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July 23, 2018
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So, you’ve just bought a new or used 2015/2016/2017 Subaru WRX, and it looks and sounds awesome. Its stock 268-hp, 2.0-litre, turbo, four-cylinder engine effortlessly propels the car from zero to 100km per hour in just 5 seconds, and the stock 6-speed manual transmission delivers quick, precise shifts just like you thought it would!
But, you really want to maximise your WRX’s performance, so naturally, you start thinking of ways you can crank things up a notch. If this is you, here are the top five performance mods you ought to consider for your WRX.
One of the best ways to spice things up in your WRX is by changing your car’s ECU mapping. The 2015-2017 WRX models are all known to have an annoying rev hang and somewhat undesirable stock engine tuning.
Cobb Tuning has just what you need for that – the Cobb Subaru Accessport V3. It is one of the best Subaru ECU upgrade solutions that money can buy. It replaces the factory module settings in your WRX’s ECU with more aggressive, track-worthy calibrations that facilitate livelier driving dynamics, delivering more power and torque.
The Accessport V3 is mounted in the car, and has a full-colour, high-resolution screen with a customisable gauge display. This handy device also comes with its own preloaded “Off The Shelf” (OTS) maps from the Cobb OTS map database, which also allows you to create custom maps. This device performs real-time monitoring of various engine parameters, such as engine RPM, injection pulse width, air/fuel sensor readings and more! On top of that, the Accessport V3 logs the performance of racing parameters, like 0-100 km/h time and trap speed, making it a must-have for any serious WRX owner.
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Replacing your WRX’s stock downpipe with a larger one is another surefire way of improving its performance and fuel economy. Called a j-pipe because it’s shaped like a ‘J’, this pipe channels the turbocharger exhaust from the engine to the exhaust system.
Because the one that you install will be larger and wider than the stock downpipe, it’ll expel more turbocharger exhaust, which could increase output by a whopping 40 horsepower. The larger custom j-pipe also helps to reduce engine temperature and turbo lag.
Fortunately, an aftermarket downpipe can be had with or without a catalytic converter, and most of them are made with stainless steel. Along with the j-pipe, you also need to get a similarly sized mid-pipe, which is also available “catless” or “catted.”
If you’re looking for maximum performance, fitting a j-pipe on your WRX is a no brainer.
The 2015-2017 WRX models feature a small stock top mount intercooler that draws air via the hood scoop. It does an adequate job of cooling compressed air from the engine’s turbocharger, but it is prone to heat soak, especially when you get caught up in slow-moving traffic or when you are driving at slow speeds. For any performance-minded WRX owner, the biggest problem with this is that it also tends to choke up at high RPMs. If you really want to take your car’s performance to another level without damaging the engine, you need to consider getting an intercooler upgrade that is significantly larger.
Some people argue that you should go for a front mount intercooler for more efficient cooling because they get better airflow, but a top mount intercooler upgrade is a better choice for a WRX. This is because you will avoid having to do the additional piping that would be required with a front mount, and you will be able to use an OEM charge pipe with a top mount intercooler upgrade. In addition, the shorter intercooler piping assures you of reduced turbo lag and quicker turbo response.
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Yet another mod that is sure to improve the performance of your 2015-2017 WRX is an aftermarket catback exhaust. Most of them come in stainless steel, finished with quad exhaust tips. This kind of system is going to improve the free flow of exhaust gases, so you can count on it to reduce exhaust pressure, enabling the turbo engine to breathe better. Another benefit of a catback exhaust is that it results in better fuel efficiency and gives a boost to horsepower.
For any WRX owner looking to impress, this mod also comes with some topical benefits like a deeper and more aggressive exhaust note that is sure to wake the neighbours, along with a sportier, track-ready look!
You can’t go wrong with a better air intake system for your WRX. A larger, more robust air intake system translates to more oxygen in the fuel mix of your engine, which translates to more power, enhanced acceleration and better fuel economy ratings.
You can opt for either a short ram air intake, or a cold air intake system. A short ram air intake system comes with short, wide piping and it places the air filter close to the engine, so it is only able to draw in warm air that is close to the engine. A cold air intake system features longer piping and it positions the air filter farther away from the engine to draw cooler air in.
Because of its structure and ease of installation, a short ram air intake system is relatively more affordable, but in most cases, it does not provide as much additional horsepower as a cold air intake system does. The main drawback of a cold air intake system is that it is more expensive and difficult to install and service.
When it comes to air intake systems, you’ll need to choose what will work best for you based on your budget and needs.
One final tip, if you're looking for the best way to charge your battery. Check out this great buying guide.
If you’re looking to enhance your WRX, just know that cheaper does not always mean better! While there are many aftermarket part sellers to choose from, including those on eBay, make certain that you are buying from someone with an established reputation, like Ausbody Works.. Some retailers will even give you a package deal based on what you are looking for.