If there’s a Focus ST owner in your life whose birthday is near, allow Ford to gift him the perfect and very generous present of torque. There’s gobs of it, as in 90 lb-ft more than stock.
Ford Racing, the company’s performance parts division, is offering a new ECU reflash for the Focus ST’s 2.0-liter turbo four that rockets torque from 270 lb-ft to 360 lb-ft. Best of all, the peak stays under 3000 rpm and the torque curve, while not flat like the stock ST, keeps dishing more twist until it matches the stock tune at about 5500 rpm. The 252 horses carry on, but more of them get whipped into stride even earlier — at 3000 rpm, there’s about 200 hp on tap versus the regular 150 — and they keep piling deeper until the 5500-rpm peak.
That’s a pretty healthy boost for $595, although the exact numbers above require 93-octane fuel (sorry, Californians, your state sticks you with 91). Ordinarily, the Focus ST, like the Mustang GT, dials back some of the engine’s power when it burns regular gas. That’s fine with us, though, since this is a flexible powerplant that won’t get ruined or knock like crazy on 87 octane. It’s also comforting that the flash, called ProCal, is 50-state emissions legal and warrantied when upgraded by a Ford dealer (you’ll want to say you did it yourself, but needlessly voiding a factory warranty doesn’t make you macho). Plus, Ford throws in four new spark plugs.
Ford says similar ProCal flashes will be available for the Fiesta ST and Mustang EcoBoost, and for people who’ve already torn up their warranties, even more power is coming from aftermarket tuners like Mountune. (That company makes a reflash kit for the Fiesta ST for $1229, also available from Ford Racing, which takes the little hatch to 215 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque.)
I’m trying to convince a good friend, who owns a normal 2014 Focus SE, to upgrade to the ST. First, though, he’ll need to learn to drive stick. Then I’ll flash him.