Cars

Three Hundred Wheel Horsepower

A brief update.

Last weekend I headed down to Rhode Island to see the guys at Wicked Innovation, who were tasked with fixing my boost leak and retuning the car for the new intercooler and turbo. Both tasks were done admirably, and my car’s engine is now in the form I think I’ll leave it in. I am right at the edge of my stock engine’s fuel delivery capabilities, and for these fuel injectors that roughly equates to, as the title states, 300 wheel horsepower.

For a modified WRX, 300 wheel horsepower is a moderate amount, more than Stage 2 bolt-ons will get you but nothing especially difficult or expensive to attain. With fuel system upgrades and nothing else, I could probably be up by 330 or 350 wheel horsepower, which is in the neighborhood of a brand new V8 Mustang, though in a much lighter car. But let’s focus on what I have, not what I could theoretically get.

300 wheel horsepower is a lot for a driver to handle.

Like any (ir)responsible modified car owner, I had to test the full boost performance of the car. I’ve only actually let the car in current form rev beyond about 4000 rpm once, and the details of that excursion will not be dwelled on too much, so everyone can imagine I was doing it on a closed track. To floor the car from a standstill or near standstill transforms the driving experience from directing a large vehicle to holding on to a large vehicle while it is hurtling forward. 60 miles per hour comes in comfortably less than 5 seconds, and then of course I stop there because that’s what the speed limit is on the highway (of course!). The fact that the car is all-wheel drive makes this process a lot easier: no tire smoke, just grip, and when the car goes forward, it goes forward. It goes where you want it to, but changing that direction may be a little tough. This experience when compared to my Bonneville is what makes me leery of going back to front-wheel drive for high-powered giggles: torque steer in a car with as much power as my WRX has will almost certainly kill you. If that isn’t a suggestion not to upgrade the turbo on your Mazdaspeed3, I don’t know what is.

In short, I’ve reached a more than sufficient stopping point with the engine of my car. I’m not in big power territory by any means, which confuses me. I could see the WRX as a potent track day car with as much as 400 whp, but driving one with more power than mine on public streets makes no sense. Ultimately, it may be that for what I’m doing, I have reached a satisfying conclusion. My car is a street car, and with its current upgrades it can do everything I want it to and more on the street. As I won’t drag it, and will probably seldom if ever track it, there’s little need to go further.

That of course, is for the engine. No that my power needs are taken care of, there’s only some frame stiffening, potential coilovers, visual upgrades, and possibly some mild stereo work. A modified car is never finished…

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