If you checked out our guide of the 5 best Ford Focus ST mods, then you know downpipes are among the best ST upgrades. A downpipe that promotes better airflow and less restriction should lead to big gains in power and performance. Downpipe upgrades also offer a handful of other great benefits. In this article, we discuss Focus ST downpipe upgrade benefits, power gains, and more. We also recommend a few of the best 2.0 EcoBoost downpipe mods on the market.
*From 2012 to 2018 the Ford Focus ST used the 2.0 Ecoboost engine. From 2019 onward the Focus ST switched to the 2.3 Ecoboost engine. For the interest of our readers, this article will mention both engine types and much of the info applies to both. However, our primary focus for downpipe recommendations are 2012-2018 models with the 2.0L engine.
What is a Downpipe?
A downpipe (DP) is simply the first portion of the post-turbo exhaust system; it bolts directly to the Focus ST turbocharger. A downpipe directs the exhaust gases out of the turbine housing into the exhaust system. Many turbo engines – like the Ford 2.0 and 2.3 EcoBoost – use a catalytic converter (cat) in the downpipe. OEM cats are great for emissions reasons but they also create a lot of backpressure, which is a major restriction on a turbo engine.
Reducing back-pressure is an important aspect to improving performance on a turbo engine. More on that in the next section. Anyway, since the downpipe bolts directly to the turbo it’s often the most important portion of the exhaust. Compared to the rest of the exhaust (less the turbo itself), an upgraded Focus ST downpipe will offer the biggest power gains.
Focus ST Downpipe Upgrade Benefits
There is a big variety of benefits that come along with upgrading your Ford Focus ST downpipe. The main focus of an upgraded downpipe is to reduce back-pressure and promote better exhaust gas flow. An upgraded downpipe can greatly reduce backpressure increasing the Ford Focus ST’s performance. Potential benefits from an upgraded downpipe include:
- 10-25 whp gains
- 10-25 wtq gains
- Faster turbo spool
- improved turbo efficiency
- decrease in EGT’s (exhaust temperatures)
- Potentially louder exhaust tone
Focus ST downpipe mods can offer gains in the 10-25whp and 10-25wtq ballpark. With no other mods you’ll likely see gains on the lower-end. Add in a tune and other supporting mods and a DP may offer gains of 20+ horsepower and torque. Catless vs high-flow 2.0 EcoBoost downpipes are also an important factor for hp gains. It’s a longer discussion, so we are saving that for the next section.
Again, reducing back-pressure is one of the primary goals with downpipes. Lowering back-pressure increases exhaust gas speed. In turn, the turbo is able to spool faster and build more peak boost. The reduction also helps lower EGT’s which is a good thing for turbo and engine health.
Sound may also be an important factor in whether or not you upgrade your Focus ST 2.0 downpipe. Generally, downpipes offer a notable increase in sound during cold starts and WOT. You’ll likely notice a deeper, more aggressive exhaust note. However, the difference in sound is minimal to non-existent on warm idle and normal cruising.
2.0 EcoBoost Catless vs High-Flow Downpipe
It is also important to consider the two types of Focus ST downpipes – catless vs high-flow cats. Catless downpipes have no catalytic converter whatsoever. Remember, the main goal of a downpipe is to reduce back-pressure and a cat is the main restriction. As such, a Focus ST catless downpipe will offer the best power, torque, and spool. Catless DP’s are also cheaper since catalytic converters are very expensive to produce.
So, catless downpipes are cheaper and offer better performance. What the heck are high-flow catted DP’s and why do they even exist? A high-flow option uses a less restrictive cat than the OEM downpipe. This allows you to pick up all of the benefits discussed previously. However, it’s to a lesser extent than a catless downpipe. You’ll likely only pick up about half as much power and torque as you would with a catless DP.
The upside of Focus ST high-flow downpipe upgrades is that they will pass visual inspections. There’s also a good chance they pass sniffer tests or any other emissions testing. It’s not a guarantee, though. Additionally, in the US, high-flow downpipes are still considered illegal even if they do pass emissions testing.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for performance above all else then you should consider catless downpipes. If emissions are a concern then high-flow downpipes may be the better option. Again, either upgrade is technically illegal for street-legal Focus ST’s in the United States.
Ford Focus ST Engines
Here we will dissect the differences between the Focus ST 2.0 and 2.3 Ecoboost engines. We will also examine the differing years and body styles associated with each engine type. Again, this article will focus heavily on the 2.0 Ecoboost due to its popularity and production run. Yet, much of this info could be of use to drivers or those interested in the 2.3 Focus ST too.
Other than the engine size changing in 2018 from a 2.0 Ecoboost to a 2.3 Ecoboost engine, only minor variations were made to the body styling and weight. The third generation (2012 – 2018 models) only offered a six-speed manual transmission. The fourth-generation Ford Focus ST offered both six-speed manual and seven-speed automatic transmission options. The fourth generation changed body styles for a more aggressive stance, headlights, and overall body aesthetic.
If you haven’t already taken a look at our top 5 Best Upgrade articles for the Ford 2.0 Boost then click here. Also, check out our previous guide on the Best Ford Mustang 2.3L EcoBoost bolt-on performance upgrades. These guides should offer some additional information for those researching Ford Focus ST 2.0 or 2.3 upgrades.
Best Focus ST 2.0 EcoBoost Downpipes
Let us move on to some of the best Focus ST 2.0 downpipe upgrades. Please note – tons of great upgrades exist and we don’t have time to cover everything. This is just a quick list of three options that we believe offer a great balance of price, quality, fitment, and performance. Some of these options are also available for the 2019+ Focus ST 2.3 EcoBoost engine, but fitment is different.
1) Focus ST CVF Catted Downpipe
Fits: 2013-2018 Focus ST
Buy Here: CVFab Focus ST High-Flow Downpipe
CVF is a growing company that many have discussed within online forms as a reputable company. They are known for their mix of high-quality products and fair pricing. As with the other options, the CVF high-flow downpipe is made from 304 stainless steel. They use a 400 cell cat in this downpipe (higher cell is more restrictive), so it’s a bit on the restrictive end. You’ll likely see gains of about 7-15whp – similar to the Cobb catted downpipe.
The CVF Focus ST downpipe is a great high-flow option at only $425. It doesn’t get much cheaper for a catted downpipe unless you’re willing to sacrifice quality or other aspects. This catted downpipe is available currently directly through the CVF Fabrication website for $425.
2) COBB GESI Catted 3″ Downpipe – Focus ST 2.0
Fits: 2013-2018 Focus ST
Those familiar with engine tuning and upgrades likely know the name COBB. They’re a huge player in the industry and build some high-quality performance parts. However, you’re also paying a premium for their brand name and image. Cobb offers their 3″ catted downpipe for 2013-2018 ST models at a whopping $725. Part of this price can be attributed to the quality, streamlined 300 cell catalytic converter.
As a 300 cell catted downpipe you may only see gains in the 5-15whp ballpark. Again, exact gains depend on many factors like tuning and other supporting mods. Anyways, there isn’t much else to say about the COBB 3″ Focus ST downpipe. It’s a solid option from a reputable brand, but the cost will be tough to swallow for many. As such, we’ll move onto some more budget friendly options next.
3) 2.0 EcoBoost CNT Racing 3″ Catless Downpipe
Fits: 2013-2019 Focus ST
The CNT Racing offers a much lower price currently in stock for only $250, however as previously mentioned this is due to the catless status (lack of legal catalytic converter necessary and mandated by many state laws.) The CNT Racing 3″ downpipe for the Focus ST is made from the standard, quality 304 stainless steel. It also features a flex section to help ensure quality fitment and function for years to come.
If you’re set on a catless downpipe then this CNT Racing option is an excellent choice. It’s a great looking product at a good price. These factors make it a popular upgrade for ST 2.0 EcoBoost owners. You’ll also notice the downpipe has great reviews overall. Many are happy with the quality and welds, but there were a few complaints about fitment making it a tough install.
Ford Focus ST 2.0 Downpipe Summary
A tune and intake are often immediate focuses for car enthusiasts looking for their first modifications. However, a downpipe can be just as crucial on turbo engines. Not only does a Focus ST downpipe upgrade offer big power gains, but there are also numerous other benefits. You’ll likely notice quicker turbo spool and response and a louder, more aggressive exhaust note.
Again, catless downpipe upgrades are more affordable and offer more bang for your buck in terms of whp gain. Although, emissions testing and visual inspections are two major concerns. A catless downpipe likely won’t pass either form of emissions, which is why high-flow downpipes are also a common choice for the Ford Focus ST.
In reality, if you are truly looking to upgrade your Ford Focus ST 2.0 then a downpipe upgrade is a must. These options can offer significant gains in overall engine performance for those looking to add some power to their ST 2.0 engines (or ST 2.3 engines)! Regardless of which option you choose it’s hard to go wrong with a downpipe upgrade.
What’s your experience with Focus ST downpipes? Are you considering one?
Leave a comment and let us know!