Having a hard time adapting the WRX. Blame it on VW or AT?
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This is a discussion on Having a hard time adapting the WRX. Blame it on VW or AT? within the Everyday Impreza Talk forums, part of the Community - Meet other Enthusiasts category; Let me start by sayin', I love the Subaru. I've long wanted a WRX. Back in '03, when I was ...

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    Having a hard time adapting the WRX. Blame it on VW or AT?

    Let me start by sayin', I love the Subaru. I've long wanted a WRX. Back in '03, when I was shopping for a 'nicer' car, I seriously looked into trying to afford a WRX, but ultimately, the~23,000+ price tag was just out of range. That's when I went lookin' at the VW's. After shopping a couple of the big lots, I find an '02 GTI 1.8T (only 1 year old at the time). It was clean! 5 Spd, Leather interior, heated seats, moon roof, Monsoon 8 speaker stereo system, Factory 17in. sport wheels. So anyway, I bought it and drove it for 8 years. Sold it about a month ago. It still drives like a champ. I gotta say, that GTI was a good car. A lot of head light and tail light problems and 2nd gear is starting to get noisy, but the engine and chassis is solid.

    So I sold it... and while truck shopping.. I happened upon a great looking '04 WRX automatic . Drove it and bought it. And after a month, I love it. But I'm having a hard time adjusting to the powerband. The GTI had instant torgue and pulled the entire powerband. The Subaru, while being slightly faster, has no bottom end. I feel like if I had a manual I could play with that a little bit. But as it stands, I have an automatic. So I guess I'm stuck with the transmission being in the powerband that it wants to be in. But to be honest, Im okay with the AT. On the highway, I feel like I've lost the high gear passing speed that I've been used to. In the GTI, I could easily pass a semi in 5th gear. And if I wanted to aggressively pass someone I just needed to down shift to 4th and I was on. In the WRX, it's all or nothin'. If I'm cruising in 5th and I attempt to pass someone, it will down to 4th, which is fine, but there's still not much there. It comes, it's just takes some building up. And if I try to quickly pass someone, I press down the peddle and it'll downshift to 3rd. From there Im pulled back into my seat and I end up passing 2 or 3 cars. All or nothin'.. it's takin' some gettin' used to.

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    Moderator Donkey's Avatar
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    It's definitely the tranny. A turbo back exhaust with an ECU reflash will wake it up a little.
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    I'm not an expert, but I would guess the GTI had a smaller turbo (180hp vs WRX 220) since the displacement was only 0.2L difference. The extra 40hp is made up with a larger but slower spooling turbo, I'm sure the GTI spooled quickly but lost some top-end power

    edit: Agreed on the tranny, gearing can make all the difference
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    Registered User yawnoC's Avatar
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    One of my friends has an '05 Saab 9-2x Aero which is the exact same powertrain as the 02-05 WRX. His car is stick, but he has occasionally driven the AT when his car has gotten serviced, and he said that the AT had a lot of turbo lag compared to the MT.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cephalgia View Post
    I'm not an expert, but I would guess the GTI had a smaller turbo (180hp vs WRX 220) since the displacement was only 0.2L difference. The extra 40hp is made up with a larger but slower spooling turbo, I'm sure the GTI spooled quickly but lost some top-end power

    edit: Agreed on the tranny, gearing can make all the difference
    This. The turbo on the 1.8 is the size of a fist...but it spools VERY low in the RPMs so you get that power quickly. Plus being able to control that with a manual transmission makes a very big difference.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cephalgia View Post
    The extra 40hp is made up with a larger but slower spooling turbo, I'm sure the GTI spooled quickly but lost some top-end power

    No, not really. That thing pulled consistently from start to finish.

    To be honest, my old GTI would roll my new WRX. From a dig or roll.

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    The turbocharger used on the 1.8T VW's is the Borg-Warner KKK03. The K03 turbo is a smaller turbo, capable of spooling up much quicker than other traditional turbos. Stock, the engine/turbo combination produces 150hp, with 150ft/lbs of torque that kick in at about 1750 rpms; all at a safe 7psi. The beauty of the engine is that torque stays on all the way through the rpm range, so full torque is available through almost all of the rpm range.
    Here's the info, the stock turbo only made 7psi of boost, so the transition from turbo to engine at higher rpm is probably why you didn't notice. The WRX may feel slower, but I'd be willing to bet it isn't. I traded my 08 for an 09, and the power felt much less linear, and therefore not as quick. It wasn't until I went stage II that I noticed the power really was better throughout. I'm sure the fact your is an auto drastically affects that feel too
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    Its because its automatic manuel u have more control
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    Quote Originally Posted by Are_Ohbi View Post
    No, not really. That thing pulled consistently from start to finish.

    To be honest, my old GTI would roll my new WRX. From a dig or roll.

    More likely your butt dyno talking, unless your gti was chipped and you're comparing it to a stock 2.0 WRX. Earlier torque delivery in the GTI could easily be mistaken for being faster, but overall, I don't think a stock 2002 1.8t would roll a WRX let alone from a dig. From a roll, it would be a lot closer, but I still see the WRX ahead(but not much).

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    Quote Originally Posted by IRPDR View Post
    More likely your butt dyno talking, unless your gti was chipped and you're comparing it to a stock 2.0 WRX. Earlier torque delivery in the GTI could easily be mistaken for being faster, but overall, I don't think a stock 2002 1.8t would roll a WRX let alone from a dig. From a roll, it would be a lot closer, but I still see the WRX ahead(but not much).
    I sold the GTI to my roommate. It's still sitting in my driveway right now.

    On the way back from the car lot, we rolled up next to each other on the xpressway rolling about 60. We both punch it and the GTI pulled ahead both times we tried it. I eventually caught up and past him, but I had to build the speed. And from a dig, I've driven the GTI for 8 years. And after driving the WRX, I can surely tell you the GTI is going to dust that automatic WRX. But I understand that it's because of the AT. If it was MT, it would be a different story. This is the part that's hard to get used to.


    The turbocharger used on the 1.8T VW's is the Borg-Warner KKK03. The K03 turbo is a smaller turbo, capable of spooling up much quicker than other traditional turbos. Stock, the engine/turbo combination produces 150hp, with 150ft/lbs of torque that kick in at about 1750 rpms; all at a safe 7psi. The beauty of the engine is that torque stays on all the way through the rpm range, so full torque is available through almost all of the rpm range.

    Here's the info, the stock turbo only made 7psi of boost, so the transition from turbo to engine at higher rpm is probably why you didn't notice. The WRX may feel slower, but I'd be willing to bet it isn't. I traded my 08 for an 09, and the power felt much less linear, and therefore not as quick. It wasn't until I went stage II that I noticed the power really was better throughout. I'm sure the fact your is an auto drastically affects that feel too
    The '02 1.8T had 180hp @ 5500 and 174lb-ft @ 1950. The stock boost is like 12 or 13 psi.


    And I realize the turbo is small therefore it spools quickly. It's just both cars are fairly powerful 4 cylinders, just at different ends of the spectrum. I have to get used to this new type of power. And yes, I would like to add beneficial bolt-ons and a tune. That should help. And of course, those transmission mounts... and maybe a good sea-foaming.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikie13 View Post
    This. The turbo on the 1.8 is the size of a fist...but it spools VERY low in the RPMs so you get that power quickly. Plus being able to control that with a manual transmission makes a very big difference.
    I like what VW did with the 1.8. That tiny little snail spooled almost instantly for great low end response and torque. The 5 valve head flowed very well on the top so the power never really fell off much. I actually really enjoy driving them.

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    I loved my little ko3 :]
    Last edited by souper; 06-03-2011 at 06:06 AM.

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