Jan 19, 2009 update to the Subaru WRX project car

Fresh Breath Never Felt So Good

The K&N intake fits very well. Installation took about half an hour.
We didn’t need much to install the K&N intake: a 10mm wrench, 10mm socket and extension, assorted screwdrivers, and a little lubricating spray to help slide the rubber intake coupling in place.

Over the last 6000 miles or so, we’ve been enjoying our 2008 Subaru WRX project car as a daily driver. It’s proven to be a comfortable and practical street car, but many of our initial complaints about the new WRX hold true. Several of those concerns were addressed with revisions in the 2009 model car, but where does that leave the brave souls who jumped into owning these early cars?

The silver lining to this cloud is that the EJ25 engine used in the WRX was essentially unchanged from those used in the last few years. That means making some more power from the factory engine is well-charted territory. We recently upgraded the WRX’s intake with a K&N Typhoon intake system.

We’ve always had good luck with K&N products, especially with turbocharged cars like our WRX. Still, it’s never a bad idea to take some measurements. We didn’t have a four-wheel dyno available, so we used one of the downloadable iPhone accelerometer applications called “Dynolicious” to measure 0-60 acceleration before and after installation.

The bone-stock car delivered consistent, if not record-shattering 6.25-second zero-to-60 runs. We left the traction control system activated, and launched at a clutch-friendly 3000 rpm using a quick clutch slip rather than an abusive clutch dump. We could have pushed for faster times, but not without being mechanical sadists.

Installation for the K&N intake was pretty easy; removing two screws, two clamps, and two bolts allowed us to pull the stock intake. Once it was assembled, the K&N simply went into its place. Assembling the K&N was almost as simple; the instructions included with the kit were well written and easy to understand.

After installing the new intake, we drove the car about 15 miles to allow the ECU to adjust to the new, free-breathing intake tract. We noticed a slight change in the intake noises almost immediately; we could hear the whistle of the turbo spooling up and a faint “chuff” upon closing the throttle. These sounds were pleasantly subtle; loud enough to notice, but not so loud that they drew attention from outside the car.

From the seat of the pants, it felt like the K&N system was doing its job. However, we weren’t ready to simply take the performance claims at face value. After another half-dozen runs using the Dynolicious software and the same launch technique, we saw our zero-to-60 times drop about two-tenths of a second to the low six-second range, with our fastest zero-to-60 run measuring 6.03 seconds.

In the end, we can’t say that we were surprised by the K&N Typhoon’s performance. Good engineering made the installation a breeze and delivered solid performance gains. We’d be especially interested to see how the gains could be further improved with a plug-in performance tuner like the Cobb AccessPort.

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