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JDM Power Wagons

Where Utility And Boost Converge

Evan Griffey
Jul 2, 2006 SHARE
0607_turp_1z+mitsubishi_evolution_ix+right_front_view Photo 1/1   |   JDM Power Wagons

Rewind to 1997 and we find that sport utility vehicles have evolved past the Jurassic period that was ushered in by the original Ford Explorer in 1990. The SUV had become more utilitarian and less "trucklike" and did so at a reasonable price. On the opposite side of the automotive spectrum the performance titans of the day, like the Mazda RX-7 Twin Turbo, Toyota Supra Twin Turbo, and the Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo were at their peak, but were burdened with price tags well over $40,000 and their utter lack of utility was exacerbated by the that fact that two of the three are two-seaters.

Fast forward to today and the most popular performance powerhouses are made up of four-door sedans with all-wheel drive and turbo-four powerplants: the Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi Evolution. Furthermore, these hot shots check in with a price tag in the $25,000 to $30,000 range. To illustrate that the pendulum has swung fully the other way it is the SUV with the $40,000-plus price tag and thirsty V-8 engines at a time when gas prices are at all-time highs. Is change indeed at hand?

It's common knowledge that Subaru went well beyond the four-door sedan when addressing the utilitarianistic value of the WRX by offering a wagon version. Subaru also offers a wagon version of its Legacy GT model. However, not everyone knows that Mitsubishi followed suit with an EVO wagon, as it is not offered in the North American market.

JDM power wagons, like the Trust-tuned Legacy GT and EVO VIII wagons that grace these pages, prove that high performance and utility do not merely survive together but thrive together.

Evolution VIII Wagon
The EVO is the more interesting of the pair here because it has an air of exclusivity as a JDM-only gem. Furthermore, the white Diamond Star flexes harder-hitting modifications than the Legacy GT. Trust, the parent company of GReddy USA, went beyond the call and dropped a full-tilt turbo system upgrade on the EVO's 4G63 powerplant. Pop the hood and the glistening stainless steel turbo manifold jumps out and kidnaps your retinas. The highly crafted header feeds into a GReddy TD06S-20g turbo and an external, high-flow wastegate. An upgraded R-SPL front-mount intercooler was called on to handle the added volume generated by the TD06.

Other engine mods include a GReddy performance radiator, an Airinx-B intake system, a Power Extreme Ti exhaust system, an external oil cooler setup, and a gaggle of dress-up items. Tuning is handled by a GReddy e-Manage tuning computer working in conjunction with a PRofec e-01 boost controller.

The stance and handling of the Diamond Star wagon have been enhanced with GReddy performance dampers, front and rear strut tower bars, and lower arm bars. This tidy suspension scheme delivers sporty cornering without sacrificing ride quality or the car's grocery-getting ambitions. The EVO's contact patch is provided by 235/40-18 Bridgestone Potenza RE-01Rs wrapped around 18x9.5 Gravity Gulliflame wheels.

Jumping to big brakes has a substantial impact on the looks and handling aspects of the car. Big, drilled rotors and colorful, multi-piston calipers stand out, especially when framed by a set of wicked rims. These components offer more clamping force, more durability, and better repeatability than the used stock offerings they replace. It's a win-win mod. GReddy has an extensive line of upgrade kits, and on the DSM wagon it unleashed a big-rotor system featuring six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers.

The exterior and interior were only lightly massaged. A GREX front lip spoiler is the lone body tuning mod while the interior received a gauge makeover. The weapon of choice here is the GReddy SM Integrated Gauge System, which consists of a control unit and five gauges daisy chained together to speed installation and allow for easy expansion of the system. Currently, the cockpit is configured with boost, oil pressure, and temperature gauges monitoring oil, coolant, and exhaust gases.

Legacy GT Wagon
The Legacy GT wagon is available in the U.S.A. but the JDM version has a 2.0L turbo-four engine, not the 2.5L offered in America. GReddy's plan of attack for the graphite-hued Subie was a bit more restrained than that of the EVO. The Subie retained its stock turbo but was granted a boost-up with the help of a GReddy e-Manage Ultimate tuning computer, a PRofec B-Spec boost controller, and an R-SPL front-mount intercooler. The plan also called for an Airinx-B intake and Trust Silent Force Evolution exhaust system to accentuate the boxer's distinctive exhaust note.

The Legacy GT's footwork is also less involved than the EVO's, consisting of DownMax lowering coils and stock struts. The brakes have been upgraded to the same six- and four-piston caliper setup found on the Mitsubishi. When addressing the Subie's rolling hardware, GReddy selected Potenza RE050s and Prodrive GC-010G aluminum. The Subie's body is stock and the interior treatment is a carbon copy of the EVO, with SM Integrated gauges leading the charge.

With their all-wheel-drive systems, fuel-efficient four-cylinder engines, turbo-tunable performance, and gobs of cargo capacity, the current species of high-performance wagons have struck a balance between fury and functionality. And as long as this balance is maintained these power wagons seem poised to weather whatever socio-economic or other Darwinistic challenges that may lie ahead. Mitsubishi would be well-served to consider importing the EVO wagon to the States considering the volatility of the U.S. market, the poor position of the SUV in relation to fuel prices, and the SUV's distinct pricing disadvantage. We'd be first in line for one of these JDM power wagons.

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By Evan Griffey
271 Articles

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