Review | Willwood ST Big Brake Kit
It was an average mundane Monday morning a few weeks after purchasing P5 ST when I noticed that I was being followed on my drive to work by a small white pickup truck. I was a bit nervous at first when they pulled up right next to me in my parking spot since I was the only one that worked in that office. They rolled down their window and asked me how I liked my ST. After a bit a back and forth, the true reason for them following me was revealed. The two guys in the truck worked in the R&D department of Wilwood Engineering and they needed an ST to design their BBK for an upcoming special edition ST, later to be revealed as the Shelby. I worked within view of the Wilwood building and would drive by everyday on my way into work, hoping, dreaming that I could get their brakes for my ST, but at that point, they didn’t make them for my car. Well, my dream came true. Gigitty.
The large red 6-piston calipers looked right at home around the massive 14-inch slotted and cross-drilled rotors. The rears look equally as impressive in a 13-inch size with a smaller, yet still stout rear caliper, all painted a bright red. Both fill the wheel interior area better than the OEM brakes. I did find it odd at first glance that the brake rotor hats were so large and the actual face of the rotor seemed narrow. In order to squeeze such large rotors behind OEM wheels, Wilwood opted to use their Forged Narrow Superlite 6R calipers. With this larger diameter , a larger hat was necessary for clearance. No matter the specifics of what they chose to use for this application, it just looks so damn good. The next few days, I would intentionally park my car in such a way that I could stare at the new brakes from my office desk. It was because of these brakes that I got about a week behind in my work. I couldn’t help it. I like things that are shiny.
My first concern of having race quality brakes was driveability. I had it all built up in my head that braking at stoplights would require a feather touch and if I pressed the pedal too hard, I'd be thrown into the windshield. Much to my surprise, and a bit of disappointment, the braking feel was not really changed at all from the stock brakes. I did notice a harder pedal feel, most likely due to the stainless steel brake lines that come with the kit, but for the most part, it felt normal. I put the brakes to the test for the first time while driving on the freeway. A brilliant driver of a Prius decided to cut me off then slam on their brakes to avoid the stopped traffic that they didn’t notice. . I followed suite by slamming on my brakes and came to a complete stop long before the Prius did. Seventy miles per hour to zero in an incredibly short distance and I had the beginnings of a bruise from the seatbelt to prove it. I was in no way physically prepared for the amount to stopping power these brakes provide. From a safety aspect, these brakes just passed the test with a A+.
Racing & Spirited Driving
The ST’s stock brakes while big on stopping power, lacked in heat dissipation and produced massive amounts of brake dust. The Wilwood brakes lack in nothing. While on a run through the mountain roads of Santa Monica, CA with a few other local ST owners, it became quite obvious that these new brakes are far superior to the stock ones. A few miles of spirited driving through hard turns and heavy braking and the group had to stop due to massive amounts of brake fade. You could smell the burning brakes coming from the other cars while the Wilwoods were still performing perfectly. At this point, the brakes were finally reaching their operating temperature. Once at temperature, the brakes really do come alive. That touchy feeling that I was expecting from cold brakes was now realized. No matter how hard I hammered on them and for however long, they felt better and better. They felt as if they could have gone all day. On the track, the brakes performed lap after lap without fade. I tried to heat them up at a track to see where their breaking point with brake overheating and fade, and I could not do it.
As many of you know, the ST’s traction control works by controlling each brake individually automatically when it detects loss of traction. Once the brakes are up to operating temperature, the computer controlling the traction control cannot compensate for the increased braking power and will lock up your inside rear wheel in very tight corners. The remedy for this issue is easy… turn the traction control off or to sport mode.
Is it right for you?
For those that do not take their ST to the limits on a somewhat regular basis should consider another option. These brakes are more than just eye candy, they are true performance parts and need to be treated as such. Three major reasons bring me to this conclusion:
1. If you drive the car too long without getting the brakes up to operating temperature, brake pad material builds on the leading edges of the drilled and slotted portions of the rotors causing a feeling of them being badly warped. This issue is easily remedied by a few hard 80-0 stops which heat everything up and clean off the rotor.
2. The cost of replacement pads and rotors is multiple times more expensive than some performance OEM replacements. Due to the tight tolerances and high performance nature of the brakes, there is no turning of the rotors. If they warp or get grooves, your only option is replacement.
3. No more spare tire! The wheel from the spare tire in your trunk will no longer fit over the front or rear brakes. In fact, you are now limited to the size of wheel you can use up front due to their massive size. A minimum 18″ wheel is required which isn’t the best choice for you drag racers out there, but this car is not really a drag racer in the first place.
Now with all that said, these are amazing performance brakes that are way more brake than the ST would even need. I personally love the idea of something that is overkill when it comes to which parts are on my car. The rebuildable calipers will last longer than the car, and I know that they can handle the track, the mountains, and my driving.
If your ST is a track car that has been gutted, caged, then trailered out to the track, and uses race fuel, then these are the brakes you NEED!
For those that need the specifics, this is for you:
For more information, check out wilwood direct at: http://www.wilwood.com/BrakeKits/BrakeKitsProdFront.aspx?itemno=140-13019-DR&year=2013&make=Ford&model=Focus&option=ST+Models+only