Earlier this year, we gave you our well-rounded impressions after driving Ford Performance’s hottest hatchback, the 350-horsepower Focus RS, as our daily driver. What made this review a little different was that, instead of bolting on a bunch of performance upgrades as soon as we received the vehicle, we actually drove the RS in stock form for a complete year before we started our upgrades.
There were two distinct reasons why. Firstly, we wanted to see just how much fun this vehicle would be to drive on a daily basis for an extended period in this configuration. Second, with the Focus RS making its North American debut, we wanted to give the aftermarket world a chance to show us what performance upgrades were in store for the all-wheel-drive hatchback.
It took about a year after the car’s debut for the aftermarket community to finally dial in the upgrades for this vehicle. So when it finally came time to start bolting on some added performance to our daily driven RS, naturally we turned to one of the leaders in EcoBoost performance — Mountune USA.
Mountune has been at the forefront of EcoBoost performance in Europe since the early ’80s, producing numerous Championships across the pond. The company has also forged a long-term commitment with Ford Motor Company and currently provides custom-built Ford engines for the British Touring Car Championship. Mountune has been at the forefront of developing and testing Ford EcoBoost engines for vehicles like the Escort, Focus ST and Fiesta ST for many years.
Now, with the massive rise in popularity of the EcoBoost performance market, here in the US, the company has established itself here Stateside as well. More importantly, its new facility is just within driving distance of our own California headquarters. So, when we reached out to Mountune to help give our project vehicle a nice boost in performance, the company was more than willing to open its doors and get to work on our hot hatch.
The Mountune Experience
To be perfectly honest, we really didn’t really know what to expect when we first drove the RS up to Mountune. You see, the company’s US facility had only been open for a little over a year. But after seeing how successful their first open house had been back in April (which was backed by Ford Performance and Vaughn Gittin, Jr.), we were fully confident that these guys would bring the same award-winning performance across the pond.
However, once we made our way through the front doors, we knew we came to the right place. The 18,000 square-foot building, located in Carson, California, really has it all. The facility houses multiple state-of-the-art vehicle lifts and has its own full-service garage where they test and install all of its aftermarket products they sell.
The company also has its own engine dyno, build room, and research and development offices. But what really makes the facility unique is the super-cool showroom which showcases the company’s rich racing heritage both stateside and abroad.
So what could possibly make this 350-horsepower hot hatch even better? Well, it all comes down to tweaking the tune on this EcoBoost engine to meet the demands we have planned for the vehicle in the first place.
While many people might have thought we would go all out by installing a bigger turbo or beefing up our engine’s internals, our intentions were a little bit different for the RS. Because this is our daily driver, we decided to focus on upgrades that the everyday EcoBoost enthusiast might purchase. On the company’s website, Mountune offers an extensive list of performance upgrades not only the Focus RS, but also for the rest of Ford’s EcoBoost lineup.
And the majority of these upgrades are bolt-on performance parts that, by themselves, may not yield any game-changing numbers on the dyno, but when you combine upgrades such as a full aftermarket intercooler, cold air intake system, and custom tune, the upgrades as a whole really breathe some life into these turbocharged engines.
The goal of the Mountune Sport springs is to enhance and optimize the handling of the Focus RS while not overpowering the original shock absorber. — Dan Staup, Mountune
Because the RS was getting ready to make an appearance at the Nitto Tire Auto Enthusiast Day event that was taking place the following weekend, we decided to make a couple of additional enhancements courtesy of our friends at Mountune.
We started off with the Mountune Sport Spring Lowering Kit (PN 2536-MSK-RS1). The springs are one of the company’s most popular upgrades, and it gives the RS a much more aggressive look. The springs also offer enhanced performance with a slightly lower stance.
“The goal of the Mountune sport springs is to enhance and optimize the handling of the Focus RS while not overpowering the original shock absorber,” Mountune’s Dan Staup, head of sales and marketing, said. “We wanted the car to handle better on the track while remaining comfortable for day to day use.”
Mountune Focus RS Upgrades
Because we were already running a K&N cold air kit and a Turbosmart blow-off valve on the RS, we decided to install the Mountune Turbosmart Wastegate Actuator and Mountune Sound Suppression Chamber.
The latter was a smart investment as some turbochargers exhibit a whistle when running an aftermarket cold air kit. This simple piece of rubber dramatically decreases that sound.
We were also closing in on 20,000 miles on the RS’ EcoBoost engine, so we opted to replace our stock spark plugs with the Mountune-supplied NGK Iridium spark plug set. These run one step colder than the stockers and come pre-gapped directly from Mountune.
In A Flash
After Mountune installed all of the parts for our Stage 1 install, it was finally time to load the tune on the RS. This was one part of the install that we were glad we had driven up to Mountune for because they were able to fully walk us through the entire install process and answer any questions we might have. The company utilizes COBB’s Accessport V3 ECU Flasher to load its custom tuning on these vehicles.
The calibrations include four slots that are switchable at any time, on the fly, by simply pushing a few buttons. This is a convenient feature that can be further adjusted in many cases. The default settings for the Focus RS are laid out as such:
- Slot 1: Standard high-performance calibration
- Slot 2: Standard high-performance calibration with indicated Launch Control and Flat-Foot Shifting
- Slot 3: Low-boost performance calibration
- Slot 4: Same as Slot 1 with less spark (a.k.a. panic mode/bad-fuel mode)
Installing the tune took less than 15 minutes, and after Dan walked us through the different modes, we were pretty confident we would be able to flash the ECU back to stock on our own should we ever need to. The COBB Accessport also comes with COBB’s off-the-shelf tune, as well, in case you want to try that particular setup.
For owners that require additional support, the Mountune ECU calibration can be optimized further with data-logging and program revisions at no extra charge. Engine performance is enhanced by reviewing data-logging files along with calibration changes based on feedback from the end user.
The duration of the calibration and file revision period for the chosen fuel type/octane is 45 days from the time the first file is sent to the customer, which is preloaded onto the AP when it ships out. Multiple calibrations can also be requested during this time period.
Once the 45-day period has expired the free custom calibration period ends. Future custom calibrations are subject to additional fees depending on the exact nature of the request. Mountune optimized Accessport calibrations are available only to customers who have purchased the Cobb Accessport directly from mountune.
Stage 2 Upgrades
For our second visit to the shop, we installed Mountune’s full intercooler upgrade and the rear motor mount upgrade. And let me tell that this was where we felt the biggest performance gains to our hot hatch. The intercooler upgrade includes a massive, high-flow intercooler along with a complete boost hose and hard pipe upgrade. The kit provides owners everything they need to optimize the charge air temperatures of the Focus RS and is the foundation for further power upgrades.
Because this vehicle is our daily driver and will be subject to high mileage driving, we opted to stay with the 91-octane tune. And because mountune is based out of California, they have a SoCal 91 octane tune designed just for this setup.
Its Ford Focus RS Mountune ECU Calibration, intercooler upgrade, and B3 package are said to produce gains of over 51 horsepower and 82 ft-lbs of torque. If you do the math, that would put our Ford Focus RS at 350 horsepower and 442 ft-lbs of torque at the wheels. On CA 91 octane pump gas, that is pretty impressive.
Our end goal for our daily driven Ford Focus RS is to get as close to Mountune’s dyno numbers as possible, without sacrificing drivability. And although we have yet to do a final dyno on the car to see just how close we have come, we can confidently say, the RS is a completely different animal with the new upgrades installed.
The car is much more responsive, has power for days, and sounds absolutely amazing. The crew at Mountune was extremely professional and answered any and all the questions we had throughout both stages of the upgrades. We have had absolutely no issues with any of the installed upgrades and look forward to heading back to Carson, California, for our final dyno comparison to see just how much power we gained with the package, so stay tuned.