Let’s face it, the base model Subaru WRX is no pooch. With a 268 horsepower turbocharged Subaru Boxer engine, sport tuned suspension, and six speed manual transmission it can scoot from zero to sixty mph in about five and a half seconds.
Still, making your base model WRX a little faster than the next guys’ is a noble pursuit and we’ve got the tips that will help you do just that!
Getting more power from a turbo engine boils down to two things: reducing air flow restrictions and adjusting ECU programming in order to manage the new air flow parameters.
Let It Inhale
It’s a well known fact that putting more air into the combustion chambers will result in more power and doing so is pretty easy. Trading out the stock air filter for a low-restriction conical filter with a straight intake tube can significantly increase horsepower. You may not pass your next emissions test, but hey, it’s horsepower we are after. Right?
Let It Exhale
What goes in must come out. Increased air intake necessitates increased exhaust. Upgrading your exhaust system might involve installing a cat back exhaust, downpipe, or both. All it takes is a few bolts and clamps and your upgraded exhaust will be be burbling like a race car.
Make ‘Em Play Nice
Now that you’ve got new intake and exhaust, you’ve got to ensure that your engine’s computer can manage the increased air flow. How do you do that? We’re glad you asked!
Modern combustion engines are equipped with Engine Control Units (ECU’s) which are computers designed to ensure optimal performance. They help to monitor air/fuel mixtures, engine idle speed, engine timing, and turbo boost pressure. All of these parameters need to be adjusted to accommodate the increased air flow.
In order to reprogram your engine, most tuners will recommend the Cobb AccessPort which can be used to completely revise your engine’s programming. Of course, you may want to have a professional custom tune your engine. You can have that done for around $500.
So, What Kind Of Performance Can I Expect?
Most people will experience a performance boost between 30 and 50 horsepower and up to 70 pound-feet of torque. That’s a pretty serious upgrade and it will still cost you less than a new STi.
Don’t Forget The Handling
Unless you are strictly a straightaway driver, all that extra horsepower will require an upgraded suspension. Start with performance tires (the stickier the better). New dampers and springs can make a huge difference in handling and lowering your ride just a hair will help as well.
And The Braking Power
Let’s face it the one thing a faster car must do well, is stop. Without upgraded brakes, you are asking for trouble. We recommend Brembo brakes. In fact, now that you base model WRX performs better than the STi you might as well give it the same braking power. You can get that from a Brembo high performance brake system.