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Project Focus ST: Getting More Power with Cobb Tuning!

by Mike Kojima

We have been pretty impressed with our Focus ST from the beginning. The car has wowed us with great performance and practical internal volume, great for hauling passengers and stuff. Previously we have upgraded the suspension, wheels and tires.  With the chassis taken care of it's now time for more power.

In our last segment of Project Focus ST, we reviewed some parts from Cobb Tuning for our car. To get a nice safe boost in power, we got a Cobb Stage III upgrade which includes a V3 Access port ECU flasher, larger more efficient intercooler, larger charge pipes, a cold air intake, a larger freer flowing downpipe, a freer flowing exhaust and a heavy duty motor mount. 

We felt that the Cobb Stage III set up would work exceptionally well because it is a totally engineered package with all the parts designed to work together.  The best thing about the package is that Cobb has an optimized tune to go with all of these parts.  We will see just how well this off the shelf tune works with our lame 91 octane California fuel.

Now it was time to install everything and test it out!

Read more about Project Focus ST!

The first step was to get the Focus on the rack and remove the front bumper cover to access the stock intercooler.  Once the bumper cover was removed, removing the intercooler was just a couple of hose clamps and a few bolts away.
The Cobb intercooler is significantly larger than the stock Ford part in frontal area as is plain to see here.  Like the stock intercooler the Cobb part is a bar and plate unit. Bar and plate intercoolers are good as heat sinks due to their larger mass. With more frontal area, more core is exposed to the cooling airstream.  There are more rows of plates for less pressure loss across the core as well. 
The Cobb core is thicker as well, as shown here. The intercooler has cast end tanks that are contoured for good air distribution across the core. 
A side view of the stock and Cobb intercooler shows the core thickness difference. The Cobb Intercooler is 57% larger than stock and can reduce the intake charge temperature by as much as 100 degrees over stock! 

 

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Comments
GasInMyVeins
GasInMyVeinslink
Monday, March 21, 2016 8:43 AM
If you guys are impressed by the gains from all those parts, you should try a Mk7 GTI as a project. Just a Stage 1 tune with no hard part changes adds 60+ hp, depending on tuning company. Throw in a downpipe and an intake and it's more like 80+ gained.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Monday, March 21, 2016 9:37 AM
That is impressive!
Ivo
Ivolink
Monday, March 21, 2016 12:06 PM
So, the boost and lamda change with the new map is not important, just the parts from the vendors here? The new IC looks like a chinese crap. It is almost the same size, not 57%!!! larger and it is hanged very close to the A/C condenser. How do you see the cooling airflow throught the thicker IC core, the condenser and the radiator? Without comparison IC IN/OUT temperature test all these words are just worthless advertisements. I'm sorry guys but I really expected more objective tech. overview from people like you.
spdracerut
spdracerutlink
Monday, March 21, 2016 1:07 PM
Ford calibrates their cars very close to the limits of the turbo. Said another way, they size the turbos as small as they can while still hitting their HP target and leaving some altitude margin not leaving much on the table.

VW tends to leave more on the table sizing the turbo a bit larger.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Monday, March 21, 2016 1:19 PM
I can assure you that if I said the Cobb parts are high quality and fit well they are. It is pretty obvious that the Cobb IC core is 57% bigger that stock from the pictures.

As far as not showing the maps and logs, my bad but most people would not be interested in this because if you were to get an Access Port to tune your car, it would all be available to you from Cobb's web site.

If you read my articles you would see that I don't show super granular data, just simple reduced data to make the article easier to read. Been doing that since the start of MotoIQ and no one has ever complained.
MDR
MDRlink
Monday, March 21, 2016 5:07 PM
For what it's worth, all Cobb parts that I've come into contact with are of decent quality. Not that anyone gives a shit what Ivo thinks. But on the other hand, I wouldn't be opposed to more data.

Serious question: Are the intercooler end tanks really cast? It looks like sheet metal.
spdracerut
spdracerutlink
Monday, March 21, 2016 5:33 PM
@MDR, they look cast. Two clues are the material thickness of the hose attachment and also the apparent surface roughness inside. So the outside is just polished smooth. There's no apparent porosity exposed by the polishing, so that's good.
SM_Clay72
SM_Clay72link
Monday, March 21, 2016 8:51 PM
Though I agree that the IC looks like any ebay bar and plate job, the fact is that if it works, it works. No all parts have to be made out of unobtanium in America or Japan to work. Also, this is a street car and not a race car so maximum IC efficiency is not going to win you 3 tenths on your drive to the office. That said I would probably spring for the hardpipes, but keep the stock IC for this application.

All of the other components look to have very nice build quality. Those numbers are great. It would have been cool to load the tune then add the bolt-ons.
warmmilk
warmmilklink
Monday, March 21, 2016 9:15 PM
am I weird for being impressed by all the heat shielding on the bottom of the car?
Sootfoot
Sootfootlink
Monday, March 21, 2016 10:05 PM
@warmmilk - no just your username ;-)
Loagz
Loagzlink
Monday, March 21, 2016 11:19 PM
Crazy thing is, that in New Zealand, it's technically illegal to drill, cut, bend or modify the frontal impact beam in any way.............Zip Ties it is then :)
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Monday, March 21, 2016 11:50 PM
I would not use the stock heat exchanger, no way.
BREADwagon
BREADwagonlink
Tuesday, March 22, 2016 8:05 AM
After tracking my '13 FocuST with COBB AP3 Stage 1 tune, I learned the initial failure points are the brakes and the oil temps. After about 8 minutes of track time on a very tight, brake intensive track, the oil temps sky-rocketed and the car started pulling throttle/boost. Even after a nice cool down lap, the plastic intake manifold was too hot to touch. An upgraded FMIC is a must, as well as an oil cooler. I'd recommend for this project getting the Mishimoto Oil Cooler or fabbing up something similar.

I was also running carbotec XP10 brake pads up front with SS brakelines and ATE typ200 fluid. The brake vectoring is okay for the street, but at the track it just overheats the braking system. There isn't adequate brake cooling from the factory, so it's very easy to melt the front brakes. The rubber dust covers on the caliper pistons melt and burn away. Both of my front calipers have seized and had to be replaced after a few HPDEs. They didn't seize immediately, but after a few months while daily driving.

So, I'd also recommend getting some brake ducting. The Porsche GT3 style control arm scoop has apparently been quite effective, and now the aftermarket has fully ducted kits that utilize the fog light bezels as intakes.

The OEM Eagle F1 tires get very greasy when they get hot, and they kinda suck for daily driving anyway. After the first 2/32nds wear, the sipes in the middle blocks wear away, and the wet traction reduces tremendously. New rubber is a MUST.

Unless I missed it, the BPV should be upgraded. The OEM BPV is made of thin silicone and can fail with extended 'high' boost. I have the Mountune Recirc because I'm not really a fan of venting to atmosphere.

Ford racing developed a really great intake snorkel that makes the airboxes front intake into a pseudo ram-air design. Other aftermarket companies copied this design, so you can get just the snorkel without another filter. I'd recommend getting that too.

The short shifter plates make the already vague shifter feel even worse. I bought the solid shifter bushings and the Ford Racing short shifter that replaces the entire shifter assembly in the cabin, and it feels so much more direct. The shifter bushings are a must, and I'd recommend getting the shifter stalk (Ford Racing or similar) rather than the shifter plate that mounts to the trans cables.

Also FYI, the downpipe hanger rubber can sometime tear due to the stiffer flex pipe of aftermarket DPs. If your exhaust starts baning around, check to see if that tore, and some stiffer urethane exhaust hangers will help.

Do suspension and roll bars last!!!
BREADwagon
BREADwagonlink
Tuesday, March 22, 2016 8:19 AM
Edit: I just realized the springs and roll bars are not oem. Oh well! ahah
rhocken
rhockenlink
Tuesday, March 22, 2016 10:32 AM
Isn't that solid intake pipe going to put a lot of stress on the intercooler? It's bolted to the bottom of the engine, and even with the stiffer engine mounts, the engine will still move. The 90deg joiner to the intercooler has to take up that movement. The stock pipe seemed to have a long flex section before the intercooler to isolate it from engine movement
warmmilk
warmmilklink
Tuesday, March 22, 2016 11:08 AM
@Sootfoot
I picked that user name when I was still young and innocent... and now stick to it for all forums/online things I register to

@Mike
As far as stock intercoolers go, this one looks pretty good, why do you feel so strongly about upgrading it?
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Tuesday, March 22, 2016 11:13 AM
BREADwagon, thank you for the oil cooler info. This car is not going to be a hard core track car but if the owner decides to do it we can upgrade that. Funny our Fiesta ST race car doesn't have an issue with oil temp yet.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Tuesday, March 22, 2016 11:15 AM
rhocken, the stock motor mount allows so much moment that the pipe had to be designed to take it. The Cobb part gets rid of most of the moment. The stock mount had severe wheel hop, so bad it would probably break something eventually. We were worried that the Cobb part would increase noise or vibration but we found that that's not the case.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Tuesday, March 22, 2016 11:16 AM
Because the new intercooler makes a huge difference which allows the more aggressive STGIII tuning. Try it on a stock IC and risk detonation.
warmmilk
warmmilklink
Tuesday, March 22, 2016 12:08 PM
What kinda oil temps are you seeing on the Fiesta ST race car?
SM_Clay72
SM_Clay72link
Tuesday, March 22, 2016 2:23 PM
Mike, you say yourself in the article that bar and plate intercoolers act mainly as heat sinks. Once both of these are heat-soaked, do you think there is a big performance difference?

I'm not just trying to stir the pot, I would like your rationale. There must be something here I can learn. My own car runs a big cheap bar and plate so I am not above this. If you can justify my cheap choice I would be pumped.
Mr Brightside
Mr Brightsidelink
Tuesday, March 22, 2016 7:23 PM
I'm most interested in how effective the motor mount is. I've spent some time in a Sentra SER spec v and the wheel hop rendered the power useless. I would never buy another semi-fast front driver again because of wheel hop. Completely ruins an otherwise good car.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Wednesday, March 23, 2016 12:16 AM
Stock bar and plate, Cobb, bigger bar and plate. which is going to work better. Just because bar and plate is a heat sink due its greater mass, that's not the only way it exchanges heat, it is still a heat exchanger. It is not a solid hunk of aluminum.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Wednesday, March 23, 2016 12:22 AM
The motor mount eliminated all of the wheelhop for this particular car. I revised the text to make this more clear.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Wednesday, March 23, 2016 12:26 AM
I think the Fiesta ST is below 240 degrees as I recall.
Mr Brightside
Mr Brightsidelink
Wednesday, March 23, 2016 4:57 AM
Thanks Mike! I'm really glad to hear, from an objective third party, that something can be done about wheel hop. Great article, keep up the good work.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Wednesday, March 23, 2016 9:50 AM
I was surprised how well it worked, on the SE-R's the motor mounts would help a lot but not totally eliminate wheel hop. That was with a full set of mounts too.
Ivo
Ivolink
Wednesday, March 23, 2016 11:06 AM
So, thanks for all comments so far. Mike, yes, I read all your articles and I like most of them. But this is technic! IMHO you just can't write technical articles without some basic data at least. Just the power gain is far from enough. What I'd like to know is how much power I'd gain with just boost increase and corresponding remapping, compared to the gain with the whole COBB kit. May be I'm not so smart but I'd like to know how well my money would be spent BEFORE the purchase. Doesn't that sound reasonable to the potentinal buyers ....here?
engineered
engineeredlink
Wednesday, March 23, 2016 12:54 PM
Great article. Would also like to see dyno numbers with hardware but without tune, as well as with tune but without hardware.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Wednesday, March 23, 2016 11:05 PM
The tune goes with the hardware. Like if we installed the hardware without a tune, the engine would not run to where it could so what's the point. Basically the kit is designed and sold to be installed together with a specific tune available for download from Cobb so why bother testing parts of it unless you were going to buy a Cobb tuners licence and develop a tune for each individual part. The same goes for mountunes groups of parts for Fords and Ford Motorsports parts groups.
frankie
frankielink
Thursday, March 24, 2016 10:45 AM
Is your dyno that much of a heart breaker, or did Ford overrate this car? 186 whp is 25% drivetrain loss from the factory 252* (93 octane). I am really disappointed in this car. It has the torque, but that's it. Wonder what the RS will ACTUALLY be?
Cobb is good at doing their homework. Made good improvements across the board with good quality parts.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Thursday, March 24, 2016 11:18 AM
Yeah our dyno reads pretty low
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Thursday, March 24, 2016 4:24 PM
Latest update, the car is getting 30 mpg on the highway.
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