EVO - March '07
Morego BBR ST280
Upgrade package gives Focus ST an extra 55hp
The standard Focus ST arrived on our shores just over a year ago, and it wasn’t long before the aftermarket chaps started rubbing their hands together and Booting up their Laptops. First there was Superchips 255hp Bluefin conversion (good value, does the numbers, but a little subtle), next came Graham Goode Racing’s small Turbo, 303hp job (looks good under the bonnet, good value, bloody quick), then Wolf Concept’s big turbo, 296bhp kit (bit more expensive and the car we tested had a problem). Now there is this the BBRST280 from Morego.
This latest edition in the world of Mutant Foci comes in at £1295 including fitting, which gets you a catalyst-back stainless steel exhaust system, BBR carbon-look air inlet and a Starchip ECU remap.
The most interesting of these components is the air inlet. Morego discovered a significant air flow restriction in the standard air box caused by the ECU’s location, so it manufactured an extension that repositions the ECU to allow for freer breathing whilst still ensuring that the ECU is kept cool. This alone gives a claimed gain of 12bhp and is available separately with a free-flow air filter for £250. Even better you can have your engine bay returned to standard relatively quickly, should you desire, and if you are worried about your warranty becoming as useful as a poke in the eye you can buy one from Morego for £150 a year.
This car has the full 55bhp upgrade, though, and you don’t need to look under the bonnet to know it- just have a wonder around to the back you’ll find two huge 4in tailpipes emerging from the rear bumper. Get in, turn the key, and the richer, more bass-heavy soundtrack reaches your ears. It sounds even better from outside you can imagine small boys running to windows to see what is coming down the street only to be slightly perplexed when they discover the noise coming from a Focus.
Set off the first good sign is that the ST280 remains tractable and easy to use at low speeds as the standard car. The 3000lb ft of torque (up to 65lb ft over the standard car) makes itself felt early on the proceedings, giving the ST noticeably more punch in any gear at any point in the rev range. The conversion itself is almost worth it for this alone.
Things really start to pick up above 5000rpm, however. Damp roads see the ST trying to melt its traction control electronics if you venture into the upper reaches of the rev range and don’t have the thinnest, most sensitive socks on. But turn the nanny off, feed the power in progressively, and the ST280 can cover ground at serious speed. It feels every bit as quick as the two 300bhp conversions we tried last year and more polished to boot.
Now, you might have noticed this car is also slightly lower to the ground than the normal ST. That’s because for £695 you can have a high performance spring set and BBR’s PowerGrip suspension fitted as well. The springs lower the car, while also reducing the ST’s slightly roll-and pitch-heavy balance, while the PowerGrip set-up replaces the wishbones, widens the front and gives negative camber to improve the grip and turn-in. The changes feel good, with no unseemly crashes and much less roll in the corners. Unfortunately, somewhere in the process of swapping everything over, the steering feel has gone AWOL. This means you have no real faith in what the front end is doing, particularly on turn-in, where you can’t tell just how much you are asking of the Continentals’ tread blocks.
So we’d leave the Suspension changes for now, but in a very competitive market the BBR ST280 is certainly the best engine conversion for the Focus ST that we have tried so far.
Engine in-line 5-cyl, 2521cc, Turbo
Max power 277bhp @ 6350rpm
Max torque 301 lb ft @4100rpm
Top speed 155 mph (claimed)
0-60mph 6.0 (claimed)
Basic price See text
On sale Now (www.morego.co.uk)
Evo rating: 4 1/2 star
[+] Our pick of ST engine upgrades
[-] Suspension kit less desirable
Neil Mckay: ‘Many thanks to evo and their driven feature! Great to have evo’s pick of their many tested engine upgrades, most importantly a crucial evo 4 1/2 star rating! Feed back from other respected road tester’s/racer’s seem to hugely differ on our PowerGrip suspension.