While the Ford Focus ST is a fantastic daily driver in stock form, it's an immensely popular vehicle for aftermarket upgrades. Available from 2013-2018 (in the United States), this hot hatchback offers an affordable performance machine in a compact size that also gives drivers tons of practicality. For those that love customizing and personalizing their vehicles, the Focus ST is a fantastic blank slate that is ready to be outfitted with a wide variety of aftermarket parts, from subtle and affordable to all-out, track-ready components.
This guide is designed to provide a quick overview of some common and popular modifications, specifically for those that are new to the vehicle or the aftermarket scene. There's a wide range of products to take a look at, and even those that want to keep their car as "stock" as possible are sure to find some mods that can enhance their driving experience without going completely overboard. And if going overboard is your style, we offer everything you need for that as well!
Anybody who’s spent time researching new air filters for their Focus ST knows that this is not a magic cure that will give you 50 additional horsepower and lb-ft of torque. However, it will give you just a bit more airflow, lending some more throttle response and power. Enough to be noticed? Probably, but not by much. Realistically, this is a popular mod because it’s extremely easy and adds a much more noticeable “whoosh” sound from the turbo. As a standalone or the beginning of a much grander engine overhaul, a new air filter is a no brainer. If you're looking to take things to the next level, especially in conjunction with a tune, it may be worth spending a bit more coin to get a new cold air intake.
Sound Symposer Delete
There will be some people that try to convince you that you need to remove the sound symposer from your Focus ST before you even drive it off the dealer lot. We certainly won’t go that far, and at least, unlike some other sound symposers, there isn’t artificial engine noise being pumped through the audio system’s speakers. What you do have is actual engine noise essentially being allowed into the cabin through a long tube. There are two primary advantages of deleting this component. The first is that you’ll be able to hear the engine in a more natural way, which some folks will like and others won’t. The second reason is that it will really clean up the engine bay, which is nice for car shows or if you’re constantly doing work under the hood.
Short Throw Shifter
From the factory, the shifter on the Focus ST is of a moderately sporty European feel...solid and notchy, and about what you'd expect for a performance-oriented commuter car. Shifts are not especially crisp, though certainly not vague. The throws are fairly long, but we’re not talking country miles between 2nd and 3rd gear. Those that prefer a more spirited and performance-oriented feel to their shifts might enjoy the added benefits of a short-throw shifter. From affordable and easy-to-install short throw shifter plates to more involved complete overhauls, you’re sure to find something that matches your wants, mechanic ability, and budget.
In the "old days," you couldn't just buy a plug-n-play computer program that gave your vehicle a specially-engineered performance boost with no wrenching. Now, that's not only possible but doing so is one of the best bang-for-your-buck mods that can be made to a car, especially one like the Focus ST that has a turbocharger. With a wide variety of custom tunes available, you can find one that matches your lifestyle. Whether your ST is just a daily driver or spends every weekend on the track, there's a lot of flexibility. In conjunction with other mods like exhaust systems and cold air intakes, a tune can really maximize the output and performance of your hot hatch.
Rear Motor Mount
The upgrade to a new rear motor mount is one of compromise. From the factory, Ford opted to make the Focus ST a very livable daily driver, with a completely "normal" level of NVH (noise, volume, harshness). If you're willing to sacrifice a bit of that smoothness for enhanced performance (specifically, reduced wheel hop and better handling), a firmer rear motor mount is a great way to go. While we can't unequivocally recommend this for all daily drivers, it's a virtual must if you'll be tracking your car. Most drivers report some increased vibration during low RPM, but many say that it smooths out over time and that they got used to it fairly quickly. If you've got a 2013-2014 Focus ST, it's at least worth upgrading to the motor mount used on the Focus Electric, which Ford included on the ST from 2015-2018 for better dynamics and torque management.
Other Focus ST Mods to Consider
Apart from these categories here, there are a few other parts that definitely stand out as popular and useful modifications.
The Steeda clutch spring assist kit is another great option at a super affordable price that can really have a big impact on your driving experience. While the clutch pedal feel on a stock Focus ST is by no means bad, it can feel a little wonky at times. This Steeda spring is an easy install that will help to smooth out and lighten the feel of depressing and releasing the clutch pedal. Many consider it a must-buy!
A blow-off valve to replace your stock bypass valve is a mod that can definitely be divisive. It doesn’t offer any performance benefits and really just exists for one purpose: It makes more noise. For those that grew up playing Need for Speed and Midnight Club, the familiar hiss and whoosh of air being vented into the atmosphere by a turbo car was always something to aspire to. If this sounds like something you'd enjoy, it can be a fun and affordable add-on.
As mentioned before, a cold air intake kit can be a great complement to more involved engine upgrades and can pair well with a tune. The final item rounding out the trifecta there would be a cat-back exhaust system, which will really open things up in terms of airflow and power.
For exterior style mods, you can check out some mud flaps or new wheels. Wheels and tires can be pricey, but they’re a great way to really change the street presence and performance of your vehicle. Plus, those that live in climates with four true seasons can always appreciate the benefits of having a set of winter tires.