Project Ford Fiesta ST – Improving the Handling With ST Suspension

Project Ford Fiesta ST – Improving the Handling With ST Suspension

by Mike Kojima

If you love performance compact cars, then you should really be paying close attention and focusing your next purchase intent on The Ford Fiesta ST.  The Fiesta ST is basically the same joint Ford, Mazda 2 platform that we loved so much as a B Spec racer.  We felt the chassis handled well but was lacking power in gobs.  Well Ford fixed the problem in a big way with the Fiesta ST by dropping in a turbocharged direct injection Ecoboost 1.6 liter engine with a six speed manual transaxle that delivers 197 hp and  good mileage together in a package that leaves you grinning from ear to ear.

When driving the ST for the first time, mental images come to mind of driving a turbo Honda or Sentra SE-R in the late 90's but with some big differences.  The Fiesta ST is much tighter and more refined than any compact of that era and it is drop dead bulletproof and reliable, not like the SE-R with its glass transmission or the fragile ring lands and gasket blowing open deck of the Honda.

You drive around all day kicking booty with a silly grin on your face and you remember that it is all stock!  The car is so good from the factory that you might be jaded and hesitate to modify it! However, this is MotoIQ and we are always up to a challenge, even ones like seeing if we can beat Ford's engineers in making a fun car more fun.

As usual one of the first things we work on is the suspension.  We feel that if you are going to upgrade the engine like what we will do later, you first have to upgrade the chassis to make having additional power no problem to the car's overall balance.  It just so happens that ST Suspension has recently come out with a set of coilovers for the car and we get to be one of the first ones to give them a test.  

ST Suspension, previously a manufacturer of good quality but price point oriented suspension has upped the ante lately by upgrading to adjustable damping and adding camber plates on some models of their coilover suspension kits and the Fiesta ST is one of the first cars to benefit from the new hardware.  Check out what we did to get it in the car.

 

The ST Suspension front strut is pretty decent quality for the price point.  The steel body is first zinc plated then treated with yellow chromate for corrosion resistance. The lower spring seat is steel reinforced plastic.  The plastic spring seat and the treated coilover body will resist sticking even after a salty east coast winter.   It is single adjustable in damping with the adjustment affecting mostly the rebound damping.
The upper mount is adjustable for camber and has sealed bearing which is great for corrosion resistance.  You can see the rubber bellows seal in this picture, a great feature for long term durability.  The ST Suspension coilovers also have a tender spring with a plastic separator  to reduce noise.
The upper mount also includes a camber plate. Camber is also adjustable via slots in the bottom mounting flange where the spindles bolt on.  The stock Fiesta ST lacks any camber adjustability and the ability to add a lot of front negative camber is important for track driving and autocross.  The strut is a twin tube in design pressurized with nitrogen gas for consistent damping.
The rear suspension uses an adjustable rear shock with a separate spring.  Like the front strut, the rear shock is a gas pressurized twin tube. The damping adjuster, like the front affects mostly the rebound damping. 

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