In our last update for our Ralliart Sportback project, we did a simple upgrade of swapping out our engine valve cover with that of Modified's Evo X project - not exactly hardcore tech. So to make up for this, we are going to give you a massive update, ranging from power-adders to the suspension and wheel package we've been dying to install. First up, it's a relief to see that all the products that have been long under R&D have finally reached their final production units and we're grabbing the first ones off the line. And probably like most of you, these are some of the first few mods that people do first to their cars, so we're following right in line with the masses. We think you'll be pleasantly surprised with the results.
DC Sports Exhaust, Upper Intercooler Hard Pipe and K&N Drop-In Filter
In our quest to hit stock Evo X power figures, we had to start somewhere. We learned quickly from Mike Welch at RRE that intake systems don't affect power on the Ralliart quite like it does on the Evo X (due to the variance in intake design and the way air hits the air flow sensor), but an exhaust does wonders. To keep a close-to-stock appearance, we chose DC Sports' DTS (Dual Tip System) after-cat exhaust, which is a three-piece kit made from mandrel-bent, 3'' T304 stainless steel. Compared to the stock exhaust, this shiny happy replacement eliminates all the restrictions and improves flow roughly 40%, according to DC Sports. With a couple of friends, installing this exhaust is a breeze with only a few hand tools; just give yourself 20 minutes and a willingness to work out your arms.
Next, we went back to RRE and put it up on their Dynapacks to see what kind of power improvements we'd see from the DC DTS exhaust. For those of you who are new to this project, in purely stock form, our initial runs resulted in 210hp (200.13hp corrected) and 192lb-ft (164.31lb-ft corrected). Not bad and lots of room for improvement. With just an exhaust modification alone, we saw a surprising total of 228hp (213.60hp corrected) and significant torque increases of 236lb-ft (175.37lb-ft), which gave all of us a reason to smile as it brings us that much closer to hitting our stock Evo X goal. For kicks, we also decided to install a K&N drop-in filter anyway, just to see what it would do. Even with Mike's doubts as to whether a drop-in would perform based on previous experiences, we actually came out surprised once again as we picked up an additional 2hp and saw a more smoothing effect of the power curve in higher rpm. While a K&N drop-in filter may not work wonders on all Ralliart engines, we were sold and would recommend this as an affordable modification.
Satisfied with our bump in power, we went back to DC Sports to install one more part that will be tested in the near future, an upper intercooler hard pipe that helps throttle response by eliminating the flex of the stock rubber hose (the stock hose expands as you go into boost). DC uses the same hard pipe as the Evo X but adds another coupler to it so it can fit onto the Ralliart intercooler. It's said that a minor horsepower increase will be gained with most gains seen in the midrange, plus it looks way cooler than stock, like we actually modified it! Another super huge bonus is that because it is an actual Evo X upper pipe, we'll be able to use it once we switch out for either the OEM Evo X intercooler core or aftermarket unit. Nice!
KW Variant 2 Coilovers/SSR Type F Wheels/Toyo T1R Tires
Though there are quite a few excellent choices when it comes to selecting a coilover manufacturer, it was actually more difficult to find a coilover kit for the Ralliart Sportback at all, simply because this isn't an Evo X, due mostly to differences in subframe design. But there was one company who was willing to take on the Pepsi Challenge. KW Suspension, big in the European market and gaining big ground in the US, are huge car and motorsport enthusiasts, recognized the Ralliart's tuning potential based off their Evo research on chassis stiffness, and decided to offer the Variant 2 kit solely for Ralliart buyers. Why only the Variant 2? The car isn't cheap enough to warrant Variant 1s and isn't quite the motorsport beast the Evo X is, so scratch the Variant 3. No doubt, the Variant 2 coilovers still provide superb handling without sacrificing ride quality, a crucial must-have for a street build like ours.
So what makes the Variant 2 so good? First off, shock body design - all of KW's coilovers are built from stainless steel materials with composite adjustable spring perches. That means they won't turn to crap after they take a beating from bad weather, road salt or unfavorable road conditions. KW doesn't believe in adjustable length shock bodies like others on the market, so the preset body length of a KW coilover is intended to keep you from going too low (as if that's a bad thing) and preventing your tires, fenders, chassis and control arms from turning into intimate orgy buddies. In actuality, we were surprised at how low our car went (the rear wheels tucked straight out of the box without any adjustments) - and it had room to go lower! KW coilovers also use the stock upper mounts to help reduce noise and rattles for some driving sanity, and to properly distribute the spring load across the shock mount and chassis instead of through a single point on a pillow ball mount, which it was never designed for. For more serious drivers, KW does offer upper mounts that work in conjunction with their own brand, but the stock mounts worked fine for us. In the few weeks we've had the coilovers on, the ride quality has been nothing but solid and comfortable for the street. We are sure it will be equally superb once we get out on the track, and we'll see if we can play with the rebound damping force adjustments on the V2 and dial the car in for our tastes.
Wheels. Oh boy, where do we start? So many choices out there but what will satisfy our yearning for performance and looks? SSR has been a long time favorite of our staff, from the old school mesh wheels with locking center caps to the fat 5-spoke Professors, there's no denying they produce great, classic lines. We really wanted a design that would fit the Sportback's odd shape and achieve good offset in the process. But again, since this isn't an Evo X, the fenders aren't as wide, which means we couldn't go very aggressive. After examining the stock wheel package, SSR determined that the Type F wheel in a 19x8.5'' with a +42 offset would be the maximum size we could push without having to modify the fender- wells. They probably didn't know we'd be going that low.
Since we need to get our Toyo tires installed and have the Sportback aligned, we went straight to Evasive Motorsports where the crew got to work right away so we could see what the final product would look like. The 245/35R19 T1R tires were mounted without the factory TPMS sensors installed on the SSR wheels, but we highly recommend swapping them over if you're planning to keep the car long term (unlike us, this car might not be in our possession for long so we left them on the stock wheels to save us the trouble of having to swap them back later on), just so the TPMS warnings don't drive you nuts.
Then, we lowered the car back down to make sure the wheels cleared the fenders and bam, we got it super tucked and looking ultra gangster. Everyone in the shop was a little more than shocked. The true test, however, was to see if anything rubbed, so the fat ass that I am, climbed into the trunk and bounced around - definite rubbing. That meant we had to call in the Wolf, the master fender roller of the crew, Mike Chang, to reshape the rear fenders (the front fenders cleared just fine with this offset). After a few rounds of heating, rolling and a little bit of pounding, the seemingly mild offset Type F wheels were cleared for action. The last bit we had to do was to load the car onto their computerized 4-wheel alignment rack, where camber was left untouched and toe set back to factory spec.
For the time being, we're happy to have added some very necessary horsepower and torque to the car; the DC DTS exhaust is just a tinge louder than stock and overall has a deep tone, but isn't overbearing unless you're accelerating onto a highway. What really made a difference to the car was getting it lowered - we take that back - slammed, and getting those gold SSRs on. Now the Sportback really turns heads as it keeps confusing and pleasing the masses alike. Our next steps will be figuring out how to extract more power, so make sure you stay tuned.