Good to know what goes on behind the scenes. Generally from what i can see the fitments is pretty top notch. Not exactly OEM levels but it is by far the best i have seen from a third party.
Good to know what goes on behind the scenes. Generally from what i can see the fitments is pretty top notch. Not exactly OEM levels but it is by far the best i have seen from a third party.
So in between the three month of waiting for the Varis kit to actually get manufactured and shipped, i went and bought myself a NSX. It was a completely random purchase.
Without straying too far, the NSX put a different train of thought in my mind for a little while. I was so intoxicated with the way the NSX drove, it made my re-evaluate the BRZ. After driving the NSX for a little while, i realised that the BRZ was a new sports car made on a budget with emphasis on driving feel whilst the NSX was a sports car made with no budget in mind and aimed to be the best for it’s time.
With that in mind, i shifted my thinking a little for a while. I started thinking. Should i make the BRZ more sedate and just focus on the NSX instead? I started putting feelers out there for parting out everything except the coilovers/wheels and quickly had some takers on some of the parts. Parting out is annoyingly difficult though and when you are parting out high-tier parts such as a $3000 airbox’s, it becomes even more impossible. Ultimately the bodykit arrived and i had to make a decision. Was it go time or was it still part out time?
I decided on heading along my original path.
Simmering on my thoughts, i realised that i already have invested so much effort/time/$$ in what i did with the BRZ that i might as well just keep the setup the way it is. I will most likely keep the car for as long as possible and i know it is a future classic anyways so having quality parts installed isn’t much of an issue for me. The only way the car will come close to paying me back is if i get to enjoy the car as much as possible and as often as possible.
I took the car into Arise autobody as soon as the kit arrived and the BRZ went under the knife.
2 weeks later, it was ready. What a transformation. Honestly was super excited to see how the car turned out and it did not disappoint. A lot of mixed feelings when you do something like this and spend big bucks and ultimately there is the feeling that you can really fuck it all up but i think the BRZ is headed in the right direction.
The overall look of the BRZ is now gone. It is very much a 86. The keen eyed will be able to pickup the fender garnish/BRZ headlights and a subaru rear badge but short of looking into the interior, one would be hard pressed to note it is a BRZ. I miss this aspect of the car but i remind myself that it is only a front bumper swap away if i really really wanted to.
I would definitely say that it is an 86 on steroids. Definitely enough hint of the original 86 but just more aggressive at every angle. Which was what i originally aimed for. The TRD skirts matches nicely to both the Varis front bumper and rear bumper and the duckbill is nice and subtle as well. As expected, the bonnet adds an extra level of aggression and purpose which elevates it to a level beyond OEM bodied cars.
Immediately after i put the kit on though, i had to raise the car. It was impossible to drive around anywhere since the front bumper actually overhangs a fair bit more than the stock BRZ number. The front bumper definitely makes the car a little more troublesome to drive around everywhere but once you know a route, it is generally ok. I would have liked for the car to be a little more drivable everywhere but such is the compromise (i reckon the Cleib BRZ setup would be a lot more practical in this regard). I lifted the car around 2cm’s front and back and the rear is probably a little higher than i wanted. I did want to raise the car overall anyway’s as the setup didn’t feel quite so good at the last track day but height/camber and other suspension related things will be an ongoing evolution.
One of the aspects i would like to improve is the wheel track/camber of the setup. The wheel setup is about 70-80% there. It needs more camber, more track to look right. Especially with the new front bumper/lip which sticks out a fair bit at the front. Overall though i am quite happy with the way the car is ATM and look forward to “evolutionary” changes in the future. I have already purchased an always on DRL kit from Diode Dynamics so will have the ricey DRL’s back shortly.
Since the last mods was added (Revolution X GruppeM intake), the car was left the same for about 40 weeks. I drove it around everyday and generally enjoyed it. Everything seemed to work fine but i knew it was time to work on the aesthetics of the car a little more.
I had a couple of guidelines i wanted to follow when it came to aero choices though.
Originally i purchased the BRZ for a variety of reasons. The front bumper/look was one of the main reasons. I really love the way the BRZ front bumper is styled. Super simple, elegant and we all know that a BRZ with a STI lip (or really any lip) is a default tuning option. It is like the no brainer choice for modifying any Subaru cars. Wack on a STI lip and be done with it. One of my initial options and something that i still love is the Cleib setup.
I actually blogged this same car a few years ago and said this is exactly how i would have my BRZ. A simple setup with just the Cleib front lip/Cleib side skirts/Varis bonnet. It looks amazing and it compliments the looks of the BRZ very well. If there was one hero tuner BRZ out there, it would be the Cleib BRZ.
My second option was something i spotted out of HyperRev. It was the Original Runduce 86 that was sporting the full Varis Arising II kit. What made this one different was the inclusion of the wide lip. Till date, the Original Runduce is the only car i know of that runs this setup. I don’t know why but when i saw it i knew that it was one of the best setup’s i have seen for the 86/BRZ platform. In some ways, it also builds upon the original lines/bumpers of the 86 but just makes it a lot more aggressive. The rear bumper setup was also a highlight with an integrated diffuser piece along with cut out air vents on the side which i was a big fan of. For sure more aggressive but still tasteful. The sideskirts though, i just couldn’t get past. They just looked way too messy to me.
I was pretty torn between these two setup’s. The biggest problem to me is that i would be losing the BRZ identity going over to the Runduce setup. It would very much be a 86 and it would almost lose all identity of it until people in the know look closer at the fender garnish or interior of the car. If anything though i decided that having a vented bonnet on a car instantly makes it tougher regardless of what other aero is on the car. Choosing the rear spoiler was a little easier. I decided that i was out of budget for a CSL style trunk like the pleasure racing and retaining the OEM trunk allows me option to bolt on a wing for more serious track work later on down the track if needed. That and the TRD oem wing is pretty cheap any ways.
In between considering price/functionality/drive-ability, it did my head in and i originally submitted an order for the Cleib setup. I put in the Cleib order and then couldn’t stop thinking about the Runduce setup. I knew that i wanted to just get it right the first time and order what i really wanted so after 1-2 days i cancelled the Cleib order and i put in a Varis order instead. Looking back now, i probably would have being happy with both setup. They both have their pluses and con’s and typical of modifying any car, it is all about compromises.
After the brake kit was installed i veered off some performance mod’s and decided to address a shortcoming which my BRZ always had. The stereo system. I never optioned for a dual din stereo upgrade from factory so i had being running the stock cd system which was pretty bad. Luckily it had a USB option so i didn’t have to burn my own DVD’s in this day and age but downloading songs was getting OLD … and i mean really old. Some of the songs on the USB were needing a refresher to say the least. I thought it was time to introduce a new double din into the BRZ and started doing some research. At this point in time, i had gotten off Android and was on iOS and i heard this new thing coming called Carplay. It had being rumored/launched for a while now but was only available in factory cars such as Ferraris but around this time, pioneer started offering Carplay compatible head units as well. I purchased a SPH-DA120 or otherwise known as Appradio 4 and proceeded to install it. Bad mistake. The bracket mount which was sitting in my car for the standard stereo was not made for proper dual din. So i had to go ahead and order a set of brackets off ebay which ended up costing quite a bit. Once i had the bracket, everything went in pretty easily.
Never tried soldering myself but for this setup, i decided to buy a solder and solder up all the cables/wiring myself. Happy to say that even though the job wasn’t the cleanest, i completed the job and it is still operating fine. There seems to be some issues with the rear speakers where they cant have too much volume through it before they start hissing so i had to tune the EQ to have majority front bias. Maybe it is a wiring issue? Or maybe it is just needing some proper rear speakers? Probably will take it down to a stereo specailist for them to have a laugh at my soldering job and see if they can fix it. I would really like better audio in this car that is for sure. Carplay works great. Just with Apple music and not Spotify. Fire up Apple music and it plays flawless every time. Fire up Spotify and there is 1 in 5 chance that it will not play and you have to go close the app on your phone and unplug the cable and all that jazz. I don’t know if Spotify just cant get their shit together or Apple is purposely sabotaging their app to sway customers to Apple music? In any case it is nice to be able to listen to music not stored on a USB stick for a change.
Another few weeks after that, i received something i ordered directly from Garage Revolution in Japan. It was something, that once again, like the amuse exhaust made no sense in-terms of dollar value. It was a product that was exclusive/luxury and not much i can say will change that fact. When you are forking out close to the same amount of money as a complete supercharger kit on a single intake, you can’t really justify it in any way. I just wanted it and i got it. To be slightly empathetic though, it does come with a throttle body kit and the price on that is significant if you were to buy separately.
If you did not guess already, i am running the Revolution X GruppeM intake system on my BRZ. It is a design that is collaborated between Revolution and GruppeM and like any other GruppeM intake it employs plenty of carbon. Dual scoops flow down to the front bumper openings and then direct it into a massive carbon airbox before being sucked through the shortest piping into the throttle body. It is generally assumed that the 86/BRZ stock intake box is already pretty decent and not much improvement can be gained from it but even without trying the Revolution intake system, one could understand/appreciate the design on it and wouldn’t second guess the additional power it would/could make. So was it worth it? IMO Yes. Is it supercharger money worth it? Obviously not, but it has it’s charms. Let me explain.
During the installation of this product, it was obvious how much thought had gone into the design of the product. Garage Revolution and GruppeM really spent some coin in developing this product and you get the feeling that they tried to squeeze everything they could from the design limitations of the engine bay setup whilst satisfying a lot of other factors important to a performing intake system.
The first couple of drives after the system was installed left me with no doubt that the car was behaving very differently. The throttle body is a bigger bored unit and as such the AF ratio was off and the throttle on idle was erratic at best. Still, it was obvious that the car gained massive throttle response first and foremost. Secondly the car was a lot more willing across the full rev range to pickup RPM. I remember thinking to myself once again that the engine response is so much better i would have paid to gain the response alone even without additional power. Alas, after a rolling street reflash/tune of my ECU the car has netted even more of that response but now with a healthy does of top end power. I don’t have dyno to prove it but it definitely pulls all the way to redline where as previously, the car would taper off close to redline. The response is so much improved that driving around slowly now becomes a little bit more challenging due to the more responsive throttle. As an aside, a Japanese owner dyno’ed the box and he noticed that intake temps dropped around 15 degrees with the Revolution setup in place in similar ambient conditions. Someone on FT86 forum’s dynoed his setup (without the throttle body) and got results with about 10whp additional and some added torque across the power curve as well.
There is still some work to do though. I feel like the street tune is just the first piece of the puzzle. A proper dyno tune will unlock the true potential of my setup. It feels like it is 70-80% there but it could be still improved quite significantly.
With the suspension/wheels done, it wasn’t long until i started looking at options to extract a little more power. (edit::actual order of mods was coilovers–>amuse exhaust–>advan TC3)
But before that, i managed to talk myself into getting a lightweight lithium battery. Found it as the TRD Griffon utilised the same Shorai battery and the weight savings were very significant. Something to the tune of around 11-12kg’s. That is a massive saving when you think about it. I purchased a kit made by KC Machine which was made to a very high quality and the kit fit in perfect along with the supplied Shorai battery. However, just after a 1 week holiday, the car ran flat. I had thought the battery would be able to last for such a period but apparently not. Even after jumping the battery up again, it never held charge quite the same. After 3 consecutive days of not starting it up, it is flat again. I believe irreversible damage has already occurred so i chucked in the OEM batt once again. Not willing to sacrifice 11kg’s for something that needs to be on a trickle charger if i am away for a holiday. Later on down the track i might reinvestigate in a higher rated shorai batt. Hopefully one that can still take the same KC Machine’s battery tray because it really is a beautiful piece.
One of those mods that i tried and didn’t work and reverted back to stock.
Onto power. Have you seen the hyper rev magazines available for the 86/brz? It is chunky editions with a million options. If choosing the suspension was hard. Choosing the exhaust system was literally a mind fuck. There were so many options available. On top of the JDM options, there were plenty of (good) american options as well. Tomei, Fujitsubo, HKS, Amuse, Perrin, TRD, Greddy, Etc etc
Ultimately at the end of the day i did a Jing thing and purchased one of the best exhausts i can get. Best not as in the best power gain or best sound but rather best in the meaning of luxury and exclusivity. I have to admit. I always wanted an Amuse exhaust and it might as well have being this car. It makes no sense to spend a entire IHE system’s cost onto a single exhaust but i did it all the same. I wanted to and i could and i did. Sometimes i find it easier to just satisfy my curiosity and move on rather then pondering how it could have being. As it turns out. It probably wasn’t worth the money and if i had the option to do it again, i would most likely not have gone down this path. But i had to go down this path once.
It doesn’t even sound that exciting to be honest. I remember first firing up the car at IXA garage and thinking “is that it?” At the end of the day i think it is quite a dailyable exhaust with a resonated design that isn’t too loud but it certainly isn’t the oral symphony that is the amuse exhaust bolted up to a Z-series. That however comes down to engine more than anything else. The FA20 engine just doesn’t sound that ….. exciting. The system is light and drops a significant chunk of weight over the stock system and it looks awesome. I guess that’s where my money went. I keep telling myself that the weight saving is pretty awesome but who am i kidding. It wasn’t worth the money for the gains that it provided. This is a luxury item for sure. At least there are plenty of people wanting the exhaust if i do decide to sell later on down the track (more on that later). Did it improve performance by just having the exhaust by itself? Nope. No difference that i could tell at all. Still, look at dem welds. Every car enthusiast should own a set of titanium exhaust in their life. If only just once.
What followed in the next week or two was the finalisation on the rest of the exhaust. From piecing together info here and there, i went down the path of a HKS extractor/front pipe combo along with a invida overpipe. There were three conditions i had. It had to be equal length. I wanted to have a cat on exhaust and also i wanted my front pipe with a resonator as well. There were only two systems which offered this. One was the revolution setup and one was the HKS super manifold R-spec. I decided on the HKS super manifold after comparing prices and favourable dyno’s from some forum members. I got the system installed by JDMYARD and drove off with the car having just the extract/overpipe/frontpipe and catback exhaust and this time i definitely noticed the difference.
If the amuse did nothing, the extractor definitely did a lot. I am not sure if it was just the extractors or a combo of both but the extractors smoothed out the torque dip and made it a lot easier and enjoyable to drive around at an easy pace. In line with what dyno’s i was seeing. Sound wise it made it a little less droney and a little more raspy. I always though TI exhausts were meant to be quite dry/raspy but the amuse never really was. After the extractor setup though i did start noticing a little more raspyness in the tone, even if slightly. The extractors were worth it then. Not sure how it would compare to other extractors that are much cheaper like the Tomei and then going for a MXP or Invidia front pipe but it was probably as good as you can do for a NA setup that had a cat on board. i am sure without a cat or resonator you can squeeze out some more power.
One thing i should have done and might do later on down the track is take it all apart and heat wrap it. Car gets pretty hot and i am sure the thin TI exhaust doesn’t help.
With the exhaust setup done and dusted, i awaited the arrival of my brake kit. Once again, i did plenty of research and the most prominent choice by far was the essex competition ap racing kit. It was cheap (in the states at least) @ $1900ish but that pricing didnt really translate across to Aus pricing. Over here it was a fair bit more. I did some more looking around and decided why not try something different. Something that didn’t have the tried and tested base that the essex kit had but was a household name in JDM culture. My reasoning is how bad can a endless brake kit be? Surely it would be plenty awesome being endless correct? Yes and No.
This one is a little bit more of a mixed bag. I am over the fence on whether the money was worth it or not. Aesthetics wise, it was worth it. Performance wise it is harder to split. On track, the stock brakes gave you maybe 2 laps or less of decent braking before going to crap for the remaining lifespan of the fluid in the system. The pads glazed over and generally it isn’t up to the job of hammering out lap after lap. On this front the endless certainly delivers. Have being out for 7-10 laps at a time and have not experienced any fade what-so-ever. It definitely did it’s job. On the front of out-right power/brake feel i am less convinced. This could be because i went for a fairly street compound pad in the MX72 or maybe the break in procedure was not followed perfectly. Either way i am not 100% sure but after installing the brake kit, i didn’t find the pedal feel to improve nor did i find initial bite/outright bite to be that much better as well.
How much of it is brake pad and how much of it is the break in procedure i will never know. I think when i next revisit the brake setup, i will finish up the rear (rear is currently on stock pads/rotors) and then maybe re-look at a different set of pads/reface the rotors and bed it in properly.
Next on the agenda is probably the most significant difference. Suspension and wheels. Wheels maketh the car and the standard wheels are horrid. Obviously it had to be replaced. Spent way too much time deciding what setup to go with and researching offset’s and width but finally settled on TCIII’s. I saw them first IRL on JDMYARD’s DC5 (my old dc5) and loved it. Quite a bit of concavity and not completely black which provides a little more depth. What really sold me is picture of the carshopglow RX7 getting loaded onto/off a trailer. That and Pboi’s S2000 shod on TC3’s as well. Definitely inspired.
Next was choosing the suspension setup. I knew i wanted something soft to retain daily driving duties but also something that could do 3-4 track days in a year. I considered everything from Ohlins to Zeal to MCA Blues and at the end of the day it came very close to MCA Blue’s and HKS Hipermax IV GT’s.
The GT’s had a spring rate of 6F/4R which by default should give a decent ride and the rear was swappable to 6kg without re-valving the shock should i need to. I stuck firm on the GT’s rather than the SP’s (higher spring rated versions) because i absolutely wanted the comfort for daily driving and after first installing it i was pleasantly surprised with my choice. In fact it felt close to stock but with better damper control over certain bump situations. Where previously the body control would be a little unstable over high speed bumps, now it seems much more controlled ie expansion joints on highways mid corner. Low speed bumps is a little worse than stock but nothing that terrible. Overall i felt like it wasn’t much of a compromise in-terms of what i have gained. I actually tried the car over two different height settings and it was a little bouncier as soon as i lowered the car even more but i am about to raise the car up so it should become even comfier.
So all installed together, how did it look? I remember when i first bolted on the wheels. The improvements were like day and night. So much better. I remembered thinking that this is how a 86/BRZ should have come from factory.
I had the TC3’s shod in RS-3’s and they feel super grippy. However, if i were to do it again, i might purposely go for a slightly less grippy tyre so i can enjoy it a little more on track. At the current level with 245 tyres squared, i find it pretty hard to break out the rear in anything but wet conditions. Even when provoked purposely on track, it still sticks pretty hard. Something less grippy will make it a little bit more fun i reckon.
I read back on my own blog and i realise that it very much is written for me, by me. It is always interesting to take a glimpse into how i thought 6 month or 1 year prior. Looking back at my BRZ posts below, i can now see that i have done a (maybe not so unpredictable) round about on my initial plan.
Let me explain.
So after the last post the mods PILED on. Jing style of course.
I started doing little mods like foggy delete and shift knobs and tom’s rear lights in my previous post but soon after that, i broke the 1:14:xx time at wakefield which would allow me to get some performance mods in place. Previously i said to myself that no mod’s that would affect the performance of the BRZ is allowed until i reach this target time. I reached it on my 2nd outing at wakefield…..
So what came next? My memory is a little hazy but it went something like this. I started sorting out the interior of the BRZ. I thought, if i am to spend so long in the car, i might as well treat myself to a better looking interior. I didn’t have to look far for my inspiration as Subaru released a BRZ STI TS version over in japan. One of the many cosmetic updates that was bestowed on this limited edition was black interior trimming. I looked at the pictures and i knew it would be the right choice. It is OEM. It was relatively cheap. It looked classy but not so classy that it looks like it should be in something double the price. I have seen alcantara trims from certain brands and whilst no doubt it looked great, i just didn’t want to make the interior of the brz something that pretended to be more exotic. It is a cheap/simple sports car and i wanted to keep the concept the same.
Overall, i felt it was so much better than the silver oem trimming. The steering silver trim got changed to black as well soon after the picture too. The dash trim piece had a faux carbon-esque pattern on it that didn’t look like it was trying too hard to be actual carbon and everything had OEM fitments. I enjoyed doing this upgrade as it allowed me to get a little more intimate with the car as well and i now know how to pull the whole dash apart along with the centre console/transmission tunnel cover.
Together with this order, i also purchased a TRD short shift kit and some revolution wide rear mirrors and TRD door stabiliser. The latter two which is still sitting un-installed for some reason. Once again i fitted the shoft shift by myself and that was quite the fun as well getting to know how it all went together. Most memorable moment was the fact that i started this DIY towards dinner time for whatever reasons and as it was getting dark everything was just impossibly hard. I lost the pin that held the linkage together at one point and thought i was screwed but decided to call it quits at night and came out next morning and low and behold, found it on the ground underneath the car. Phew.
Start a project that needs light at the start of a day and if you run into problems, think objectively rather than push through and cause more damage.
Just realised that i have built up a new bike without documenting it here. Blasphemy!
I guess we can do this backwards. Recently, i have changed from my long standing tradition of using continental tyres and switched to michelin tyres. It was partly onset by an article i read on pro’s using only 25cc now. Then wiggle had a special on michelin pro 4’s so i decided to get a pair.
Spent a good amount of time getting it on the lightweights. It was super tight to say the least and the profile at first wasn’t that much fatter. I think that is to do with lightweights pretty oldschool narrow rim design vs the new rims from enve and zipp’s. Regardless, i got it on and went for a spin and to my surprise, there was some awful rubbing sounds. Finally i found out that the tyre was rubbing on the rear brakes. That obviously meant the tyres ballooned out a little more and had a taller profile. Adjusted the brakes accordingly and went for a spin.
Fast forward to first ride on the tyres. Surprised instantly at how much smoother they are vs the old gp4000’s. They just seemed to roll better and better. Further to that, they feel super grippy on turn in. I used to get this weird understeery feeling in the wet going down some mountains on the sl4. I have heard this was an issue with the smaller sl4 frames but it will be good to see if these tyres counteract that. They are definitely by all parts better than the gp4000’s so far. Only thing that isnt proven is the puncture proofing aspect. That, only time can tell i guess?
I will document the sl4 build shortly. It is by far the slickest bike i have put together and have a lot of little things i am quite proud of. The bike weighs sub 6kg and runs on clincher wheelsets.
So after the DC5 which i lost interest in by potentially modifying it too much, i set about asking myself what i wanted to do with the BRZ. Well for one from the impressions i gathered, i wanted the car to remain as useable as possible. I wanted to have no hesitation in driving the car out and for that to happen the car has to be drivable everywhere. I knew straight away at that point that even if i was to mod the BRZ it would be very light mods for the fear of it ruining the greatness of the car in it’s stock form.
I also wanted to track again. On the DC5 i piled on the mods and never really did experience the car in it’s stock form. Of course a modified car is always harder to drive vs a stock one, so this time around, i set a rule for performance orientated mods.
I said to myself that basically no mods that would change the lap time of the BRZ would be allowed until i hit a certain time at wakefield. I researched around on what a good baseline time was and found that John Boston did a 1:14:17 in a stock stock trim 86. It was actually very hard to find baseline times on the car and either people are not noting it down on the internet or they never tracked the car in stock form.
As such i set myself a time of 1:14:xx prior to doing any performance mods. This way i can learn how the car handles in it’s stock form and also know specifically what it’s short comings are and how best to improve it. I knew it was going to be hard though as John Boston is a professional driver who does what he does for a living.
I set a cheat for myself though by saying “performance” mods so i was free to do little things.
Immediately i replaced the stock shift knob for a better and understated moonface aluminium shift knob. I actually spent way too much time researching exactly which shift knob i wanted but finally decided on this one. Only downside is the finish is quite slippery but i found that you will only really slip when you are not paying attention. During spirited driving or circuit, i have never slipped.
JDMyard also installed red lens Tom’s taillights for me as well. My god what a difference these lights make. I don’t classify this as a mod as it should have come from the factory in the first place! Added bonus is it matches the front of the BRZ lights very well. Audiesque LED lighting.
Also noticed that a lot of the US BRZ’s looked better and after close inspection it was because foglights are an option over there. So whilst many of the US guys were acquiring “JDM foggies”i was trying to research what the part number was to delete the fog lights. After much research and confirmation, found the part number and placed the order on some subaru parts website in US and $20 bucks later i had the grill panels which suited cars without fog lights. Installed it myself in 30 minutes and marvelled at what a difference it makes. It is always the little things and in this case it was super cheap as well.
These are the only “mods” i have carried out on the BRZ for now.