability to the motor mount setup by replacing the main engine mount with a more solid one. We recommend using the solution from Cobb Tuning for this as well, Specifically the Cobb Tuning Rear Motor Mount. This upgrade makes the whole car feel more stable and promotes a firm sense of the road. Furthermore, this is a crucial step in enhancing your car’s reliability. It will reduce wheel hop, engine slop, and wear and tear on the transmission.
Installation time is around a half hour with a lift and proper tools required.
Step 3: Intercooler and piping
Cold air is a major component that contributes to the overall performance of an engine, especially a turbo charged engine like the one on the 2013+ Ford Focus ST.
Simply put, the engine works to create power and torque by pumping air. It pumps this air by mixing it with fuel and combusting it. The more air that is pumped through the engine, the more power and torque is attained. The fundamental principal underlying all performance tuning is to increase power and torque by maximizing the amount of air that is passed through the engine. The turbo charger achieves this goal by basically being a compressor that pressurizes the air so that it can force more of it through the engine. The problem that arises with this is that the compressed air tends to heat up significantly. This not only reduces power and torque, but more importantly, can create a dangerous condition which can cause damage to the engine. In order to prevent this, steps must be taken to lower the temperature of the intake air. This will increase the engine’s performance, reliability, and longevity.
A great place to start achieving lower intake temperatures is with a larger aluminum core intercooler and upgraded piping. This will help reduce the temperature of the compressed intake air after it comes out of the turbocharger. For this application, we recommend the Cobb Tuning Front Mount Intercooler for the Ford Focus ST. This kit provides a replacement intercooler with a significant increase in size and thickness, as well as replacement piping using hard aluminum CNC bent tubing. The larger intercooler improves cooling with the increased surface area, reduces heat-soak by maximizing intercooler volume, and the hard pipes improve turbo spool by eliminating the expansion associated with using rubber tubes.
It is absolutely critical to remember that when upgrading the intercooler, the airflow is significantly improved. So much so that the stock engine tune is no longer able to keep up. We highly recommend that the intercooler is upgraded only in conjunction with a propper engine tune. The Cobb AccessPort for the Ford Focus ST is perfectly matched with the perfect engine calibration maps for this specific application.
Step 4: Exhaust System / Downpipe
Continuing with the theme of maximizing airflow, there is a good amount of performance that can be obtained through the use of performance exhaust components. The main source of restriction in the the stock exhaust system of a turbocharged engine is the downpipe. By replacing the restrictive stock downpipe with a part designed for high performance, significant improvements can be achieved. Not only is there an increase in power and torque, but throttle and turbo response are significantly improved as well.
In our experience, we have found the Cobb Tuning Downpipe for the Ford Focus ST to be very good. This is the part that we recommend for any high-performance build on the Ford Focus ST platform.
Just like with the upgraded intercooler, the stock engine tune will not be able to keep up with the increased airflow that the Cobb performance downpipe provides. When upgrading the downpipe, it is very important to also tune the engine to work with the increased airflow. The Cobb AccessPort for the Ford Focus ST is perfectly matched with the perfect engine calibration maps to take full advantage of the increase in air, while still maintaining safe and reliable engine conditions.
Step 5: MORE POWER!!!
By following our suggestions in the first 4 steps, depending on how aggressive you decide to go with the cars ECU tuning, 280-300 horsepower and 300-325 lb/ft of torque is a very close estimate of expected output for your Ford Focus ST.
For those who want more power above this, significant modifications are required to the stock drive-train components in order to safely produce more power. The stock clutch will not be capable of reliably handling more power and will need to be replaced. The stock turbo and fuel injectors will also have to be replaced in order to achieve more performance. This will require an aftermarket turbo manifold as well. Depending on how much fuel is being requested by the ECU, an aftermarket performance fuel pump may also be needed. The stock engine internals will need to be replaced with high-performance forged rods and pistons. Significantly more skill and experience and access to a dyno is also needed when tuning a car at this level. If you are not absolutely sure of your skills and do not have access to a dyno, we HIGHLY suggest you contact us before proceeding down this road.
Because this level of modification is so highly dependent on the individual setup, it is almost impossible to provide broad recommendations for specific components. The best recommendation that we can provide at this stage is to contact us, and we will be happy to help you plan your custom high-performance build.
All of the Ford Focus ST Performance Parts described in this article are available from our website. Velocity Factor is a Cobb Tuning Factory Authorized Dealer and largest stocking dealer in the Southeastern United States. We have all the parts in stock and ready to ship. We have the experience and professionally trained staff to make sure that your car is treated right. For anyone in the South Florida region, we have a professional installation and tuning facility available to provide quality professional installation to our customers. When working within our guidelines and using the parts described in this guide, we stand behind our work and the products 100%.
Whatever your level of interest is, whether you are looking to do a complete custom build, or just looking for a little bit of performance increase, we are always happy to provide free advice and support. Feel free to call us Monday through Friday 10:00am – 6:00pm EST and Saturday 11:00am – 4:00pm EST. Our phone number is 561-395-5700.
This guide was compiled and written by Adam Aftab and Art Rozenabum at Velocity Factor.