By: David Ray, www.hookedondriving.com
For: The Wheel
Gary Liu of Mann Engineering recently chased me down at an HOD event to explain a project he has been working on for 2 years. It seems that he is connected to some Subaru gurus in the UK called Power Station, and they’d put together a potent package for the STI…a car that maximizes the potential of the current Subaru’s very competent platform and power. Gary has developed a team here in the U.S. to bring this “uber” STI to the States. And I was invited to drive serial #000. I had to admit to skepticism about this effort to completely re-engineer a very good car, but who am I to turn down a test drive? So it was drive on. I got two separate stints – one on Highway 5 and some hot laps at Thunderhill, and a followup drive on some foothill twisties and freeways around the SF Bay area.
Holy Toledo – this project was not done by amateurs – Gary and his team know what they’re doing. The car is a winner right out of the box! As I reflected on any previous situations I recalled like this, my experience with the Stage III Roush Mustang came to mind. Both cars start out around $30-40K base retail, and with the conversion packages, they end up around $30K higher – not a small consideration. In the case of the Roush, I sat down and did the math – calculating all the goodies added to the Stang, then considered the engineering that went in to putting a tuned package together, plus installation and a warranty and could pretty easily justify the substantial upcharge. But that was because the Roush Mustang really worked, and the package took it to a new market segment with its performance.
Did this, serial #000 test mule pass this same kind of sniff test? YES, YES, and YES. The Type 25 has NO hints of a first time effort. Installation of a mega-list of cool parts is totally stealth. There are almost no visual clues or showiness that would lead you to believe that you’d just pulled up next to a rocket ship at the stop light. This is a thoroughly engineered car. Virtually every aspect of performance has been enhanced, if not transformed, while preventing the car
from looking like the big bad wolf. This will be especially helpful if the CHP were to stop you while enjoying the benefits of the Type 25 – the officer might believe that you were just headed to PETCO.
Without going any further than our very positive first impression, we’ll include a table of the extensive upgrades that the Type 25 package includes:
Type 25 Specifications:
Fully Assembled Cosworth
- Forged Pistons and Rods with Race Bearings
- Rebalanced STI Forged Crank
- High Pressure/Volume Oil Pump
- Ported and Polished heads with +1mm Intake and Inconel Exhaust Valves
- High?RPM Dual Valve Springs with Titanium Retainers
- High Performance Camshafts
- CNC Aluminum Timing Belt Guide
- Fully Spec’d motor with a print specification sheet
- Engine build serial number
- Cosworth High Flow Air Filter
- 3?Inch Turbo Inlet hose for smoother air flow into the Turbo
- Garrett Type 25 Ball Bearing Turbo with Inconel Heat Shield
- Milltek Sport 3inch Exhaust with High?Flow Race Catalytic Converter
- Power: 360whp @ 6250RPM (Roughly 430bhp)
- Torque: 340lbs?ft @4400RPM (Roughly 410lbs?ft)
- Premium Fuel Required (91 octane minimum
- Helix Organic Single Plate Clutch
- AP Racing 6?Piston Front Calipers
- AP Racing 48?Vane, 355x32mm Slotted Rotor
- Mintex Xtreme Motorsport Brake Pads
- Stainless Steel Brake Lines
If you know your cars, you know that this is a VERY serious list of major upgrades, with top names like Cosworth, AP, and AST telling you that Mann is going first class with this conversion. And a conversion it is. Getting in, there are no visual cues of what you’re about to experience, except the cool digital data screen mounted on the windshield pillar. Fire her up and you hear a muted gatling gun sound… the Subaru distinct staccato. But the Type 25 seems to have just a bit more base…again – not showy – just a subtle clue of what’s ahead and very liveable.
Starting my drive I immediately stall the car. Oops…forgot that this is a performance clutch. Not a problem, just a couple of engagements and you get the feel – it’s not very progressive, pretty much “let’s go now.” Off and running you sense very little different about the car. The seats are not supercar quality
for sure, so skepticism creeps in a bit. My first run was straight out on to the track at Thunderhill, never having driven the car on the street. Immediately the driver goes to full concentration mode as this is obviously a VERY fast car. And it has a distinct performance profile that calls for a driving style to match its wants and needs. The Type 25 has huge boost from 4,000 to 6,000 RPMs, so you need to make a decision early on just how brave you are and you’ll need to get into a rhythm with the turbo. The turbo will be your friend, if you dance with it nice. I found that the most important elements of driving the Type 25 on the track were keeping the car on boost, and when I couldn’t, to never lose boost completely – making “maintenance throttle” a critical component to maintaining pace. If, for instance, you enter a turn and feel yourself lag into the seat belts, you blew it. You have to slow aggressively (easy with the awesome AP brakes), but then transition smoothly to throttle without that one second lag taking the pressure off the turbo. Maintenance throttle carries you through your turn in, and you’ve held a high enough gear to be around 4,000 RPM’s when you’re ready accelerate past the apex, and rocket you will….when the boost hits, hold on. This is when the all-wheel drive will save many novice drivers who may be driving this car. Most turbos remind me of a surge similar to a four barrel carburetor opening its secondaries (sorry, young people – you’ll have to Google carburetor)…well – the boost in the Type 25 is a bit more like an afterburner!! I am also told that there is a boost dial under the hood…yikes. With this boost kicking in, you immediately start plotting your next braking point and turn, as it’s going to happen very soon. This is a very quick car that has a distinct personality and it will require some practice at maximizing its potential. It is not a linear, normal car. You’ll have to work to get in sync with the car, and the results will be a magical feel of flowing the car around a track while the car is maintained in its optimum performance levels. The coilovers are excellent at allowing a rapid turn in and the car is extremely neutral while carrying LOTS of speed in a carousel-like turn such as Turn 2 at Thunderhill. I did let Gary know that I believe for track use, the sway bars are too modest and I’d set the adjustable dampers to full stiff for the track. With aggressive driving, comes aggressive roll that make the car a bit of a handful in quick transitions…left, right, left sequences. He agreed and acknowledged that the rear bar is adjustable and larger bars are available. Another item that became a real nuisance is the stock Subaru seats. They might hold you in with stock performance but NOT the Type 25. I felt that if I were to track the car regularly this was a necessary upgrade – either seats, or belts or both. All in all, the trip on the track was a blast, and left me wanting to get more seat time to perfect the driving style to really do the car justice.
Flash forward two months. I get to drive the same test car on public highways. First, I’m impressed that the car is still in service, with no squeaks, rattles or apparent issues. I am amazed at how friendly this car is when just tooling around. The Cosworth bits are holding up nicely and the car once again dishes out everything I can give it. Traversing a very dodgy, nearly one-lane, bumpy road, this is where the Type 25 blew me away. I have never driven a car that eats up bad roads like this car. It is super-fast between kinks, with unbelievable brakes to set for the twists, a predictable gearbox for finding the needed gears, and that afterburner forcing you down to the next turn. It was on this series of esses that I found the need to keep the revs higher than in a traditional turbo car. I raced a Mitsubishi a few years back and always shifted at 5800 to get back to that shove from the boost. The Type 25 is not afraid to rev – with a red line at 6500, Gary says 8000 is not a problem. You don’t really need to be at 8000, except that there will be times that you want the higher gear rather than upshift into a low boost scenario. Back to learning the car’s personality thing…the Type 25 is an acquired taste for a driver who knows what he/she is doing. With that said, it’s a screamer and, with the exception of the Subaru stock interior, has the performance to run with, if not beat, many supercars.
Lastly, I’ll add a shameless and self-serving plug for performance driving days. This car simply has to go to the track. It’s way too much fun, way too fast, and stops too well to try any of its limits on public highways. Frankly, as a person who can do turn 8 at Thunderhill really fast, this car scared me on a tight, wooded and twisty road – it could get you in big trouble fast. I congratulate Mann Engineering on hitting it out of the park with their serial #000 test car. And I would encourage any interested parties to build in the cost of track time with the purchase of this car.
For more information about this car, go to: www.type-25.us