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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
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Most recent photo with stock FXT scoop and grill mod;




Background

I purchased my 2007 Forester XT Ltd. 4EAT/MPT in Newport Pearl Blue new in January of 2007. At the time I had a 2006 WRX 5MT that I very much enjoyed, but needed something a bit more "practical." I wanted another 5MT, but this 4EAT model was on the lot with a price offer I couldn't turn down. This was my '06 WRX.

From the outset, stealth was the name of the game for all of the mods I have done with the FXT - I wanted to keep it a "sleeper." My modification goals were as follows;


  • To be capable of running the quarter mile in under 13 seconds
  • To handle as well or better than any other SUV on the road
  • To enhance interior comfort, appearance and overall ride quality
  • To maximize winter weather capability
  • To retain full daily-driving practicality and utility
In pursuit of those goals, the complete list of mods is listed below.

Mod Notes

“Modding” a vehicle involves many choices – sometimes too many. For this reason (and based on first-hand experience), I decided to set my expectations before moving forward with the purchase of any hardware. Below are some thoughts on how I went about modifying my Forester (full mod list further down this post);

Handling – the Forester carries a lot more mass higher than a sedan and because of this, I never expected my Forester to handle like my WRX. I made the decision from the beginning to make it handle as well as possible without sacrificing ride comfort. The combination of Swift Sport springs (Forester specific) on OEM struts, 22mm anti-sway bars and a performance alignment has worked well for me. Of course, tire selection can make or break the handling (and ride comfort) of any vehicle - finding the right mix of traction, side wall stiffness and ride comfort seems a never ending process.

Ride quality (as well as handling) was greatly enhanced with the addition of bracing. Compared to my WRX, the Forester seemed to twist in every conceivable direction when driving on rough roads, something that not only impacts the perception of vehicle quality, but adversely affects handling as well. IMO, this is something that must be done in combination with any suspension performance modifications. The bracing also seems to have reduced rattles and squeaks. Here is the list of braces used in the order of their greatest impact;


  1. Subtle fender braces ("cowl stays") – no doubt these made a very noticeable difference (as they did in my WRX) and along with a set of rear subframe locking bolts, is the place to start your bracing project.
  2. Whiteline Quick Release Rear Strut Brace – the Forester does not have the benefit of a metal bulkhead in back of the rear seats like a sedan to tie the strut towers together and this brace helps address that. I used a Whiteline brace with quick-detach ends so it could be quickly removed when I needed to make use of all the available cargo space. There are more effective and elaborate braces available, but will compromise your ability to carry stuff in the cargo area.
  3. GTSpec 4 Points Front Ladder Bar – though not as noticeable as the first two braces, it gave my Forester a more solid feel driving over rough roads (we have plenty of those in frost-heaved NH). I highly recommend this brace and in combination with the first two, will make a very noticeable difference in a Forester.
  4. GTSpec Front Strut Brace – more bling than anything else, I cannot feel any difference in normal road driving.
  5. Subtle Trunk Brace – same as the front strut brace, but at least was quick and easy to install.

Sound deadening - the installation of RAAMaudio sound deadening in all four doors and cargo area certainly reduced cabin noise and enhanced the sound quality of my after-market audio system. It also reduced cabin noise from the MadDad Whisper exhaust, but it can still be heard (and appreciated) without any droning. I used about 30 pounds of material and found it to be a very worthy mod.

The combined results of the suspension mods, bracing and sound deadening truly transformed my Forester, greatly improving its handling, providing a more solid feel on rough roads and giving the Forester a higher quality “feel” and driving experience. To place this in perspective, our son in-law drives a late model BMW X5 and though its loaded amenities, it has nothing on my modded Forester in terms of performance, handling or ride quality.

Here is the complete list of modifications;

Engine

IHI VF48 turbo
Perrin TMIC
Aquamist HFS3 Water/Methanol Injection
SPT Heat Shield
PTP Turbo Blanket
Samco turbo inlet
Perrin BOV hose
Subtle Splitter modified for IC sprayer and stock FXT hood scoop
Subtle Hood Struts
Subtle Radiator Shroud
Grimmspeed PnP/ceramic coated exhaust manifolds
Grimmspeed Air-Oil Separator
MadDad catted bellmouth DP
MadDad Forester-specific 3-inch Whisper cat-back
Kartboy Exhaust Hangers
KillerB oil pickup tube
Walbro 342 fuel pump
Northstar Group 35 AGM battery
274 WHP - 344 ft/lbs, open source tune by EFI Logics
A review of the MadDad exhaust can be found here.

I installed an Aquamist HFS-3 water/meth injection system. Using Autozone -20 degree windshield washer fluid (about 30% methanol, the remainder water) and with a re-tune, the car produces 274 WHP and 344 ft./lbs. of torque on the EFI Logics Mustang Dyno. The graph below shows the gains using the system;



Update May 1, 2011

I had the opportunity to get the Foz on a different dyno, a Land & Sea DYNOmite unit this past weekend. Word has it that this is a very low reading dyno. The only change from the graph above is that I went to a 50% meth/50% distilled water mix for the injection. The car has not been retuned for the new mix, but it feels like the ECU has adjusted to take advantage of the higher octane. On this dyno, the car put down 268 WHP and 360 ft./lbs. torque;



Performance

Best run to date - 12.966 at 105.94 MPH, with a nearly 2-second 60' time. I believe with a more agressive launch, it's capable of doing 12.7s.



Transmission

4EAT with Variable Torque Distribution transfer case, installed June 2015 (standard on 2007 and 2008 Forester XT Sports model)


Rear Differential

With Viscous Limited Slip (standard on 2007 Forester XT Ltd)


Brakes

Carbotech 1521 Pads
Centric Premium Rotors
G2 Caliper Coating (silver)
Grimmspeed MC Brace


Suspension & Handling

Swift Sport Springs
Whiteline 22mm RSB (adjustable) with STi mounts and mo_boost support brackets
Whiteline 22mm FSB (fixed)
Kartboy Links
Whiteline subframe locking bolts
Whiteline Quick Release Rear Strut Brace
Whiteline steering rack bushings
Subtle fender braces ("cowl stays")
Subtle Trunk brace
GTSpec Front Strut Brace
GTSpec 4 Points Front Ladder Bar
P215/55R-17 Goodyear Eagle Sport on Steel Grey Rota Tarmac 2 wheels (3 seasons)
P225/55R-17 Nokian Hakkapeliitta R on factory alloys (winter)
Performance alignment - minus 1.5 degrees camber all four corners, zero toe

Exterior

Forester Sports Front Bumper
Forester Sports grille
'08 Sports black tail lights
'08 Sports black headlights with Philips Vision Plus high beam bulbs
Hella Rallye 4000 Compact Driving Lights with 100 watt bulbs
Tint - 50% front windows, 35% rear windows and moon roof
Rally Armor UR mud flaps

Interior

Aquamist HFS-3 Gauge
AEM Digital Boost Gauge
Subtle Gauge Bezel
Shifter boot mod with WC Lathe Werks custom knob, center differential (VTD) lock switch
Lloyd Luxe Carpet Floor Mats (front)
Weathertech floor liners (rear)
Lloyd Luxe Carpet Cargo Mat
Sound Deadening (RAAMaudio - Automotive sound deadening products)

Audio

Pioneer AVH-P4100DVD with SIRIUS and iPod
Polk DB 6501 components (front) powered by Rockford Fosgate P400-2 amp
Kenwood KFC-1362S 5-1/4" 3-way door speakers powered from HU
Infinity Basslink (installed in spare tire well)

Awards & Recognition

June 2008 SubaruForester.org Calendar Selection
2010 Wicked Big Meet Car Show - 1st Place, Performance Category
January 2011 NES ROTM
January 2011 SubaruForester.org FOTM
NES Super Meet 7 - Best Form Award
Granite State Subaru Meets, March 16 - Daily Driver category, 2nd Place
2016 SF.org Calendar Selection








 

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That WRX doesn't scream "pull me over" to me.
But Im not a Law Enforcement Officer.

The Forester is like the 80's era Volvo 240 Turbo Wagons...
A REAL "Q Ship"

(BTW - I have similar mods planned)
 

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why do the automatics pull such low # on the dyno
i was there last week and had a 06 wrx that was completely stock pull better #s then my 06 xt 4eat with a dp and cobb stage 2 map?he pulled almost 25 more hp then me :icon_frown:
 

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great looking ride so far. I think with that color a nice set of steel gray rotas would look awesome. either the tarmac3's or the new sf.org favorite svn's.

how do you like the maddad and how quiet is it really. I am not really feeling my wbr 3in since it is a little on the loud side
 

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Discussion Starter #10
why do the automatics pull such low # on the dyno
i was there last week and had a 06 wrx that was completely stock pull better #s then my 06 xt 4eat with a dp and cobb stage 2 map?he pulled almost 25 more hp then me :icon_frown:
That's a good question but I will tell you this - up until last weekend my FXT would have stood no chance against my Cobb Stage 1 5MT '06 WRX. Now, it's the other way around. I wouldn't let the dyno numbers be the "tell all" criteria.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
how do you like the maddad and how quiet is it really. I am not really feeling my wbr 3in since it is a little on the loud side
I'm liking the 3-inch Whisper. Plenty of sound when on the go-pedal but at 65 to 70 MPH cruising on the highway with the windows up, it's really not much different than my stock exhaust with the STi axleback. Cruising around town in the 30 to 40 MPH range with the windows down it really shines - great tone/boxer rumble without going overboard on the DBs. The tone is deep and smooth with no raspiness at all.

I will attempt to shoot a video inside the car and post it in this thread.

Thanks to all for taking the time to comment!
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
After 58,000 miles I finally had to replace the brakes. A full report can be found here.

A few photos showing my newly painted brake calipers.

Edit - photos below are of Yokohama Advan S4 tires in P225/55-17 on the OEM alloys. The wheel/tire "boat anchor" combo weigh in at about 52 pounds each!







 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
great looking ride so far. I think with that color a nice set of steel gray rotas would look awesome. either the tarmac3's or the new sf.org favorite svn's.
Vinny, just ordered a set of Tarmac 2s in steel gray. I was going to do the T3s, but decided to stick with 17s. Will post pics as soon as they're on!

Edit 10/27/2009

I installed a set of Tarmac 2s (17 X 7.5, ET48) today in Steel Grey. Tires are Advan S4s in P235/50-17. With the ET48 wheel, no spacers were required to clear the rear struts.

Based on research here and my experience with this wheel/tire combo, with an ET48 wheel you can fit a tire with a cross section of up to 9.5 inches. Once the cross section reaches 9.7 inches, spacers will probably be needed.

Bear in mind that for every 1/2 inch in wheel width deviation from the "measured wheel size" used to establish the cross sectional dimension of the tire, the tire's cross section will change .2 inches. So for example, if the listed cross section of the tire is 9.5 inches on a 7.5 inch wheel (like my Tarmac/Advan combo), going to an 8 inch wheel will increase the cross section to 9.7 inches.

I hope this observation is useful!

Photos below of the new wheel/tire combo. My FXT rides on Swift springs and stock struts.







 

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Discussion Starter #15
Update 12/27/09

I've made a few additions to the car since I last posted.

First, I installed '08 Sports head and tail lights (black versions). I did the parking light LED strip mod to the headlights -





I also upgraded the Alpine MRP-T220 amp that I was using to power the Polk db6501 speakers in the front doors to a Rockford Fosgate P400-2 amp. The certificate that came with the RF amp showed a measured output rating of 149 watts RMS per channel (into a 4 ohm load) at .012% THD. The Alpine amp sounded fine but the RF amp really brings the speakers to life with all of it's power reserve.

With nearly 500 watts RMS between the RF amp and the Infinity Basslink, I also had to upgrade my power distribution cables to handle the current draw.

Next up is a sports bumper conversion and auxillary light installation. I am removing my Limited bumper with factory fogs (it's been blasted pretty well from the sand and salt that goes on the roads up here in the winter) and installing a set of Hella Rallye Compact 4000 driving lights behind the grille. I will modify the factory fog light switch on the dash to operate the Hellas with the high beams. I also picked up the new fender liners to fit the sports bumper.

I will post again when the sports bumper conversion is done.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Love the color. Any engine bay shots? Take it easy with the 4EAT. :)
Thanks! I liked the Newport Pearl Blue as soon as I saw it, and I think it will look good on the sports bumper.

Not much to look at under the hood - yet. I am 90% sure that I'm going to do the following at the same time I do the bumper:

1. New TMIC - if I can get hold of the APS unit, that's what I'll use.
2. APS 65mm CAI. May as well do it when I have the bumper off and the fender liner out!
3. Gimmick MS turbo inlet and afterMAF hose.
4. Some Subtle engine bay dress-up pieces.

Once that's done, engine bay shots will follow!

Yes, I don't beat on the car. I treat the driveline with "mechnical compassion" so hopefully it will last for a while.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Have you noticed any performance gains with the whisper exhaust?
On that Friday night when I pulled the car into the garage, it had the stock turbo (TD04), stock TMIC and stock exhaust with STi axleback.

When I pulled the car out of the garage on Monday to go have it tuned, it had a new VF48 turbo, a STi TMIC and the MadDad DP and 3-inch Whisper exhaust. I purposely did not go into boost, but the off-boost, sub 3000 RPM throttle response was hugely improved.

When I pulled it back into the garage Monday after the tune, it was a beast!

No doubt, the MadDad DP and exhaust played a role in that. Under the circumstances, I just can't quantify it.
 
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