The Ford Focus ST is already our reigning hot hatch of the year because it offers a briliant balance of abilities in a bargain-priced package. If we're being picky, there are odd occasions when it doesn't feel perhaps quite as quick as you might want, so step forward this, the Ford Focus ST with a Mountune performance kit added.
The Mountune kit is officially sanctioned by Ford and can be fitted by one of 120 Mountune-appointed Ford dealers nationwide, and it'll cost you just £1225 to fit it to your Focus ST. It increases power from 245bhp to 271, and torque is up from 265lb ft to 295. Best of all, adding the package has absolutely no effect on your car's warranty.
Win-win? Well, not entirely…
What’s the 2013 Ford Focus ST Mountune like to drive?
It's quick, seriously so. Ford claims the car will hit 60mph in less than six seconds, but the biggest difference is how the car gets up and goes in second, third and fourth gears. Where the standard car gains speed quickly, the Mountune version properly rips its way round the rev counter, and feels a lot quicker than many so-called genuine sports cars.
At this point in proceedings, a rather large 'but' appears. The standard car's steering can already become a bit lively under full-throtle acceleration, but the Mountune car is much worse. Where the standard car's wheel gets tugged to and fro when your foot is down, the Mountune car demands that you hang on tightly to the steering wheel and are ready to react quickly, otherwise the front tyres will writhe around as they scrabble for traction, and will have you on the wrong side of a bumpy road in a flash if you're not careful.
As for the rest of the car, it's much the same as the standard car. The variable-ratio steering is quick and accurate, and does a good job of telling you whether the front tyres are gripping or sliding.
Grip they will, too. The Focus changes direction so quickly and with such stability that if you manage to unstick it on the road, you're likely to end up in jail.
The suspension is firm but still strikes a great balance between body control and comfort. The Focus doesn't get badly affected by really bumpy country roads it simply gets on with going quickly along them, and people inside it aren't bounced around unnecessarily, either.
As a tool for travelling quickly along typically unkempt British B-roads, the Focus is simply superb.
One of the highlights of the standard car is the noise it makes. Ford has come up with a system called a Sound Symposer, which basically means the engine bark you want to hear is piped back into the cabin at appropriate moments. Unfortunately, this sound was much more muted in our Mountune car, which detracted slightly from the joy of thrashing it.
Ford Focus ST MountunePriced from£23,220Engine size2.0 TPower271bhpTorque295lb ft0-62mph6.0 secondsTop speed154mph
What’s the 2013 Ford Focus ST Mountune like inside?
Exactly the same as the standard Focus ST, so you get decent space, plenty of standard equipment and a stylish interior
It's also easy to find a good driving position, such is the range of adjustability on offer. In addition, our car came with figure-hugging leather Recaro seats, which are brilliant.
If you need more space than a Focus hatch, the ST Mountune is available as an estate, so you can carry a lot of stuff very quickly indeed.
Should I buy one?
Unless you absolutely have to have more pace from your Focus ST, we'd have to say no. Power corrupts, so the saying goes, and it's true in the case of the Focus Mountune.
The upgraded car is undeniably quicker on a straight, smooth road, but it loses out on the sweetness that marks out the standard ST. A standard ST would also likely be as quick if not quicker along a B-road, simply because you can use full throttle more easily more of the time you're too worried about the Mountune being dragged hither and thither to concentrate on the road. This also makes the standard car more enjoyable to drive.
We'd say that although the Mountune upgrade is good for the hooligan in us, we'd keep the cash and spend it on fuel instead.
By Euan Doig
What Car? says...
Renault Megane Renaultsport
Volkswagen Golf GTI
Ford Focus ST Mountune
Engine size 2.0-litre turbo
Price from £23,220
Torque 295lb ft
Top speed 154mph
Fuel economy 39.2mpg