So you recently bought your WRX or STI, and you may have noticed that right out of the box it’s a very capable car. Now this feeling might last you for a few month, maybe even a year, but eventually you are going to get bored and want more. More power, better handling, and more noise. I have compiled a list of the best modifications for when you get that itch.
- This one is easy, a Cobb Accessport. This will be the base for all of your other modifications, and will give you a nice boost in power, torque, and fuel economy and takes all about 8 minutes to install. You won’t even get dirty! Now the peak power gained from just the Accessport is nothing to write home about, but you do get more power throughout the entire RPM range, not just a peak number. Not to mention the Accessport is arguably safer than the factory tune, which is why I give this my number one spot.
- Catted Downpipe/J-Pipe. Again, this one is an easy choice, with the Accessport now installed, you can easily install a catted downpipe, switch over to Stage 2 on your Accessport and you are tuned for the Downpipe. The power gains with the Downpipe are incredibly impressive with most people seeing about 40HP and 70TQ over stock, at the wheels. This will get that smile back on your face if you were getting bored of the stock power.
- Lowering Springs. Now that we have our power taken care of, and let’s be honest, most of us hunt for power first. We want the car to not only handle better, but also to look better as well. Lowering springs are an incredible cost effective solution for better handling and style. The Stock STI struts are pretty good and can handle a quality aftermarket spring with ease which will give you a sportier ride, lower center of gravity, improved handling and much better styling by reducing the massive stock wheel gap. This will transform the squishy STI into a much more robust and road hugging machine.
- Swaybars. This was a tough one for me as I wanted it in the number 3 spot, but once you take styling into account, the springs fit much better at number 3. But let’s talk about why swaybars are so critical. By going with a larger set of aftermarket swaybars, they greatly reduce the amount of body roll the car will have when going around a corner. This may not seem like much on paper, but once you install them on your car, you will be wondering why you did not do them sooner. The car’s handling will be vastly different, it will feel sharp and precise and inspire confidence in the driver as your overall grip will improve. As a benefit you won’t really notice them when you are just cruising, it is one of the very few suspension parts with no real compromise in ride quality.
- Brake Pads: Going fast and being able to handle is great, it truly is, but let’s not forget about one critical part of going fast, being able to bring your STI to a halt in a hurry. Now don’t think you need to go out and buy “race” type brake pads, you will hate yourself for it, and they really don’t work well on the street. Stoptech makes an amazing high performance pad called “Street Performance”, and in all honesty, they will take and smile at just about anything you can throw at them, short of hardcore track use. They work well on cold mornings, they work well on incredibly hot days when you’re flying through the canyons. They have an incredibly wide heat range and they do very well in all temps. The only downside is you might get a bit of brake noise and a bit of extra dust, but when your life may depend on having quality brakes, it’s well worth it.
- Lines and fluid. If you have already upgraded your brake pads, the next stress on the system will be the weak stock brake fluid. Going with a high performance brake fluid will allow you to push your brakes harder without the risk of boiling the fluid which is surprisingly easy to do, one hard track day and your stock fluid could be toast, so it’s always best to upgrade the fluid early so you don’t have to worry about it. Brake lines could be in a category of their own, however it is one of those upgrades you might as well do when you’re planning on changing out the brake fluid. The stainless steel lines will give you better braking feel and precision as well as higher strength and long life.
- Short throw shifter. Going with a good feeling shifter can make a world of difference in your car, not only in how well it shifts, but also the driving enjoyment overall. The installation is easy in most Subaru’s and a quality shifter can be acquired for a small amount of money as well. If you choose to go with an adjustable shifter, you will be able to control the exact amount of throw as well as the height as well. Regardless of what shifter you decide to go with, it will no doubt bring a smile to your face every time you drive the car.