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 |   |  2008 Subaru STI GRB - Combo Breaker
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2008 Subaru STI GRB - Combo Breaker

Hatchback, not a sedan—amplified M7 GRB STI.

Steve Enomoto
Jun 12, 2013
Photographer: Henry Z. De Kuyper
Impp 1304 01 o+2008 subaru STI GRB+HKS kansai rear diffuser Photo 1/15   |   2008 Subaru STI GRB - Combo Breaker

Sedan, sedan, sedan, sedan, sedan... hatchback. What went wrong with this pattern? Subaru Imprezas have never been seen as a rear hatch design, but they have also never stated that the next WRX/STI model was to be a sedan again. In fact, there's really no need to think that deep into Subaru's decision. It was simply the mere fact that they decided to throw a wrench into the constancy to introduce a fresh new hatchback version to the Impreza lineage. In actuality the taboo design was considered peculiar but perfect, where the body lines exhibited all the good qualities of a hatchback, station wagon, and sedan, all in one. The next thing you know, breaking the tradition was a genius decision made by the auto manufacturer where the machine became widely accepted and recognized within the Subie community. First debuted in 2007 with its new face-lift and so-called "butt lift", the five-door hatchback version was recognized as the highest-ranking automobile by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Enough with the factory-spec mumbo jumbo, aftermarket enthusiasts were relieved that just the outer shape was changed, for which it still included the same high-performance aspects you can expect from your traditional Subaru AWD boxer configuration. The next challenge for the enthusiasts was to see which parts coincided with the previous versions and if that would be made to work, or to wait for new go-fast products to be developed. The new revamped EJ25 engine received variable valve timing on the intake and exhaust side, where it enabled a quicker torque band and turbo spool good for over 300 hp. This was a great machine right out of the box, but people want something different than the norm. People want more and more power.

Impp 1304 01 o+2008 subaru STI GRB+3M 1080P vinyl Photo 2/15   |   2008 Subaru STI GRB - Combo Breaker

Lou Roc, a dedicated enthusiast who owns and operates a tuning shop, Amplified Motorsport in the City of Industry, California, is one of these people. He wanted more than just power though; he wanted to turn heads while going fast. Sound like an import magazine feature cliche? Don't be deceived; it can't get truer than this case. This vehicle has already won many car show trophies and has the battle scars to prove its so-called racetrack participation. Furthermore, Lou's vehicle is also used as a grocery getter. Again, it may sound cliche and almost surreal, but he is one of the very few who have managed to build a vehicle that adapts to any type of usage.

Lou Roc and Amplified knew what the STI was capable of, but simply increasing boost and maxing out the factory turbo meant that engine life will be shortened and many issues will soon follow. Here he opted for a practical-sized turbo that will produce enough power without over clocking the unit. With the recommendation from the Subaru specialists at Yimisport Tuning, he decided a Synergy Turbo was the best choice in terms of size and performance. The outer dimensions of the Synergy 20G turbocharger is almost identical to factory, however the internals are all-around larger, to move more air. Moving air and exhaling spent gases at a faster rate is the most important when tuning a force-fed engine, so the turbo was mated to a Synergy Turbo equal-length header, Invidia downpipe, and M7 oversized intercooler. Everything is spent out of the titanium M7 exhaust to the rear of the vehicle. Fuel is taken care of with the Synergy 340-lph fuel pump and HKS 850cc injectors that then is internally combusted by the HKS Hyper Twin DLI System and super cold spark plugs. More M7 Japan products were being loaded on the car, such as the carbon induction air intake, blow-off valve, oil cooler, and even 15-50W engine oil-indicative of Lou's close affiliation with M7 Japan. The masterful and wise Yimisport then reflashed the ECU to tune a new fuel and ignition map according to the new engine specifications that were just listed. Lou's vehicle recorded in at 340 whp at 4,400 rpm, and 363 lb-ft of torque at 5,400 rpm. Not impressed? Remember that it's 340 hp to all four wheels, not two. Twice as much traction, twice as quick.

For better handling and to achieve that killer stance, the suspension was fitted with full height adjustable M7 units, which feature 8kg front and 6kg rear spring rates and a 35-way damper adjustability function. Full height adjustability means that the height of the suspension can be altered without compromising the shock and spring stroke. Lou has been in this game for a while now and he tends to go with the flow, never mixing up unnecessary brands. Whiteline was awarded the placement for the sway bar department as well as the chassis rigidity products that were becoming crucial because of the high-horsepower output. Lou keeps his brands consistent, and it's obvious for this project he efficiently tapped into Amplified Motorsport's long network of industry affiliates. The suspension was then sent out for custom alignment for daily use, as well as occasional high-speed circuit thrashing.

Impp 1304 14 o+2008 subaru STI GRB+yokohama advan TC 3 gunmetal Photo 6/15   |   2008 Subaru STI GRB - Combo Breaker

With higher power comes great responsibility, specifically brakes and tires. The factory Brembo STI calipers are more than enough if you're a sissy who's scared to take the car to triple-digit speeds, but in Lou's case he needed a bit more. The stock pads were thrown out for Project Mu Club Racer units, an all-around better pad in terms of initial bite and increased control. Goodridge stainless steel lines and slotted rotors accompanied the new brake setup to combine that solid pedal feel and a more efficient cooling design. Gunmetal Yokohama Advan TC-3 wheels cover the braking setup, strapped with Advan tires with just enough offset to tuck but never make contact with the wheelwells. Since it's not a drift or drag setup, the non-staggered setup is ideal for an AWD configuration. In Lou's case, he decided to go with 18x9.5 wheels all around. He then entrusted the DCCD feature for traction, which Subaru has spent millions of dollars developing-absolutely flawless on virtually any type of given road condition.

Luckily, the exterior of the GRB STI comes widebody from the factory, which is the most sought after traction inducing modification out there. This is what makes the STI version most appealing; it just screams wide tread wheels and road-hugging characteristics. Lou decided to wrap the body with 3M 1080p vinyl, which immediately gave the entire vehicle a stealthy, bad boy aura. We can all agree that the combination of flat black combined with a Seibon front carbon-fiber lip and vented hood is sexier than a tiger and lion baby with gigantic unicorn wings. It's a timeless appearance and looks so damn good. Even more rare parts were imported from Japan, such as the HKS Kansai rear diffuser and side spats, which are apparently more difficult to obtain than regular HKS products.

Impp 1304 01 o+2008 subaru STI GRB+seibon carbon front lip Photo 7/15   |   2008 Subaru STI GRB - Combo Breaker

The act of presenting something different to a bunch of enthusiasts who are used to the norm was very risky, but the payout ended up being marvelous for Subaru. Now all kinds of famous drivers and celebrities are using this hatchback platform for their racing and 10 million-hit viral videos. Of course, the sedan version is also available for those conservative Subaru enthusiasts, but life is more exciting when you are different than the rest. We can say one thing for sure: Lou's flat black hatch is definitely unique compared to the rest, which is another cliché statement for a tuning magazine.

Behind the Build

Lou Roc

Impp 1304 01 o+2008 subaru STI GRB+interior Photo 11/15   |   2008 Subaru STI GRB - Combo Breaker


Industry, CA

Owner of Amplified Motorsport

Golf, cars

Build time
6 months


"To build a show car that I can have fun with at the track."

2008 Subaru STI GRB

342 whp / 363 lb-ft of torque

Engine M7 Japan Carbon induction air intake box, front-mount intercooler, blow-off valve, oil cooler, magnetic oil filter, quad titanium exhaust system, and Pro Racing oil 15W-50; Invidia downpipe; Synergy 20G turbo, fuel pump, turbo elbow, and equal-length header; HKS super racing spark plugs and Hyper Twin DLI Ignition; Koyo V-Series radiator; Yimisport ECU reflash

Impp 1304 05 o+2008 subaru STI GRB+M7 japan carbon induction air intake box Photo 12/15   |   2008 Subaru STI GRB - Combo Breaker

Drivetrain Competition clutch; Kartboy short shifter; MXP Titanium shift knob; M7 Japan 75W-90 gear oil

Suspension M7 Japan coilovers and camber plates; Whiteline sway bars, endlinks, strut tower bars, and roll center adjusters

Wheels/Tires Yokohama Advan TC-3 Gunmetal (18x9.5 +40), Yokohama Advan AD08 Tires (245/40-18); Project Kics R26 Neo Lug Nuts

Brakes Brembo STI calipers; Project Mu Club Racer pads; Goodridge stainless steel braided brake lines; M7 Japan brake fluid; custom 2-piece slotted rotors

Exterior 3M 1080P vinyl wrap; 3M Crystalline tint by Tintfactory; Seibon carbon front lip, rear spoiler, and hood; HKS Kansai side spats and rear diffuser

Interior M7 Japan EBC R boost controller and Touch race gauges; GPS lap timer; Eclipse GPS head unit; Image Dynamics speakers; and Zapco amp

Gratitude "Amplified Motorsport, M7 Japan, Mackin Industries, Seibon Carbon, and Spocom. Special thanks to my techs at Amplified Motorsports, Ket, Jay, and Paul!"


Mackin Industries
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
Seibon Carbon
City of Industry, CA 91745
Amplified Motorsport
City of Industry, CA 91746
By Steve Enomoto
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