Fuji's wagon as a daily driver - a review.

Discussion in 'Tech, Tips, Newb Info' started by prezawagon, Aug 16, 2008.

  1. prezawagon
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    prezawagon Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]

    Last week at firestone, in the middle of a normal Friday night conversation, Fuji asked me if I wanted to trade cars. I kinda laughed and said sure thinking he was joking. But he was serious. He explained he wanted to trade for a few days a get a review of his car in the context of a daily driven car.

    Now, most people on this site know about Fuji's wagon, and many of us have seen it progress from it's original NA ej22 to it's current nearly 300whp hybrid build.

    Fuji asked me to drive his car for two reasons. First, my car is very similar to what his car was in stock form, I have a 2000 Outback Sport, his car is a 99 Impreza Wagon, so I would be able to compare going from stock to highly modified and back to stock within a few days. Second, I guess he trusts me :), I think anyone who has had the misfortune of driving behind me on the street knows I take it pretty easy. So this isn't going to be a review of the performance capabilities of his car, but more an analysis of the daily driveability of his various mods. Hopefully this can provide some information to people about whether certain mods are a good idea for daily driven cars.

    Here's a rundown of Fuji's current mods.


    We traded cars Sunday night. I took a short drive around the neighborhood with him just so he could point out a few things. I've driven stock WRXs before, but that didn't really compare to this. I lightly hit boost in 2nd on the onramp to 694 and quickly shifted into third and gave it a bit more throttle. By the time I looked down I think I was going over 80mph. I've never had a car that would get me up into speeding ticket territory so quickly, so that was something I was going to have to watch out for.

    My commute is a little more than 15 miles, a mix of 30mph residential streets and a few short sections of freeway. Here's an old video of the route, (sped up 8x so you don't die of boredom).

    Monday morning I went out and started the car. The first thing I noticed was the exhaust. At idle and low speeds, it was noticably louder than my NA wagon with a magnaflow catback. It was enough to wake my wife up as I was pulling away in the morning. Although it was louder, the exhaust had almost no drone at higher speeds and actually seemed quieter on the highway than my magnaflow. I tried to use my cheap DB meter to compare with my car, but the numbers I got back were inconsistent. But, it kinda showed what I was thinking, Fuji's car interior is louder at lower speeds, but at highway speeds it's very similar to my car. The equal length headers give the car a very non-Subaru sound. I've always been a little dissappointed when I hear Fuji pull away at firestone because I'm expecting the subaru rumble. However, inside the car the exhaust note is very satisfying somehow. I never noticed any gas odors from the catless exhaust, even with the windows down. Overall for daily driving, I'd want the exhaust to be a bit quieter. A resonator or catted DP might be enough.

    The second most noticable mod is the clutch. The pedal itself very smooth and not heavy at all, but the 6 puck clutch has a very short and solid(aka harsh) engagement. I'll admit I stalled a few times on the first trip to work, but I quickly started to adjust to it. It's very possible to drive that clutch smoothly, but you just have a much smaller range and it's not forgiving if you're off a bit, you'll either stall or get some shudder. I could easily survive driving with this clutch after having a few days to practice, but I still wasn't 100% smooth from a stop with it. Depending on the passengers you'd have to haul, they could get annoyed by the jerky starts.

    After that, another noticable mod is the quick steering rack. The steering is a lot heavier, almost like not having power steering, but not quite that heavy. I didn't really need any time to adjust to the faster ratio itself, that felt very natural. But the heavier steering took a bit to adjust to, parking lots get a little annoying with the heavy steering, other than that it's fine. Fuji's car had a little play in the wheel which felt very pronounced because of the heavy steering, I would have had a better impression of the steering rack if it hadn't been for that play. Also, I noticed a few corners where the turn signal didn't shut off because I didn't have to turn the wheel enough. I have to say for daily driving, I like my stock steering rack better. I just didn't find any advantage to the faster rack on the street. If you spend any time on the track though, it'd be worth any tradeoff.

    So, the brakes, I didn't notice the brakes.... until I got back into my car. That's actually a good thing. The brakes were very progressive and smooth with obviously plenty of braking power. It wasn't until I drove my car again that I noticed how soft the pedal was on my car and how much more pedal travel was required to stop the car. Brembos might be overkill for daily driving, but I can see no drawback at all to having them and I'm going to start looking at brakes upgrades for my car in the future. The stainless steel brakes lines probably helped to the solid pedal feel as well.

    Ok, the 6 speed transmission. Yes please... The gear ratios are great, the syncros actually work and as long as you don't mind shifting through an extra gear it's a great transmission. I found myself shifting between 5th and 6th on the freeway a bit when traffic sped up and slowed down where in my car I could have stayed in 5th the whole time. Otherwise I'd still cruise in 4th gear for 30mph streets, it felt very similar to 4th in my 5mt.

    Ok, let's see... suspension, the ride quality was better than I expected. But I'm running SPT springs and AGX struts in my wagon, so I'm used to stiffer-than-stock suspension. The coilovers on Fuji's car didn't feel overly stiff to me. The only thing noticable was on big bumps, the shorter travel would create some bounce, but the car handled it very well. I still found myself slowing down in Fuji's car for big bumps (like railroad crossings) that I would take at full speed in my car. I would be a bit worried about the longevity of the coilovers with some of the roads I drive on. I think some passengers might find the suspension a bit rough. Overall, I'd probably choose to stick with a strut/spring combo for a daily driven car.

    The extra bracing and subframe locking bolts created noticeably more road noise, but there were also no interior panels in the rear of the wagon. I think with the stock interior in place, this extra noise wouldn't be very noticable. Also, my Bridgestone G009 tires create a lot more road noise than I was hearing from Fuji's tires, so overall the road noise level was really about the same.

    Ok, so enough of the boring stuff... how about driving a nearly 300whp car to work? I'd say 99% of the time I was not using the turbo, the boost guage was firmly in the vacuum territory. Although the 2.2 felt more repsonsive than a stock 2.0 WRX at low rpm, it still didn't have nearly the low rpm throttle response of my NA 2.2. For 0-30mph speeds, I'll take an NA car any day. But Fuji's car was very driveable out of boost, not a problem at all.

    The few times I got into the boost was on the freeway on ramps or passing on the freeway. Coming down the ramp in 3rd gear at about 3000 rpm it only took a quick stab of the throttle to get up to (or past) the speed limit and merge. The amount of power the car made really was overkill for a daily commute. Fun, but overkill. I'm a little torn, but I still think I'd prefer NA overall, but if I spent more miles on the freeways, I'd take the raw hp over the low rpm NA torque.
     
  2. prezawagon
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    prezawagon Well-Known Member

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    ... continued.

    I'd be interesting in trying a 2.0 stage 2 WRX or any stage 2.5 WRX and see how it compares. Having either a turbo that spools sooner or a bigger block with more torque might wipe out any advatage I think the NA still has.

    I drove about 100 miles in three days and got just about 22mpg. My 2.2 NA would have probably gotten about 25-27 with the same mix of driving. I thought this mpg was acceptable given the mods done to the car.

    So, two conclusions. First, if it were a permanent trade and I had to commute in Fuji's car every day. First, I would quiet the exhaust down a bit with a resonator or cat. I would put a few more interior pieces back in and maybe a bit of extra sound deadening. I would install a stereo, a radiator fan (or two) and probalby try to get the AC working again. The clutch I would keep, but it would get replaced with something less agressive. The coilovers I would keep, but again in the future they'd be replaced with something with more travel.

    Second, what would I do to my car (if I had money to burn) after driving Fuji's. I'd buy (and probably will buy) better seats. He has an 04 wrx driver's seat that . I didn't realize how much difference that would make compared to the stock impreza wagon seats, it was great. I was happy to try that out too since I knew they sit a bit taller. I'm almost 6', and I could still (barely) wear my helmet in the car. I'd also look at a brake upgrade, maybe wrx brakes and ss lines. I already have spt springs, agx struts, strut tower braces and a bigger rear sway bar in my wagon and I'm happy with them for the driving I do. Power-wise, for the driving I do, I don't think I'd invest in doing a turbo swap on my car. For daily driving, rallycross and some ice driving, my 2.2 NA is just enough.
     
  3. piddster
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    piddster Lone Wolf

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    Nice write up.



    I agree on the ratios in the 6mt. Unless you are drag racing a lot or doing frumrollz the 6 speed is great. Yes you shift a lot, but its really smooth and you can shift quicker than with a 5 speed. Double and triple cones ftw.


    You'd be surprised what a larger turbo can do for your off-boost torque. A good sized exhaust wheel and housing opens things up a bit and gives you a little more oompf in the low rpm range. Granted my motor has 200k less miles than the EJ22E I pulled out for it, but the half point lower compression and hotter cams work against me off boost. The SOHC 2.2 heads (turbo or non) seems to lend themselves to very good off-boost drivability. I'm curious to see how my EJ25D heads affect my off-boost drivability coupled with a half point lower compression than where I am now. I'm at 8.5:1 right now and with the new heads I'll be around 8.0:1.



    Don't feel bad. I still kill my car occasionally with the Hyper Single.:hsugh:
     
  4. AWDimprezaL
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    AWDimprezaL has more posts than you

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    fantastic write up!!!
     
  5. Musashi
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    Musashi Well-Known Member

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    So I take it you didn't have any difficulty locating reverse? LOL Did you get a chance to do any sudden lane changes at various speeds?

    Stupendious review. I really enjoyed reading it. And soon you'll have an opportunity to write your own review about the same car at a track event. LOL

    Thanks,

    -Cheech
     
  6. Rexwagon
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    Rexwagon Well-Known Member

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    I second that, the hyper single still gets me once in a while
     
  7. prezawagon
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    prezawagon Well-Known Member

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    The first two times, I had a bit of trouble. Fuji watched me put the car into 6th and just kinda laughed at me, "That's not reverse." He still had the 5spd shift boot on the car, so it covered the reverse lockout ring. Once he showed me how to lift up the ring, then I was able to get it into reverse without much trouble.

    I didn't try any agressive manuevers on the street. Fuji warned me that the car could be a little tail-happy, so I took it fairly easy on cornering. The car was very responsive though. I could notice when I got back into my car that Fuji's was very quick to respond to steering input.

    Yeah, I'm looking forward to driving that beast on the track.
     
  8. ScandiaWRX
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    ScandiaWRX <font color="#f8467d">Rally Demi-goddess</font>

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    I think a day of RallyCross in M4 would be an entertaining test. :)
     
  9. prezawagon
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    prezawagon Well-Known Member

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    It would be interesting. His car does have great throttle response and spools quickly, as long as you are already above 3k rpm. So, stay in the right gear and it could be very quick on the rallycross course. His suspension would be a problem though, it's so stiff, the car would be bouncing around and not keeping the tires to the dirt as much as needed. I bet Fuji could make it around the course pretty fast though.

    It does look like I'll have an opportunity to drive Fuji's car on a track soon and compare with my car. I'll try to write something up on that.
     
  10. prezawagon
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    prezawagon Well-Known Member

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    Part 2: on the track.

    [​IMG]

    On Aug 31st I had a chance to drive Fuji's wagon on the test track at DCTC. I had spent the entire morning and most of the afternoon putting on some serious miles in my car on the track. So by the time I got into Fuji's car, I had become very comfortable with pushing my car close to its limit around the course.

    I first got to ride along for a few laps while Sheen (idget) drove. He gave me a few tips and warnings. The track has a 55mph speed limit, this wasn't a problem in my car, but I noticed Sheen getting up to that limit very fast in Fuji's. The other very noticable difference was the responsiveness of Fuji's car, turn in was nearly instant for example. The DCTC track is a bit rough in a few spots, and Fuji's car was stiff enough to have trouble keeping all the tires on the track at times and as a result had trouble delivering power. There was noticable wheel spin out of certain corners.

    After checking with Fuji, I got in the driver's seat. I think I said something like "ok, I'll drive, but I'm not gonna get into the boost on this track...", yeah, that didn't last long. The car carried momentum well around the turns, there was very little body roll and the tires hooked up well. The brakes were powerful, but a bit inconsistent when driven hard which meant that I was usually braking very early.

    After a lap or two, I starting getting on the throttle a bit harder coming out of some of the corners. Compared to an NA car, gear selection is very important if you want to exit a corner fast. Also, you really need to pay attention to how soon and how hard you get on the gas. In my car, I can just mash the gas pedal down as soon as I start to unwind the wheel and the power delivery is smooth and there are no problems. In contrast, in Fuji's car I got on the gas a bit too early in 3rd gear coming out of a high speed corner and very quickly the back end started to come out.

    The quick steering rack on Fuji's car felt perfect on the track, absolutely perfect. I'd say it's totally worth it if you spend much time at all on a track.

    The brembos had tons of stopping power, enough to get me in trouble locking up the front brakes if I wasn't careful. Fuji just needs to work out the kinks that are causing the inconsistent pedal travel and the brakes will be set.

    The transmission and clutch, again no complaints on the track. The only thing I noticed was that rev matching is a bit different on turbo vs na since the turbo engine was a bit slower to rev from low rpms, where my na is very responsive. It just takes a longer blip to get the rpm up.

    The suspension was a bit stiff for some parts of the track and was picking tires up at times (probably not when I was driving, but for other, faster drivers). But there was no body roll and the car was responsive.

    Again, I noticed the difference the most when I got back into my car. My brakes are underpowered and soft. The turn in on my car is noticably slower than on Fuji's car. And my all-season tires didn't have nearly the grip of his tires. The lack of power I can deal with, especially on a tight course, but improving my brakes, tightening up the steering a bit and better tires would make my car a lot quicker.

    Sheen suggested getting larger sway bars front and rear and looking into some cowl (fender) braces and maybe some whiteline steering bushings for my car. These are reasonably prices mods that I think would help a lot. I'm also planning on upgrading to RS brakes and SS lines and buying summer-only tires for next year.
     
  11. Musashi
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    Musashi Well-Known Member

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    So after having experienced the differences would you consider recommending this setup to anyone along with a neck brace? LOL Do you have any funny stories you can share when you were testing it at DCTC?
     
  12. prezawagon
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    prezawagon Well-Known Member

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    I think Fuji's car would be good (and a lot of fun) for an experienced driver, but for someone still learning, I think less hp is good. As Sheen said I think, in a high HP car you can get the tendency to drive a little sloppy and make up for it with boost. With less hp you really need to learn how to carry momentum around the track.

    I don't know of any funny stories, maybe just when I got on the gas a bit too early and the back end started to come around?
     
  13. Mike Wagner
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    Mike Wagner New Member

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    Great write up!!

    I will agree with you that all drivers should be required to drive a car with less hp and softer suspension to begin. You learn really bad habits driving a car that is way beyond your limits.

    I have seen many drivers in karting try and go straight to the shifter karts only to pick up bad habits. They all turn into "point and shot" drivers who know nothing about managing inertia.

    Thanks for the lesson
     
  14. boomer
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    boomer Well-Known Member

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    I took a ride with Fuji tonight and I can't wipe the smile off my face. First thing that blew me away was the launch control. Talk about violent acceleration:yumyum: The highway pulls when Fuji brake boosted were pretty amazing as well. I'm used to my td04 crapping out over 5.5k, but the black mamba just keeps pulling harder. I was impressed with the ride as well. Even with the wagon slammed it still had a pretty livable ride. Not caddy like by any stretch of the imagination but surprisingly compliant for what the car is capable of. Thanks for making my car feel really slow on the ride home Fuji.:laugh:
     
  15. PRA4SNO
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    PRA4SNO Well-Known Member

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    I think the next car you should compare is Dao's EJ33 driven L. I have a feeling the torque and powerband of that motor is PERFECT for a 55mph top speed track.

    plus for the money that swap sounds reasonable.
     

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