Evo Magazine – Full review on the Dreamscience MK4 ST.
EVO MAGAZINE – EVO RATING 4.5 OUT 5
“If the old car had this much power It’d probably have pulled the whole front end off”
The Dreamscience Focus STMk4 gets a glowing review In EVO 272 this month. To say we only used our stage one and handling pack one with styling options, it really did well! Wait until our upgraded intercooler map is ready!
Our Focus got a higher star rating than the new BMW M8 CP, Bentley Flying Spur and also drew a tie against the new Lotus Evora.
Read the full article below.
We struggled to get the gel with the previous-generation Ford Focus ST. There was undoubtedly a talented chassis – something you can typically rely on from Ford – lurking beneath the brash styling but unlocking its full potential was a challenge because under power the front wheels always had their own ideas. In an age of sophisticated electronic diffs and the like, the ST’s ability to overwhelm its electronic nannies, light up its tyres and follow ruts like a bloodhound was exciting, but not particularly welcome.
So there’s a moment, when I’m driving the car you see here, that I realise how far the Focus ST has come on in this latest generation. I’ve keyed in the highest-performance map on a small handset, which dials up 330bhp and 385lb-ft to the front wheels, yet despite the considerable acceleration, this allows. I’m staying resolutely within my own lane. If the old car had offered this much power it’d probably have pulled the whole front end off.
The software map, plus a few other bits and pieces, are the work of Dreamscience Automotive, based in Hull. The firm was among the first companies in Europe to tackle the old five-cylinder Focus ST back in 2005 and has modified virtually every Ford Performance model since.
Central to the package for the current ST is the aforementioned handset, which comes in at £475, while a new front-mounted intercooler (£475, plus £185 for fitting) and new air filter (£30) assist the electronic changes. This car also wears 30mm lowering springs and 17mm hub-centric spacers as part of the company’s handling pack, at £549.95, as well as £1595 of body styling changes.
The latter comprises the front splitter and sill extensions, gloss black fittings for the front grille, fog light surrounds and mirror caps, and a gloss black roof (needless to say, all would be more apparent on a shade other than the black of the demo car), plus lightly tinted indicators and reversing lights, yellow-tinted fog lights, and the decal set. All in all, you’re looking at £3310 of additions, with the ST itself currently starting at £31,995 for the petrol version.
The standard ST just missed out on making the final four in our hot hatch mega test in Evo 267, so it’s interesting to consider how these changes might have affected that. For a start, the wide, ground-hugging stance seems appropriately matched to the first thing you notice about the car’s road behaviour: rock-solid stability at speed.
Combined with the fairly effortless power delivery on smaller throttle openings, and the low NVH that’s standard to this generation of Focus, it’s easy to stray up to quicker-than-intended speeds. The chassis upgrades have also improved the steering. In the standard car, there’s a strangely elastic feel to the rack on either side of the straight-ahead, but while the Dreamscience car still has strong self-centring, the actual feel is more natural.
En route to our photography location, I keep the car in its unmapped state. This means 276bhp and 310lb-ft from the brawny, Focus RS-sourced 2.3-litre four-cylinder, and clicking the Sport button on the steering wheel effectively gives you more of it sooner. I try a few pulls from different revs in different gears, and it’s undoubtedly an impressive engine even in standard form. There’s useful power and torque at low revs, and while it’s not completely lag-free – stand on the throttle in the mid-range and it takes a few heartbeats before the car surges forward – it’s muscular all the way from 2000rpm to the red line.
Installing the full 330bhp map takes maybe five minutes. The electronic unit first stores the factory settings, before then applying its own ones and zeroes. You get a bit of a light show on the dashboard during the process, but it’s a small price to pay for the extra power and torque on offer, and you can always restore the car to factory settings before taking it for a service or similar.
It’s a mark of the quality of the Dreamscience map that, at first, acceleration feels quite undramatic. There’s no sudden, unruly surge of power like you might expect from, say, whacking up the boost by a few psi. Instead, power builds sooner and with greater intent, a proportional increase across the entire rev range.
The remapped car certainly shifts, though. Like-for-like in Sport mode, it responds more quickly to throttle inputs, pulls harder out of corners and charges down straights with more purpose, accompanied by a new-found induction snarl. A few unscientific acceleration tests suggest various in-gear times have come down a notch, and flat out in the lower gears you can, like with the previous ST, take the traction control system by surprise – though with nothing like as much drama. The wider track has taken some of the theatre out of cornering too, with greater grip and less inclination for the rear to step out, but it’s still an engaging and adjustable chassis.
Overall, then, in terms of both performance and handling, the work done by Dreamscience complements what is a fundamentally good hot hatchback from the factory.
Originally Published & Sourced: Ingram, A. (2020). Dreamscience Ford Focus ST. EVO. (271) pp.26 – 27.
To check out the Dreamscience products used in this review, please follow the link below:Back to News & Reviews