Custom Search

Friday, June 05, 2015

N isn't just for Neutral: GrpN shift-linkage for the MY06 Subaru STI S204

We've sworn to keep the S204 as stock as possible, and to be fair the workshops we frequent in Singapore (Espace and Applied Performance) also tell us the same, but then we'd been hearing a lot of good things about STI's GpN shift-linkage (STI: 350104S050 / Gear Shift Link), so we placed an order for it from Japanparts, together with a hard-pillow mount (STI: ST35036ST000) to use with it.
(yeah, that's the S204 in the background)

We can't say this enough times: This isn't just a short-shift kit. What it does is to replace all the soft, squishy bits in the S204's original linkage with hard-points so there's less flex and give, which returns fantastic feel, precision and weighting during shifting that is more mechanical than the original's slightly-rubbery.
(original S204's shift linkage is on top, the GpN part is below)

(left is the GpN part, right is original)

Best of all, each gear is now engaged with a satisfying 'snikt' (it's pretty hard to discern the shift quality from the video, but you can just about hear it.

As far as upgrades go, and coupled to the relatively low JPY versus the SGD when we ordered it, this is possibly the best S$500 I've ever spent. There's slightly more vibration and you feel everything a lot more, but then we're not buying these cars to drive slowly and quietly so that wasn't a huge deal-breaker for me.

Trust me when I say this 'simple' mod will make you want to drive your car so much more. Of course, it's not just applicable to the S204; I'd reckon it's the same kit for the 'hawkeye' 'pig-nose' generation of STIs with the 6spd manual transmission, but naturally, check with your respective garages/workshops/tuners to be safe.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Z Visitor : Nissan 350Z (Fairlady Z)


did a 'for fun' shoot for a visiting friend and put together a simple montage.

See a drive review on this car's successor, the 370Z, HERE

covering my bases (again!)

during a short run out for breakfast, the sunny weather wreaked havoc on the tactile rubber inserts in the car (over just 1.5 hours! from 10 to 1230pm), so the climate control bits are starting to peel.

i was shopping around online for a fitted cover for the car (had a good experience with the covercraft all-weather NOAH car-cover so was thinking of going down that route), but the wife suggested using the one from the 190 E 2.3-16 instead since the cars were pretty much the same size.

what do you know? it fits pretty snug and accommodates the rear wing well, with even the wing mirrors slotting nicely into the cover's mirror pockets. Funny thing, cos it wouldn't fit the W202 C-Class i was running for a short while, which you'd have imagined would have been a better match.


Friday, August 19, 2011

My turn to be on scooby snacks...

Well, we were really enamoured of the S204 when we first drove it back in 2006 (see HERE and HERE) and there were at least two of us who were prepared to buy one for an attractive enough price. Sad to say, fate was not on our side so we moved back to Hondas instead.


Fast forward to 2011, one of the S204s that I had my (hawk) eye on finally came up for sale and after a great deal of reluctance on the original owner's part (how can we blame him?!) we finally sealed the deal on 17th Aug. 2011.

This example was originally registered in 2008 (manufacturing year is 2006, instead of 2 additional deals, MIE ended up exporting most of the 30 S204s due to their 'innovative' pricing strategy.)

To date, the one-owner car (mileage when taken over was just under 24,000 km) remains in original condition save for a full Cusco underbody brace, larger STi 12litre reservoir (for the intercooler spray) in the trunk and 6pot front/4pot rear AP Racing big-brake kit. Apparently, this full set-up with the all-round larger rotors weigh-in lighter than the stock Brembo system.


The original Pirelli PZero Corsa tyres from 2006 were buggered by the time this car was registered in 2008, so the owner slapped on a set of Michelin PS3s, which still have plenty of life left in them. At next change, we're likely to switch to Michelin Super Sports, since we've heard loads of good things about them, for both road and track use.


Otherwise, everything you see on the car is bone-stock, which includes the dry carbon front lip, rear diffuser, brushed aluminium finish wing mirrors, lightweight forged BBS alloys and the Titanium STi exhaust system that gives the car a delicious rasp during full-bore runs. Of course the gorgeous carbonfibre reclining Recaro SP-Xs are still there, while the other addition to the cabin is the defi triple gauge cluster (mounted in a Zero/Sports pod) that doesn't block out the digital clock.


We even managed to get a matching black-grey Recaro Start iQ baby-seat from Exotic Tuner to go with the leather/alcantara interior as well. (Incidentally, check out the carbonfibre weave on the backs of the front seats...!)


Fast Facts : Subaru Impreza S204
Engine: 1994cc, 16-valves, flat-4
Maximum power: 320bhp at 6400rpm
Maximum torque: 432Nm at 4400rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Wheelbase: 2540mm
LxBxH: 4475 x 1740 x 1410mm
Kerbweight: 1450kg
0-100km/h: 4.5 seconds (claimed)
Top speed: 248km/h (claimed)
YOM: 2006
Rescued and registered: 18th July 2008

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mini Golf : VW Golf 1.2 7-Speed DSG

It's easy enough to see how the many variants of the VW Golf has become such a firm favourite amongst its legion of fans. The term 'Volkswagen', or 'People's Car' has never been more apt with more and more car buyers in Singapore looking towards the German brand due to a combination of factors.

The favourable Euro is just one element (although this doesn't necessarily mean a proportionately reduced MSRP to reflect this :p); couple this to the high Yen and there's been a general exodus towards European marques, since the average man-in-the-street has a tendency to equate Continental as 'higher class' than anything Japanese.

Not forgetting the COE component (mandatory in the purchase of new cars in Singapore), which in recent times, has spiked up such that Cat B (1600cc and larger) cars is now in the SGD$40k region and Cat A (less than 1600cc) is about SGD$10k less.


The next ace up VW's sleeve is the relatively small engine capacities that are available in a variety of body-shapes; these Golf and Jettas are endowed with just enough forced induced punch to make sure the VW owner doesn't lose out to turbo-diesel'd taxis or uncles in their Camrys in the traffic light grand prix - not that we're accusing VW owners of such shenanigans, of course.

Take the 1.2L engine in this test Golf, for instance... Mated to a 7-speed DSG transmission, shopping duties and general errand-running has never been easier.

Don't be mistaken into thinking the car is lacking in grunt either, because it makes perfect sense in a built-up city-state like Singapore, where more time is spent spurting from one traffic light to the next, or in some cases, one bumper to the next in one of the many interminable gridlocks that surface during peak hour travel.

Best of all, the road tax you pay is for a 1.2L ($508 for 1 year iirc, so 10 years is $5080), never mind that this car has all the potency (if not more) of a naturally aspirated 1.6L... having said that, VW's offer to pick up the road tax (for the life of the car?) for new buyers is still a pretty nifty gimmick.


The cabin is comfortable and decently appointed for use as a daily runabout, which means climate control keeps the occupants well-chilled and the factory stereo is sufficient to keep us bopping to the latest tunes in the course of our daily commutes.

The bottle-cap opener first seen on the Golf5 can also be found in the latest version and can be used to separate the centre cubbyhole as dual cupholder or fits flat and snugly into the purpose-built niche in that same bin.


Unlike some of its more sportier brethren, there are no steering wheel paddles to work the DSG, so one has to make do with stirring the gear lever instead if the intention is to really feel 'involved' with the car (although we still say, if it's involvement you really want, buy a manual transmission instead...!)

For the most part, we left the DSG to its own devices, since we found the ratios well suited to city progress. Besides, we always enjoy driving cars as they were intended to be driven (in this case, a perfectly inoffensive A-B car).

One thing that does take some getting used to is the 1.2's low-speed manners.

Initially, there's a feeling that the gas pedal is disconnected from the engine; keep it planted, or even worse, apply more pressure and the car lurches forward. Having driven some of the other variants, we kind of knew what to expect so we pussy-footed around in low-speed manoeuvres.


Fast Facts : VW Golf 1.2 TSI DSG-7

Engine: 1197cc, 16-valves
Maximum power: 105bhp at 5000rpm
Maximum torque: 175Nm at 1550-4100rpm
Transmission: 7-Speed DSG
Wheelbase: 2578mm
LxBxH: 4199 x 1786 x 1479mm
Kerbweight: 1189kg (no driver)
0-100km/h: 10.6 seconds
Top speed: 190km/h
Test Mileage covered: approximately 118km
Agent: Volkswagen Centre Singapore, tel.: +65-6474-8288
Price: SGD$93,800 (accurate as of 25th August 2010)

Monday, January 18, 2010

I Can C Clearly Now : Lexus IS250C


the cream leather interior is sumptuous but we can see that keeping it pristine could be a problem for daily drivers. The Luxury edition includes sports pedals as well, while the steering wheel mounted paddles adds sporting cred to this svelte coupe-cabriolet.


roof deploys in approx. 21 seconds.


Seat air-conditioning essential in our hot weather with the roof down! Standard on the Luxury edition



Space is decent enough for 2 adults in the back with rear three-quarter windows that work independently of the front.

The chassis is surprisingly well sorted too; we've driven loads of hard-top convertibles that look much better than they drive... and that's another thing about this IS-C; pictures don't really do the car justice since it's actually quite well proportioned in real life.

The damping is firm and even with the top down, the chassis feels satisfyingly rigid with no sense of scuttleshake or 'looseness' that plague the offerings from certain other marques.

The only downside is the added weight of the roof and mechanism, which blunts the straightline performance somewhat, but true to Lexus form, the engine is creamy smooth on the move.


Fast Facts : Lexus IS250C Luxury
Engine: 2500cc, 24-valves, V6
Maximum power: 205bhp at 6400rpm
Maximum torque: 252Nm at 4800rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
0-100km/h: 9.0 seconds
Top Speed: 208 km/h
LxBxH: 4635 x 1800 x 1415 mm
Wheelbase: 2730mm
Kerbweight: 1730kg
Agent: Borneo Motors (Lexus Division), tel.: 65-6378-8811
Price: approx. S$211k

Friday, November 27, 2009

All Bases Covered : NOAH car-cover

This came home with us after our short trip to Honolulu last week.

I ordered it via and checked it in on our way back to Singapore.

Today's on-off wet weather gave me an opportunity to try it out.

yeah, it may be just another outdoor car cover but after using the cheap stuff you get off-the-rack, it was pretty cool to have a fitted, model-specific wrap for the 190E, especially one that can be used rain or shine (given the vagaries of Singapore's temperamental weather) .

A little bit more info about the NOAH fabric here:

Some wrinkles on the back, but otherwise fits like a glove; there's even some 'give' in front for the three-pointed star.

Next to it is the Fiat Cinquecento (also wrapped in NOAH)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Brake-dancing : Brembo Rotors

Well, i've been shopping around for spares for the car and it's surprisingly NOT as arduous as one might imagine.

a quick check on threw up the model code i needed for the front rotors, which happily enough, were in stock.

Price was tasty too and plenty friendly on the wallet, a big surprise considering these are Brembo items.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Keen Blade : Bosch Twin


One of the more endearing characteristics of the 190E has to be its single arm wiper blade.

when we first took over the car, the sweep action wasn't as smooth as we've have expected.

it wasn't until last week that i decided to buy a replacement blade... and inadvertently found out that the one that was on the car was a little too long.

it's all good now, and the sweep action has never been slicker.


Sunday, October 04, 2009

Pedal Power : OMP Pedals

Well the stock rubber pedal covers were really starting to wear out and i spotted this OMP set sitting around with a direct replacement for the 190E's floor-mounted accelerator pedal, so these went on the car after a short deliberation... lol

No cheap 'clip-on' replica pedals here; drilling is required and the set comes with 6 screws for mounting.

Drop me a line if there's any interest: only for cars with floor-mounted gas pedals.

An overall picture of the cabin:

Fast Facts : OMP ref. OA/1010 sports pedals
Finish: Sand Blasted Aluminium
Brake: 60 x 100 mm
Accelerator: 60 x 210 mm
Certification: ECE35