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The X-haust factor. Image by Mark Nichol.

The X-haust factor
Proud parent Ford wanted one of its littl'uns to be a star, so it packed the Fiesta off to Mountune for singing lessons.

 



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| First Drive | Leeds, England | Ford Fiesta Mountune |

It would make a lovely headline if the Mountune Fiesta, with its upgraded exhaust, sang with a nice melodic warble on the move: 'Hum the Mountune,' something like that. Bob's your uncle. Sadly, it doesn't. It rasps like a cavalcade of hornets doing the conga in the boot, and that doesn't make such a snappy headline. Still, it does have a couple of hilarious sonic party pieces up its manifold, but we'll get to those later.

This Fiesta is the first of a series of Mountune upgrade packages that will become available for Ford's new supermini. Nothing has been confirmed as yet, but the Essex tuner did similar tinkering with the last generation Fiesta ST before springing an even faster one on Ford dealerships a bit later. We're almost certain, therefore, that even now the sound of camshafts being replaced and valve springs being fettled can be heard just outside a massive garage in Hutton Brentwood. But for now, this 20bhp-worth of power hiking will have to do.

In the Metal

As you can see, the only obvious giveaways on our pearly white test car are the little Mountune badge on the boot and, if you look really closely, the engraving on the tailpipe finishers. Its discrete body kit looks delicious - especially the tailgate spoiler - though it hardly matches the new Focus RS in the aggression department. You can, however, if you like, buy some yellow stickers for the sides and wing mirrors. Some might say they're a bit tacky though. And by 'some', we mean us.

Otherwise it's Fiesta business as usual, which means inside and out it's a very fine example of what can be done with both the aesthetics and ergonomics of a supermini. And we really don't need to say any more than that.

What you get for your Money

You get: one 1.6-litre Fiesta (Zetec-S or Titanium spec); a brand spanking new exhaust system featuring a 'four into one' manifold and low back pressure; a set of twin polished tailpipe finishers; a high performance air filter; a silicone intake hose; and a modified engine management chip. The damage for that is £1,299 plus fitting, on top, of course, of the £14,000 or so it costs for either a Titanium or Zetec-S spec Fiesta with the necessary 1.6-litre Sigma engine. Voila.

It's not too bad a price for a car that is essentially a first step onto the performance car ladder. The Mountune is pretty much the embodiment of the warm hatch: never likely to get you into serious trouble (unless you're a total idiot, in which case anything could), but with enough poke there to work the Fiesta's eminently capable chassis. That said, it's a blessing and a curse adding the Mountune kit, because on one hand you're buying into something truly unique - whatever you make of the price - but on the other you are, obviously, crossing the line into the world of modified cars, and while most open-minded folk have no problem with that whatsoever, insurance companies do.

So, by wending your merry way into being a 'modder', no matter how modest the power gains, you're essentially telling the insurance giants that you're a big pile of danger. And that sends you into the costlier world of 'specialist' insurance, even though 138bhp is the same power mustered by a diesel Golf. Still, the 12,000-mile/12-month warranty Mountune provides is comforting, as is the fact that your Ford warranty is unaffected, what with Team RS helping to develop the upgrade and all.

Driving it

Is just superb. Really superb. It's not cheap, and it's not that civilised either, but the Mountune kit adds something to the already brilliant Fiesta experience that we reckon makes it money very well spent. Fundamentally, what it adds is an aural experience at odds with the performance on offer, but possibly even more entertaining because of that.

See, Mountune has clearly pilfered the Lucasfilm sound effects back catalogue for the exhaust's sonic spectrum: blip the throttle at about 3,000rpm and, hilariously, you're listening to a flashing lightsaber. Do the same from about 4,000rpm and, all of a sudden, Chewbacca is in the boot, getting proper narked about something. Try it - it's genuinely laugh-out-loud funny - but just make sure you don't get too sidetracked as you try to re-enact Chewy taking out Storm Troopers.

As we've said, performance is ok, if not mind blowing. The 0-62mph sprint takes 7.9 seconds (down from 9.9), but you don't get all 138 horses until 6,750rpm and there's only 125lb.ft of torque. This would be a problem if the Fiesta wasn't so satisfying to thrash, and if the exhaust didn't sound so frisky, but as it is there's much fun to be had reaching the upper regions of the rev counter. However, those figures also tell you that if it's lazy TDI-esque power delivery you're after, you aren't going to find it here.

The only real problem we have with the Mountune is that the exhaust gets whiney at motorway speeds, so we'd probably leave it if we were sales reps. The rest of the Fiesta experience remains intact, which means it's a joy to drive: easy to get comfortable in, with a general setup that balances road cushioning and road holding with much more aplomb than a supermini should. The steering is light yet precise, so it's both B-road and B&Q friendly too. Basically, the Fiesta is a complete joy to drive in any situation even without the Mountune gubbins, so making it a bit more powerful with an exhaust that encourages revving the balls off it makes it one of the great supermini experiences. If only it had more power...

Worth Noting

Grandmas hate this car. Really, they do. Now's not the time for the tale, but it's enough to say that during our time with the Mountune it was subject to an octogenarian drive-by involving four elderly ladies in a VW Polo and some rather careless and repeated door opening. The Fiesta came out unscathed, thankfully, but all four OAPs are still at large and meandering around village pub car parks in the north Leeds area, so be warned.

Back to the matter at hand, because Mountune is a sort of official partner of Ford, getting the work done is easy. There are more than 70 Ford dealers capable of doing the work and you can have it done posthumously on any 1.6-litre version. All 70-odd are listed at www.mountuneperformance.com.

Summary

'Mountune Ford Fiesta' is a bit long winded, isn't it? We prefer to simply call it 'the Mountford'. And what do you know, that gives us a nice little analogy, because if the Focus RS is Sir Alan Sugar - i.e. a no nonsense, straight talking, big boss dog menace of a car - then this is Sir Alan's aid, Margaret Mountford: it's nowhere near as in your face, but it's still got a pretty mean bark on it, and you can tell that something of its master's character and expertise has rubbed off. And underneath the rorty façade there's a sweet, gentle kitten, just waiting to take you to the shops and things. See, just like Margaret Mountford.

Anyway, we loved the Mountune Fiesta. It's not the quickest car out there, and if we're honest there's more than a whiff of Max Power about it (if that sort of thing offends you), but my goodness it's got loads of character, and for us that's more than worth the asking price. That it happens to be actually brilliant too is a mere bonus.

Mark Nichol - 17 Apr 2009









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2009 Ford Fiesta Mountune specifications: (Mountune)
Price: £1,299 (plus fitting and a suitable Ford Fiesta)
0-62mph: 7.9 seconds
Full technical specifications

2009 Ford Fiesta Zetec-S by Mountune. Image by Mark Nichol.2009 Ford Fiesta Zetec-S by Mountune. Image by Mark Nichol.2009 Ford Fiesta Zetec-S by Mountune. Image by Mark Nichol.2009 Ford Fiesta Zetec-S by Mountune. Image by Mark Nichol.2009 Ford Fiesta Zetec-S by Mountune. Image by Mark Nichol.

2009 Ford Fiesta Zetec-S by Mountune. Image by Mark Nichol.2009 Ford Fiesta Zetec-S by Mountune. Image by Mark Nichol.2009 Ford Fiesta Zetec-S by Mountune. Image by Mark Nichol.2009 Ford Fiesta Zetec-S by Mountune. Image by Mark Nichol.2009 Ford Fiesta Zetec-S by Mountune. Image by Mark Nichol.



2009 Ford Fiesta Zetec-S by Mountune. Image by Mark Nichol.
 

2009 Ford Fiesta Zetec-S by Mountune. Image by Mark Nichol.
 

2009 Ford Fiesta Zetec-S by Mountune. Image by Mark Nichol.
 

2009 Ford Fiesta Zetec-S by Mountune. Image by Mark Nichol.
 

2009 Ford Fiesta Zetec-S by Mountune. Image by Mark Nichol.
 

2009 Ford Fiesta Zetec-S by Mountune. Image by Mark Nichol.
 

2009 Ford Fiesta Zetec-S by Mountune. Image by Mark Nichol.
 

2009 Ford Fiesta Zetec-S by Mountune. Image by Mark Nichol.
 






 

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