Monday, July 17, 2017

Hyper Blue gets some Weave

I'm usually not a fan of unpainted carbon fiber parts on a car.  Unless it's a black or dark-colored car, the contrast between the carbon fiber and the car itself just isn't something I like, especially in the case of larger parts like a hood or a trunk.  I know there are others who do like that but it's just not usually something I'd go for.  I'm especially against the look of an unpainted hood on the 2015-2019 WRX and WRX STI because of the panel of paint between the hood and the grille itself.  It looks odd to me, so I had pretty much ruled out the idea entirely for my Hyper Blue STI.

The idea of hood vents, no matter how functional or useful they might be, had always been something I wanted to add to my car at some point.  However, the only two ways I had seen this achieved was with either a carbon fiber hood or cutting holes in the stock hood.  Neither option really seemed desirable until I saw what a fellow Hyper Blue STI owner had done with his.  He had painted the entire hood to match and left the vents on either side in carbon fiber.  A hint of weave showing through with the rest dressed to impress.  I loved the idea, found a hood, and got to work!


Paint-matching the factory Hyper Blue color was easy.  This car isn't that old so there's really no fade to worry about.  Plus the M3Y paint doesn't have any tricky metallic or pearl coat to mess around with so the only tough part was the vents.  The paint line around the vents after masking them off would've been easy to spot and feel if it wasn't done properly, so we sanded them down to have a nice finish when the clear coat was applied.  The end result was a crisp line between Hyper Blue and Carbon Fiber while maintaining a smooth glossy texture along those lines.

I'm incredibly happy with how this hood turned out.  The larger hood scoop is much more obvious and the side vents add some contrast and detail to the car.  Once I've finished building the new air dam to feed my top mount intercooler, it'll be even better.  For now, I'm just happy with how this aggressive hood has transformed the look of my car.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

2018 WRX STI Changes

The 2018 WRX STI, hitting showrooms in July of 2017, has a few changes for it's following of enthusiasts to enjoy before the complete redesign in 2020.  Built on the platform that came out as a 2015 model, the new 2018 brings some extra bits to make this the best of the "last dinosaur": the EJ257.

Factory Recaro front seats (optional on the base STI and standard on the Limited) bring some stiffer bolstering to the cabin, along with more Pino Black accents all around.  A new top 5.9 inch screen reads out vehicle information (boost, fuel economy, etc) and combines it with the climate control display that was previously separate.

In keeping with the "Best performing STI ever" claims, this latest version features 6-Piston Brembo front calipers and drilled brake disks bring more stopping power to the STI, along with a revised inverted strut suspension all around.  These calipers are surrounded by massive 19-inch wheels wrapped in Yokohama Advan Summer Performance Tires.  Power remains the same, although a Type RA version coming later has a slight bump to 310 horses.

An odd omission to the 2018 STI is Fog Lights.  These have been standard on the STI for awhile, but earlier models did leave these out in favor of "covers" on the front bumper.  Much like the styling of the Focus RS and the Civic Si and Type R, the 2018 WRX STI has large vents or "intakes" covering these spots.

While these have been claimed to be "brake cooling" ducts, this is likely not the case.  Most of the vent is purely cosmetic, with only the lower corner of each actually has an opening with small duct work that pushes air up into the inside of the bumper cover.  The space the air is being pushed through is where the bumper would've had Fog Lights on it.  There aren't any changes inside the wheel well or engine compartment to make use of this air being funneled in to make use of these ducts, either.  Because there are no openings within the wheel well that could channel air from these ducts to the brakes, there's no chance for them to do any sort of cooling for the 6-Piston Brembo brakes.

The new LED Headlights also have the High-Beam function built within them unlike the Halogen High Beams having a separate housing on the previous version.  The Turn Signal now occupies the area where the High Beam once was, giving the front end a cleaner, more aggressive look.

As I've mentioned before, this new STI is the last time we'll see the older engine under the hood.  The next revision for the STI will come riding on the new Subaru Global Platform and the FA-series Direct-Injected Boxer engine.  The 2018 and 2019 WRX STI is the last of the EJ-breed.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Baby Driver - More than just a Subie Scene

It's a heart-thumping heist-thrilling hoonigan's dream on the silver screen.  And there's so much more to it than the red WRX that caught your eye in the trailers!

I was fortunate enough to see an early showing of Baby Driver this weekend.  Normally I write about Subarus on this blog, and certainly the footage leading up to this film's release had enthusiasts buzzing about the Hawkeye drifting it's way through Atlanta's streets.  I'd be lying if I didn't admit that those scenes made me say "I should check this out".  As the air date neared, I worried that Baby Driver would be nothing more than a bunch of cool car chases with a few Hollywood icons drizzled in and a plot that meanders from chase to chase.  I'm happy to report that this is certainly not the case.

From start to finish, Baby Driver, delivers in droves.  Building the character of "Baby" (Ansel Elgort) starts right from the top, but so does the musical choreography that follows the entire film.  The emotional connection of music to driving has been something I've loved since I started driving.  Seeing it take form in this movie was truly enjoyable to take in.  Wright's incorporation of pop songs like Bellbottoms, Harlem Shuffle, and Nowhere to Run, frame each scene so closely that it almost feels like musical theater choreography.  Each strike of the music coincides with a door closing, a gun shooting, a crash unfolding.  It's so fun to see and hear 30-something songs hand picked by Edgar Wright over the last two decades come together for a truly engaging experience.

If this isn't enough to convince you that this film is worth more than you gave it credit for, maybe the 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes is.  The only things missing from Baby Driver are seatbelts on the theater's chairs.  So buckle up and hang on for the roller coaster that'll keep you engaged to the end credits.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Invidia R400 - 2016 Subaru WRX

It's been a little bit of a wait thanks to a recall with the initial batch of these, but the Invidia R400 "Gemini" Catback exhaust is finally out in the world.  Available for the BRZ, WRX, and WRX STI, it offers a deep, rich exhaust note and a high flow design that optimizes engine performance.  These were designed to fill the sound gap between the Q300 and N1 system. The R400 produces a unique, aggressive note while reducing harsh cabin noise.  We paired this R400 system with a Invidia J-pipe for the 2016 Subaru WRX it was installed on along with a tune provided by Boosted Performance Tuning.

I was surprised at how nice this exhaust sounded.  I own a WRX STI and am used to that "Subaru Rumble" that Unequal Length Headers provide.  The stock WRX has Equal Length headers so most of the exhaust systems I had heard up to this point had sounded fairly generic and had lost their character.  While certainly not as obvious, the Gemini R400 manages to bring a light warble to the sound, especially at lower RPMs.  The pops and bangs accompanying each lift and shift are fun, too.

Like most Invidia products, the fitment and finish is great.  The exhaust outlets are a little wider than I expected based on the pictures I had seen before.  They fill out nearly every inch of space provided by the stock WRX bumper and have that crisp engraving on the side.  Things bolt up where they should be and the whole install was a piece of cake.

Perhaps the most satisfying thing about the R400 is that you can enjoy a lively exhaust without obnoxious cabin noise or drone.  It's relatively calm under normal city driving but playful and enjoyable with a quick dab of throttle.  Even when under hard acceleration, with the windows up, you can easily talk to the person next to you as you row through the gears.  Downshifting to a stop some drone manages to make it's way through, but it's not noticeable enough to be a deal breaker.


There's a reason the Gemini R400 was tough to come by when they first came out.  Response was far higher than Invidia expected and the recall on the first batch backed up things even more.  My friend waited two months to get this exhaust system but, after testing and tuning his WRX, we both agree it was worth the wait.  This system works great on the WRX and WRX STI, but I feel like there's a shortage of exhaust systems that I like on the WRX while there's a good long list to choose from with the WRX STI.  For that reason, the Gemini stands out to me as an excellent choice for 2015+ WRX owners looking to upgrade.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Boxers @ Baxter 2017


On July 15th and 16th, Nebraska will be buzzing with the iconic rumble of Subarus moreso than usual.  It's Baxter Subaru's 3rd Annual "Boxers @ Baxter" event!  This year's event is gonna be a blast!  Here's all the details you need to know about this weekend of Subaru!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Are Subaru Limited Editions Worth It?

Recently, the Subaru portfolio has been getting a lot of attention in the way of "Special Editions".  From the red-clad Special Edition Crosstrek to the eye-catching Series.Yellow BRZ, these stand-out Subies have limited production numbers and come as they are.  With the BRZ tS and WRX STI Type RA on the way to start off Subaru's latest run of 50th Anniversary Special Edition models, it's a good time to figure out if these Limited Editions are worth their bumped-up asking prices.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Focus RS vs WRX STI

Road Tests, drag races, and track attacks galore have been pitting the Focus RS up against the competition since it's release last year.  In the Subaru WRX STI camp, it's been a common point of discussion and debate, especially when it comes to the drivetrain of the new kid on the Ken Block.  As I've mentioned before, the market needed something like the Focus RS to breathe some life and competition back into the hot hatch / performance daily segment.  So what's the score look like now that it's been unleashed on the world?