In Summary
  • Think hard about it before diving right in because motor vehicle modification is exactly like a narcotic addiction: a slippery slope that is extremely difficult to wean oneself off of, and a bottomless money pit devoid of profit that may strain relationships with friends and family.

  • It also turns you into a caricature of your former self since what started as a recreational indulgence turns into an all-consuming obsession, and there will never be enough: you just want more … and more … and more.

Hi Baraza,

I enjoy reading your articles, continue with the good work. I have owned a 2011 Subaru Legacy Turbo for about six months now, and I am really surprised at how fast the car is — it is so fast, I have never been out-accelerated (I hope I never come across an Impreza STI or the Evo). Anyway, I want to squeeze some more juice from that engine and more boost from its turbo counterpart. Which basic and safest modes could I do at stages 1 and 2 and how much will they roughly cost me? I also want to instal a sunroof on it, a manual sunroof that I can lift and close manually, nothing major. Can it be done in Kenya? Looking forward for your reply.

Hello, Fellow Legacy Owner,

First off, as a fellow Legacy owner, you will allow me to dissuade you from participating in competitive driving on public roads with your high-powered and ultimately multitalented motor vehicle. We left those shenanigans to take our hot-blooded lead-footed antics to the track. Nobody, but nobody, is allowed to race on public roads, Impreza and Evos in the mirror notwithstanding.

So you want more juice out of the car? Why do you want more juice out of the car? Can you handle more juice out of the car? Do you need more juice out of the car? I think not. However, you asked, so I will tell.

Stage 1: Modifications are stand-alone adjustments and typically involve installation of a custom engine map, or tune, among other things. You do not need to change or upgrade that many components, though a racier suspension and bigger brakes will help you channel and corral that extra power more competently, but as I said, these mods are stand-alone, you can perform one and omit the other. You could instal a high-flow exhaust and a cold-air intake or cone air filter element. The engine map should handle the boost levels in the turbo, though I will not go into the details of mapping because it is a dedicated subject not easily condensed into a few dozen words. The cost implications heavily depend on who does the work, the brands and quality of components you buy and of course the extent of the modifications, so I don't have an exact number for you, but let's just say it starts at almost free (manually adjusting the ignition timing or mapping the car yourself) to very low five figures (or even high four figures) for things as mundane as a cheap induction kit to something in the low-to-mid six figures for upgrades that involve several systems covering everything I've listed.

Stage 2: As the name implies, turns things up a notch. It involves more extensive changes and is therefore a lot more expensive. The reason is that the modifications done are mutually dependent, i.e. for one change to work effectively, it needs another change to be performed elsewhere for the whole set-up to jell. This time you may need to change the heads, injectors, cams, clutch and fuel pump for bigger, beefier and more finely machined ones because you will have a more aggressive engine map and an aftermarket turbo. Just like Stage 1, the costs heavily rely on the scope of work, the quality and brand of components (turbos can get quite expensive) and whoever is doing the work, but the numbers you are looking at are in the high six figures once everything is factored in. Sometimes, this number creeps into seven figures.

So, again: do you really need more juice? Have you fully harnessed the current output and found it wanting or are you like many people I know whose primary priority is a sensation similar to a passenger jet at take-off every time they see a straight road and to Hades with everything else? Think hard about it before diving right in because motor vehicle modification is exactly like a narcotic addiction: a slippery slope that is extremely difficult to wean oneself off of, and a bottomless money pit devoid of profit that may strain relationships with friends and family. It also turns you into a caricature of your former self since what started as a recreational indulgence turns into an all-consuming obsession, and there will never be enough: you just want more … and more … and more.

As for the sunroof … well, it can be done. It has been done, but I don’t know who locally has the requisite competence to handle the task with appreciable aplomb. Try one of the more reputable body shops recommended by friends and forums.

What fuel octane rating is best for my vehicle in terms of safety and performance?

Hi Baraza,

Thanks a lot for the lots of help you have offered to the growing number of motorists and wannabes. I own a 2011 Subaru Legacy Turbo with a compression ratio of 8.5.1 — 9.5.1. With that in mind, what fuel octane rating is best for my vehicle in terms of safety and performance? I also need to know the exact octane ratings of our local fuels, such as the Total Excellium, Shell Fuel Save and Shell V-power.

Fred.

Hi Fred,

In terms of safety and (mostly) performance, of course the best octane rating is the highest you can find. After all, despite the normal-seeming compression ratio in your engine design, it is still turbocharged, isn't it?

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