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Mk8 Fiesta ST vs Swift Sport (ZC33S)

Well, there it is. I came across a well driven Mk8 Fiesta ST - with a Mountune badge on the boot no less - on one of my favourite back roads. It was obvious that the ST owner was familiar with this road too. He had good knowledge of the corners and had a very good idea of how hard he could attack those corners.

From a distance, I could see that it had the 18" wheels on it and a panaromic roof. It was a 19-plate - so a year newer than my 2018 Swift Sport. Being that this car was 'Mountuned', I think there is a very good chance that it also sports an LSD. At a guess - it was an 'ST3' spec car.

I looked up the Mountune kit. It tunes the car up to 225 HP, and that can be stretched again to 235 HP. Not sure what this guy had in his car, but at a guess - it was minimally running the 225 HP package.

Now, here's where it gets interesting. This Mk8 Mountuned Fiesta ST was BARELY any faster than my Swift Sport - full throttle / in-gear. Coming out of the corners, he had slightly more grunt (torque) and would gain a little distance ahead of me... but as the speed climbed - the Swift Sport managed to gain ground back. Basically, he wasn't getting away from me at all.

On top of this, my tyres are not that great. They are well worn and on the wear markers. I had ordered new tyres literally 2 days before meeting this ST on the road. My 4 new tyres (Continental SportContact 5's) arrive next Wednesday. Also, the hot weather that afternoon caught me out - as I have not adjusted my tyre pressures since the colder weather. I know the Swift Sport is very sensitive to tyre pressures (being a lightweight car, etc.). The Swift Sport can be skittish on over-inflated tyres. I put the tyre pressures at stock levels only a few weeks back in much colder weather. But had not adjusted for the freak hot weather we had on Saturday afternoon. Hence I had likely too much pressure in the tyres that afternoon. So, I was dealing with worn tyres - with likely too much air in them - staying with the ST.

So, my car was moving around a lot under hard cornering - LOL. Even so, on a few of the corners I actually wanted to go faster than the ST driver. On some of the corners, I was fully committed to braking before the corner than giving it full throttle through the corner. But, I actually found myself backing off as I would have ended up in his boot. As the corner straightened out, he was obviously on the throttle earlier - and definitely had more torque - but his acceleration away from me was only slight at best. As mentioned earlier - as the speed climbed - the Swift Sport actually seemed to gain ground. Possibly down the better gearing - or aerodynamics?

On the shallower corners with lots of long straights - he wasn't getting away AT ALL. The Swift Sport was right there. I had my foot welded to the carpet - but he wasn't getting away. No chance.

As we got to the end of the road before it goes into a 30 zone. I gave him a flash to signify a sign of appreciation for being game - and that I was backing off. We then cruised at the speed limits for the next couple of miles before going our separate ways.

I did flash him again and indicate to pull over - so we could have a quick chat. But, either he didn't want to - or didn't see me flashing. Oh well. It would have been nice to have chin wag to learn more about his car, etc.

Anyway, what came from this is quite a lot actually. Whilst I believe that the ST 'feels' like a better car to drive. I've heard that it is a more stable / stiffer car than the Swift Sport too. But then it is heavier. Some reviewers suggest that the Swift Sport is 'too soft', and 'rolls a bit'. But, as most will know - when you are lightweight - you don't need stiff suspension. Case in point, the Alpine A110.

Personally, I don't think the Swift Sport rolls much at all. For me, it rolls (tilts) to a point and then sticks. The stiffness of the suspension is just right. It allows you to fly down a back road and not get thrown all over the place.

I'm also trying to work out why the ST wouldn't go as hard into some of the corners. If that ST had an LSD... It should have been able to pull very tight into the corner. Or perhaps - it is the weight.

Which brings me the last thing. Weight and power-to-weight. Looked up the ST online - its kerb weight is 1,283 Kg. That is considerably heavier than the Swift Sport at 975 Kg.

That extra weight in the ST means that it has more inertia pulling it to the outside of any given corner. Despite having slightly wider tyres (205 vs 195), and an LSD (at a guess) - it also has circa 300 Kg extra to manage through the corner.

Power-to-weight. Same thing. His car may have had 225 HP. My car is BONE STOCK... but I do use premium fuel all the time. As we know, the Swift Sport has an adaptive ECU - so can make more power on higher octane fuel. Even so, power to weight is the reason he's not leaving me behind.

Now I know for a fact that the Mk7 Fiesta ST is NO FASTER than the ZC33S Swift Sport. This Mk8 Fiesta ST (seemingly Mountuned) is only very SLIGHTLY quicker than the Swift Sport when accelerating out of a corner. Which also suggests that a STOCK Mk8 Fiesta ST is NO FASTER than a STOCK Swift Sport.

I do however think the ST would be quicker from a launch. Being that the Swift Sport does not have launch control - it would be very difficult to beat the ST's launch control off the line.

But, in gear - with power-to-weight being more of a factor. The Swift Sport is every bit as fast as the ST. This guy was trying real hard too - as was I. But, for the 2 or 3 miles down a twisty back road - with lots of long straights to open the taps. This Fiesta ST was NO QUICKER!

This is why I think it's utter BS when people say the Swift Sport is a 'warm hatch' - simply because Suzuki's book figure for the car is 140 HP.

You simply cannot decide whether a car is 'hot or not' by just the power output under the bonnet. You HAVE to take into consideration the whole package. The ST might have the 'hotter' engine, but the Swift Sport most definitely has the 'hotter' kerb weight. And as Colin Chapman knew - weight (or lack of it) improves everything when it comes to a performance car.

Anyway, my completely bone stock held its ground that day. For all of the ST's might (and Mountune package), it simply could not shake off the pesky Swift Sport in the rear-view mirror! LOL

ManicMechanic and Chris Cawston have reacted to this post.
ManicMechanicChris Cawston

Good reading Dazza, from personal experience using a Dyno then going to a track to test. It's not always total HP or power to weight , but how quick you make the HP & TQ. I used to also go for a tune that made the most HP & TQ the quickest ( I set the dyno to time the HP & TQ, not at RPM ) .
I enjoyed reading your story!

Great write up that Dazza, thanks for that mate 👍

I seriously recommend an intercooler upgrade and remap, you'll be surprised what you can spank with 180bhp in the Swift 😁

I'm running 183bhp and 334Nm with H&R springs and a Cusco rear ARB and bikes cant get past me on twisty roads 🤘🤣🤘

Nice write up Dazza, pity you couldn`t speak to the ST3 driver after.
Was going to trade my ZC33S for a ST3 soon but that extra 300kg does make difference.

Quote from John Kinkade on May 31, 2021, 12:26 am

Good reading Dazza, from personal experience using a Dyno then going to a track to test. It's not always total HP or power to weight , but how quick you make the HP & TQ. I used to also go for a tune that made the most HP & TQ the quickest ( I set the dyno to time the HP & TQ, not at RPM ) .
I enjoyed reading your story!

Thanks John!

But yes, some good points. As we know, the stock Swift Sport pulls timing and fuel at around 5,500 RPM. So, if want to make more power out higher revs - that needs to be programmed out. Something I'm sure CTC can do.

The Swift Sport definitely has a strong mid-range. Which is where most of the 'work' is made. It's a strong mid-range for the overall weight of the car - that's for sure.

John Kinkade has reacted to this post.
John Kinkade
Quote from Moyz on May 31, 2021, 7:40 pm

I seriously recommend an intercooler upgrade and remap, you'll be surprised what you can spank with 180bhp in the Swift 😁

I'm running 183bhp and 334Nm with H&R springs and a Cusco rear ARB and bikes cant get past me on twisty roads 🤘🤣🤘

Hi Moyz,
Considering my absolutely bone stock Swift Sport was not made ashamed of at all. Your 183 BHP Swift Sport would eat it!

His car was definitely faster than mine - it could out accelerate me exiting the corners. What shocked me was the rate of which he managed to out accelerate me. It was only minimally faster in pure in-gear acceleration and certainly not fast enough to make any ground between corners. Either I'm braver than he is in the corners - or the extra weight in his car was too great... even if equipped with an LSD.

As you know, the stock Swift Sport does not have an LSD. I had this working against me in the full throttle tight corners. As you likely know - full throttle in the Swift Sport can generate 'power understeer'. When going around a left-hand bend at speed / full throttle - I just hugged the inside of the corner. If the car was too slide out - it would head towards the white lines. On right-hand corners I was fearful of power understeering straight into the kerbs... so just pulled the nose of the car just over the white lines to give me room to slide (if the car should slide). To be honest, the car didn't slide too much. She was dancing a lot - but largely kept her line and remained superbly agile.

The Fiesta ST largely stayed in lane. But then with an LSD, he has less of a worry when it comes to power understeer.

But, even with all that. He wasn't getting away. I reckon if that road was 10 miles long - I would have still been in his rear-view mirror all the way!

Of course, I didn't have enough power to overtake at all. It was just like two similarly powered cars on a track day IMO.

Quote from paul welsh on May 31, 2021, 8:17 pm

Nice write up Dazza, pity you couldn`t speak to the ST3 driver after.
Was going to trade my ZC33S for a ST3 soon but that extra 300kg does make difference.

Hi Paul,
I've been taking an interest in a possible car to replace the Sport. I was interested in perhaps more power, an LSD and wish the Sport had rev-matching.

Based on my experience with the ST the other day. A 'mountuned' example at that - I think if you're considering buying an ST to get more straight-line performance - you're going to be disappointed.

It's likely faster off the line - yes. It has launch control of course.

But in-gear, based on my experience with that mountuned ST. The stock Mk8 is definitely not going to be any faster.

I'm keeping an eye on the Hyundai i20 N with some interest. Estimated to be 1,190 Kg in weight. That's still 200+ Kg heavier than the Swift Sport. When you do the power-to-weight calculation. I seriously believe that car will not be much quicker than a Swift Sport - in-gear of course.

However, the i20 N also has an LSD and rev-matching. So, if I bought one - I would be gaining those things... but for sheer grunt on the move. I really don't believe it is going to be any quicker.

If going faster is your primary need - then I really think you need to look at the circa 300 HP hot hatches. To get anything that really would leave the Swift Sport behind on the straights between the corners.

Last thing. I've just remembered that this ST was a 3-door car. So, likely lighter than the 5-door variant. To be honest, that makes it even more shocking that he couldn't leave the Swift Sport behind.

It's a real shame I couldn't get him to stop. If his car really does have 225 HP (Mountuned), he would have been doubly shocked when I told him that my car was completely bone stock. LOL.

Actually, I wouldn't be surprised that the whole time I was right on his chuff - he automatically assumed my Swift Sport was tuned. How else could it keep up? LOL

On doing some power-to-weight calculations. It's easy to see why the 'Mountuned' Mk8 Fiesta ST could NOT leave my stock Swift Sport (ZC33S) in the dust.

Unfortunate for the Fiesta ST - the power figures quoted appear to be on the money. This is in the Swift Sport's favour, because as we know, every Swift Sport dyno test we've ever seen has ALWAYS been more than the book figure.

Anyway, findings below...

Mk8 Ford Fiesta ST...

Claimed 200 HP

Independent dyno testing confirms that 200 HP is accurate.

Ford's official kerb weight...

3-door - 1262 Kg
5-door - 1283 Kg

(Includes 75 Kg driver)

Suzuki Swift Sport...

Claimed 140 HP

Independent dyno testing confirms that the Swift Sport makes more power than 140 HP.

On regular unleaded - the power output is circa 153 HP.
On premium unleaded - the power output is circa 163 HP.

Suzuki's official kerb weight for the car...

5-door - 975 Kg (does not include 75 Kg driver)

With driver - 1,050 Kg (as per how the Fiesta ST's kerb weight is determined).

Power to weight figures...

Fiesta ST 3-door - 200 / 1262 = 0.1584 x 1000 = 158.4 HP per tonne
Fiesta ST 5-door - 200 / 1283 = 0.1558 x 1000 = 155.8 HP per tonne
Fiesta ST 3-door (M225 Mountuned) - 225 / 1262 = 0.1782 x 1000 = 178.2 HP per tonne

Suzuki Swift Sport (Book figures) - 140 / 1050 = 0.1333 x 1000 = 133.3 HP per tonne
Suzuki Swift Sport (regular unleaded tested output) - 153 / 1050 = 0.1457 x 1000 = 145.7 HP per tonne
Suzuki Swift Sport (premium unleaded tested output) - 163 / 1050 = 0.1552 x 1000 = 155.2 HP per tonne

So, after digesting all of that. It's easy to understand that a stock Swift Sport - running good quality premium unleaded fuel (Esso Synergy Supreme+ 99 in my case), has enough performance to be in the same ball-park as a Fiesta ST.

Matey's M225 equipped Fiesta ST definitely has better power-to-weight than a stock Swift Sport - even if running high octane juice. What shocked me was the rate of acceleration of this Mountuned equipped car away from my own car. The rate of acceleration from me what slight at best. It certainly did not accelerate away from me at a rate that I would consider 'much quicker' than my own car.

That's why if his Mk8 Fiesta ST was standard. I reckon he would not have made any ground at all away from me.


ManicMechanic has reacted to this post.

Thx for the info Dazza very interesting, a Fiesta ST does looks like a sideways step.
For me replacing my sport is going to be a problem as they are such good value.
I paid 13k for mine at 11 months old with 5k miles on the clock, a fiesta ST3 at this age/mileage costs 19K plus.
The Hyundai i30N would be a forward step but does come with higher running costs.
Maybe I should keep my sport and get remap/intercooler etc ?