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Old 04-16-2003, 10:52 PM   #1
shirokuma
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Default JDM STi drive - actual production car

Got a chance to drive an actual production STi last night (JDM spec) thanks to a friend that was willing to let my slightly abuse it. We did some runs in it on my favorite road course, a section of road that is entirely made up of curves, you'll never get out of 3rd in the STi, other than one or two short straights. I know it like the back of my hand, which is useful when driving a car to get a feel for it's handling. The other vehicle was a built-up B4 Legacy that is a ways from stock.

It was really good to get into a non-press car, it is always illuminating to find out what the actual consumer gets in the end. Surprisingly enough, the engine felt all there compared to the cars I drove at Fuji Speedway. Very strong, very torquey throughout the entire rpm range. Low-end is tremendous for a 2.0-litre, STi really went through this engine and produced an absolute gem, probably their best engine ever, bar the 22b 2.2-litre. Even then, I think for a stock setup this is possibly the best they've ever made. Another 500cc's of displacement for Americans along with AVCS will more than make up for the lack of twin-scroll, especially with the low-end difference that much displacement entails.

The 6-speed is the same as before, whether you want to call it notchy or mechanical in feel, it's no uber-smooth Honda unit. Given the power that it is routing around to 4 wheels, I'm not surprised. OTOH, I had no problem getting into any gear at any time, so while it may lack smoothness, there's no problems finding the right gear and shifting. Once you become familiar with it the feel becomes rather reassuring, feedback that there is some strength to this tranny.

The balance of the car is amazing. Bloody amazing. You'll need some real guts and experience to push it anywhere near it's limits. In fact, getting to it's actual limits is a rather daunting task, because they are so high that even at the track, you'll be going a lot quicker than you are used to. While standard 070's certainly help, the fact that the rear end is so much more stable than past Subaru's really helps you get the job done. Where the B4 had to be left-foot braked and finessed around corners at 80-90kmph, I was literally cruising in the STi at those same speeds or even a little more, and certainly had some headroom left. It's very chuckable if you like to do that. The new setup and turn-in eliminate that need if you want to drive it smooth, it will turn-in quite well and just plain goes where you want it to. Once again, I felt no need to leave the DCCD in anything but automatic mode, it just plain works. When working the tyres a bit the handling front to rear is very neutral with little understeer. This was a standard STi, not a Spec C RA, which means less turn-in than the Spec C. However, it did reinforce my impression that the standard STi setup may be a bit better for on-the-road driving, away from the track. Given the incredible performance of the car a little bit of a safety margin was nice, especially if you needed to hammer the brakes mid-corner.

That brings me to the one area that does not measure up with the press cars. Brakes. When properly set up, they are more than adequete. They brought me down from 100+mph speeds at Fuji Speedway without drama. There was little, if no fade in them there. Great stuff. But not something you get on the actual car that you buy from the dealer. Just trying to keep up with me on one run through the "course" resulted in massive brake fade for the STi. The B4 Legacy non-stock setup (4-pot calipers, DBA rotors, metal lines, 4.5 fluid and semi-carbon pads) was absolutely rocking for brakes, even when left foot braking through the entire course, but the STi on the stock Brembo setup was not. While the pads/rotors probably became glazed early on, the fluid and lines were also not up to snuff. This won't effect most owners, but for the enthusiasts out there that do courses with a lot of braking, mesh lines, fluid and possibly better pads are a necessity. This is why I was glad to test a production car rather than a press car, for while the press car may have had the pads and rotors bedded in better, the fluid and lines were simply better than what the consumer recieves. I would hope that the American market STi would get better, but I doubt it. Something to remember, though, is that my driving will not reflect what 90% or more of STi owners will ever do, even at the track.

All in all, a complete work of art, with only a minor niggle about braking. STi has really got the entire package working in one symphony of ferocious motion. And I solved the problem with the brakes early on, by simply not using them.

Cheers,

Paul Hansen
www.apexjapan.com
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Old 04-16-2003, 11:26 PM   #2
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great review thanks ! I cant wait to hear the review of the US 2.5 liter.
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Old 04-17-2003, 12:02 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by CRex
great review thanks ! I cant wait to hear the review of the US 2.5 liter.
unless he comes to the states to visit with the unknown, unnamed, furry-faced (or was he clean shaven last weekend, I forget) tester, Paul is going to have to make do with comments from his American brothers of the pen on the performance of the 2.5l US STi.

I wonder if the brakes on the press cars might have been running higher temp fluid or more agressive pads as well, but the Brembos look like they're easy enough to swap pads on, so no worries other than cleaning off all those spokes on the wheels...



Ben
agrees with aforementioned tester about 1st & 2nd gear - they do go by quick.
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Old 04-17-2003, 01:34 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by m ben
I wonder if the brakes on the press cars might have been running higher temp fluid or more agressive pads as well, but the Brembos look like they're easy enough to swap pads on, so no worries other than cleaning off all those spokes on the wheels...
Yeah, even the older 4-pots are a snap to change brake pads on. I'm not exactly sure what STi ran at Fuji Speedway, though I probably should have checked. Technically, you can order your STi with mesh brake lines from a dealer (they are an option), so they may have just gone ahead and did that for our press cars. That plus some better brake fluid would have probably done it. The friend's car probably had glazed pads/rotors - trying to keep up with that B4 beast on a barely broken in STi's braking system would do it - I've outbraked Modena's in that B4 with pads that didn't grip as well as the current set!

I hate to say it, but I'm becoming a left-foot braking slut lately. Well, I'm using my right foot for double-duty, which is bad, but it's hard to get the left foot to the brake on the Subaru's with the pedal setup. I must say, it's worth learning. It isn't actually the fastest way through the corner, but it gives you a giant (relatively) margin for recovery when getting used to either new corners or a new car. And then once you've gotten used to the corner, you can go back to balancing the car properly with just the throttle since you've gotten an idea of the correct apex, entry/exit speed and throttle position to use.

Cheers,

Paul Hansen
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Old 04-17-2003, 05:50 AM   #5
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Thanks for the review. Its too bad that the JDM STi brakes my be a little weak. At least its an easy fix to put new brake lines, fluid and pads. It would be nice to have a car that is just perfect right out of the box.
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Old 04-17-2003, 08:44 AM   #6
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Excellent review Paul. We always look forward to your input and professional writing. BTW, what line of work are you in? Auto journalists? Which company? Just wondering.

Cheers,

Davis
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Old 04-17-2003, 11:29 AM   #7
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Paul,

Thanks for the information. It is nice to have people on this board with access that are willing to share. The lines and fluid are going to be my first mod. I'll see how the pads do with proper bedding. Hopefully the rotors will not be a problem as some have seen on the EVO. I know both the EVO and STi both have Brembo calipers. Do you know if the rotors are from the same manufacturer? If they are also from Brembo, do you know if they are of simular types? Thanks again for the information.
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Old 04-17-2003, 11:57 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Davis K Powers
Excellent review Paul. We always look forward to your input and professional writing. BTW, what line of work are you in? Auto journalists? Which company? Just wondering.

Cheers,

Davis
IIRC Paul is the senior editor of apex japan. Apex is a web site and also a magazine IIRC and IMHO he is one of the best source for first hand information on this board. just check out his web site and you will know what i mean.apex japan
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Old 04-17-2003, 01:15 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by mr. blonde


IIRC Paul is the senior editor of apex japan. Apex is a web site and also a magazine IIRC and IMHO he is one of the best source for first hand information on this board. just check out his web site and you will know what i mean.apex japan
Mucho thanko. I knew that he wrote for apexjapan but actually didn't really know what IT was, website, magazine other... thanks for the clarification. good stuff

Cheers,

Davis
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Old 04-17-2003, 01:23 PM   #10
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not a problem
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Old 04-17-2003, 02:49 PM   #11
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paul is my hero
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Old 04-17-2003, 10:56 PM   #12
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Default Electronic Brake force distribution.......

Dr. Paul,..did the JDM STI have the EBFD brakes ? I work for Mercedes Benz and several of our models have this feature. The only way to bleed the brakes (on the MB) is by using the laptop and this special bleeder from MB. This process takes 1 hour and uses 5 gallons of fluid.

Hopefully this isnt reality with this type of system and just a shortcoming of the new technology that MB started designing around 4 years ago. It's all Bosch technology and if I'm correct the new "Sport ABS" that the U.S. STI is coming with was designed by Bosch and sold to Fuji Heavy Industries.

Help me with this Paul, I would hate to have to spend $ 500.00 changing over to Castrol SRF fluid !!

On another related topic,.perhaps you can elaborate on this theory. I have always heard of road racers ( the few that run AWD cars) setting the cars up to have the front diff "pull" you through a corner, since most AWD cars "push" anyway, meaning one would have to be on the gas to get through a good corner. When you drive the JDM STI, do you feel the Suretrac front diff working and if so, to what degree.

And could you speak of what if felt like to set the DCCD in the 65% rear setting when carrying alot of brakes into a corner ( trail throttle braking)and ....................
If the press cars had , lines, fluid, and pads, wouldnt one think that they even had ,..say 1.0- 2.0 negative camber in the front, which I know for a fact, really helps a "ALK" work wonders.

After watching several videos of the spec-c type ra ,..one around the Nurb (on STI's website) and the other is unknown,..I am really wondering the difference between the shocks and springs on the Spec-c type RA,..?

OK, so I saved all those questions for you Paul ,..please help so I can start ordering now , since it'll take 1 month to go from Japan to Canada and to me for some of the parts.

thanks,.

944 turbo guy.
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Old 04-18-2003, 12:29 AM   #13
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ahh
i just wanted to know if it KICKED AZZ or not
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Old 04-18-2003, 12:56 AM   #14
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Default Re: Electronic Brake force distribution.......

I've heard no horror stories about brake fluid changes so far, even though they do have the same "sport ABS" setup here. In fact, the car I drove is getting lines and brake fluid very very soon, for some reason.

The press cars and the car I drove were similar for turn in and handling. I don't think the press cars had any changes there. As far as I can tell, the only real difference was in the braking, and that's in relation to fade mainly. Given that terrorists, I mean, auto journalists were going to be hammering the press cars around fuji speedway all day long, for 2 days straight, would justify them upgrading at least the fluid and lines. But the amount of fade on that stock car wasn't too great - but then, they had been pre-faded before I touched it. So I'm trying to judge something without knowing exactly how the person before me killed them off.

Front diff's are indeed the way to go. Without a front diff, the car will understeer under power in the corner with too much throttle, unless it's set up reallly well. The front diff makes a big difference though, and it's very noticeable. Balancing the car on the throttle while mid-corner is much easier with a front diff, you can feel the fact that the inside front tyre is taking up a closer load in relation to the outside front tyre. With no front diff (B4, for example), the outside tyre has to work really hard, unless you really find the balance for the car, or left foot brake a lot.

The cars feel wonderfully balanced no matter the setting on the DCCD-A, but it simply feels much better balanced in the automatic setting. Even the friend with the STi admitted that - his previous car was a STi IV coupe RA with the DCCD, and he always drove that with 35/65 setting. He has gladly stayed in automatic mode, works much better all around. It tends to reduce extremes in handling, whether understeer or oversteer, without feeling overly intrusive. I say that because if you've gone far enough, it lets you do what you want.

The difference that I'm trying to explain here is one of intent. Many of the stability systems, if not all of them, work at doing one thing - keeping you from going out of control. They are safety systems. The AYC on the Evo is aptly named, and commonly misunderstood. It's Anti-Yaw Control. It is there to keep you from drifting. People think it's a performance aid because it allows non-professional drivers to get over the limits of the car and not suffer for it. However, it just slows down drivers that do know what they are doing, because it interferes when you are trying to get a little (or a lot) of drift. The ACD system is a performance aid, but from some people's explanations, it's not much of one for them because it simply doesn't react as fast as promised, which again, is a bane for an experienced driver.

The DCCD-A system is more performance than safety oriented. If you want to get sideways, it easily allows you to do so. It's purpose is to help out a bit, but it just concentrates on adjusting your line than anything else. As far as I can tell, it's more mechanical than electronic, which may be why I feel it works so well - for me.

Cheers,

Paul Hansen
www.apexjapan.com
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Old 04-18-2003, 04:35 AM   #15
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Paul,
you say that the extra 500cc will make up for the lack of a twin scroll turbo setup. Do you think there would be any plusses for the STi to be a 2.5L with a twin scroll turbo?
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Old 04-18-2003, 05:22 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by pio!pio!
Paul,
you say that the extra 500cc will make up for the lack of a twin scroll turbo setup. Do you think there would be any plusses for the STi to be a 2.5L with a twin scroll turbo?
Oh yeah, it would make even more low-end torque - maybe. Talked with tuner about the twin-scrolls, though, and his opinion is that a good standard turbo setup is about as good, if properly set up.

I sense that most people believe that the twin-scroll turbo unit is the lone reason the JDM Sti makes more low-end power. That is simply not true! It is part of the equation, but there are other factors that are just as important, if not more important.

One of those is the AVCS system, which was revamped for all new Subaru's in Japan. The other is the new exhaust system. Then there's the extractors aft of the turbo. All of these contribute.

I think the point behind the twin-scroll is it's operating range. It is able to deliver pressure over a rather wide rpm range, from down low to way up high, up in the 8000rpm area and down in the 1500rpm area. A standard turbo unit, such as on the WRX turbo in Japan, may not be as efficient over such a large range, but it doesn't mean it won't work well in the range it's designed for. The WRX turbo in Japan actually delivers as much, or more torque than the twin-scroll STi does in the 1500-2500rpm area. It just doesn't deliver much power when you get a lot higher.

The USDM STi has a shorter rpm range than the JDM STi. Since it's only spinning to 7000rpm, Subaru may have decided that a standard turbo setup is actually better and more cost effective. And the people itching to modify their STi's are going to be happier with the standard setup instead of the twin-scroll - there are far fewer twin-scroll upgrades than standard upgrades.

Cheers,

Paul Hansen
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Old 04-18-2003, 10:15 AM   #17
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Default shirokuma

Quick question: On the car that you drove, would it be possible to create large amounts of understeer by trying to accelerate into a turn? I know its a wierd senario, but Im just wondering how good (upper limit) that front LSD really is. Thanks
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Old 04-18-2003, 07:47 PM   #18
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Default Re: shirokuma

Quote:
Originally posted by PeterJ
Quick question: On the car that you drove, would it be possible to create large amounts of understeer by trying to accelerate into a turn? I know its a wierd senario, but Im just wondering how good (upper limit) that front LSD really is. Thanks
Isn't that usually the definition of understeer?

It has a touch of understeer when accelerating into a corner - if you are asking about full-throttle acceleration, what happens is entirely dependent upon the angle into the corner, the camber of the corner and the speed entering the corner. Too fast and it's going to have an initial moment of light understeer which will transition to oversteer.

Cheers,

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Old 04-18-2003, 08:26 PM   #19
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Hey paul,

Outside of the difference in diameter, do you know if the rotors for the STi is any different than the EVO?

Thanks
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Old 04-19-2003, 10:30 PM   #20
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Paul, between the STI8 and EVO8, do you think the STI8 is better and more evolution than the EVO?

I know this can come down to preference, I am impartial to both cars but I have a feeling from watching many Lancer vs Impreza battles that the EVO has evolved less with each versions.
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Old 04-20-2003, 02:46 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by WReXinEfX
Paul, between the STI8 and EVO8, do you think the STI8 is better and more evolution than the EVO?

I know this can come down to preference, I am impartial to both cars but I have a feeling from watching many Lancer vs Impreza battles that the EVO has evolved less with each versions.
Unbiased... The STi 8 evolved a lot more from the STi 7 than the Evo 8 did from the Evo 7. The Evo 8 is the usual for mid-platform freshening by Ralliart/MMC - a little bit more power, a bit of suspension tweaking, a bit of AYC/ACD tweaking. The major news was the 6-speed. The STi 8 is something people would expect when the STi shifts from the old platform to a new one - not something that happens mid product cycle.

As to better. Don't know. I personally like the STi 8 better, but that's not an unbiased view. Simply the AYC alone would move my estimation of the Evo down a notch - I detest electronics like that. I may like the USDM Evo 8 a lot more than the JDM Evo 8 purely because of it's lack of electrogizmatics.

Going off all reports in Japan - they are equal. The STi 8 moved far enough forward to match the Evo 8 in performance, to the point that different drivers are faster in one or the other car, purely depending on their own drive skill biases.

In the end, the Legacy B4 is better than both of them, of course.

Cheers,

Paul Hansen
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Old 04-20-2003, 02:58 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally posted by shirokuma


Unbiased... The STi 8 evolved a lot more from the STi 7 than the Evo 8 did from the Evo 7. The Evo 8 is the usual for mid-platform freshening by Ralliart/MMC - a little bit more power, a bit of suspension tweaking, a bit of AYC/ACD tweaking. The major news was the 6-speed. The STi 8 is something people would expect when the STi shifts from the old platform to a new one - not something that happens mid product cycle.

As to better. Don't know. I personally like the STi 8 better, but that's not an unbiased view. Simply the AYC alone would move my estimation of the Evo down a notch - I detest electronics like that. I may like the USDM Evo 8 a lot more than the JDM Evo 8 purely because of it's lack of electrogizmatics.

Going off all reports in Japan - they are equal. The STi 8 moved far enough forward to match the Evo 8 in performance, to the point that different drivers are faster in one or the other car, purely depending on their own drive skill biases.

In the end, the Legacy B4 is better than both of them, of course.

Cheers,

Paul Hansen
www.apexjapan.com
Thank you for giving us this review. I think I would wait until the Legacy B4 comes stateside bypassing all the EVO & STI hype here in the US.
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Old 04-20-2003, 03:58 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally posted by WReXinEfX


Thank you for giving us this review. I think I would wait until the Legacy B4 comes stateside bypassing all the EVO & STI hype here in the US.
uhh.. i think he's pulling your leg on that last comment because he actually owns a B4, which is a very nice car, but not as performance oriented (without mods) as a STI or EVO.

Think of it performance wise as being halfway between an STI and a WRX, but with a lot more driver comfort than either of those two.
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Old 04-20-2003, 06:34 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally posted by P2x


uhh.. i think he's pulling your leg on that last comment because he actually owns a B4, which is a very nice car, but not as performance oriented (without mods) as a STI or EVO.

Think of it performance wise as being halfway between an STI and a WRX, but with a lot more driver comfort than either of those two.
Which is exactly what I'm looking for..
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Old 04-20-2003, 08:39 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally posted by P2x
uhh.. i think he's pulling your leg on that last comment because he actually owns a B4, which is a very nice car, but not as performance oriented (without mods) as a STI or EVO.


The next Legacy is a cracker of a car, though. What it gives up in outright performance, it more than makes up with it's blend of excellent chassis, nvh isolation without removing one's link to the tarmac, comfort at all speeds, and interior niceties and space.

Plus performance is likely to be compared to M3's and M5's, not Accords and Camry's.

Cheers,

Paul Hansen
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