Monday, September 29, 2008

More Footwork: Whiteline Rear Sway Bar

We installed a Whiteline 22mm adjustable rear sway bar on the STI to try to get the car to rotate a little more readily. The stock suspension, even with the coilovers, has a marked understeer bias, meaning the front loses grip long before the rear. While this is safe, it makes it difficult to hustle the car around corners effectively.

A firmer rear sway bar can make the back end of the car more lively, and Whiteline's 22mm bar (up from the stock 17mm) is adjustable so we can tweak the stiffness at the back. Since we were back there, we also installed Whiteline adjustable rear end links. Installation was straightforward -- you could easily do this to a car on jack stands. Note that the sway bar kit comes with a set of sway bar support brackets (the gold-colored bar in the picture), which tie together the sway bar mount and the rear subframe. We think this is a great idea -- the stronger sway bar will put a significant amount of stress on its bracket. You can buy the sway bar supports separately if you want.

One note on the installation: The bar has a Whiteline label on the center portion. You would THINK that the label would face upright when mounted on the car. At least in this case, you'd be wrong. Putting the bar on so it'll clear the exhaust meant the label is upside down. Who knew?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The STI as Daily Driver: Thumbs Up

Compared to some of my previous daily drivers (cough! -- Lancer Evo -- cough!) the STI is extremely easy to live with. Even with the relatively hard-core Cusco coilovers, the ride is comfortable enough. And I had forgotten how useful and practical the hatchback layout is. Open hatch, pop down one seat, slide in a cat-back exhaust, box and all, and still have room for two passengers. It's quieter than older STI models, too. Talking with passengers doesn't require raising my voice.

I've come to appreciate the lighted steering wheel controls -- cruise control and audio functions are illuminated for easy identification at night.

The other part of STI ownership that I didn't expect is all the compliments and attention. At one gas stop I got three different people coming over and commenting on the car. I get thumbs up from random other drivers. One guy followed me to where I was going to ask about the car. Non-car people say things like, "I love your car! It's cool looking! What is it?" Not even the Evo got this kind of positive reaction.