Motoring News 16.4.2014 10:00 am

RGM supercharged Subaru BRZ tested

The Subaru BRZ is quite a machine. It is rear wheel driven, relatively lightweight and produces 154kW of power at a heady 7 000rpm and 205Nm of torque also at a high 6 400 – 6 600 rpm in its standard naturally aspirated guise

And this sees you having a great deal of fun in the twisties with a relative amount of straight line performance.

I say relative because due to the lack of power enhancing oxygen up on the Reef the BRZ is never going to light up the time sheets. A similarly powered turbocharged car, which does not suffer nearly as much from this problem, will leave it for dead to be blunt.

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The car costs a cool R399 900 in six speed manual format and R409 000 if you opt for the six speed SportShift automatic from a dealership. But if you have a further R75 000 lying around you can force the air into the engine and gain some much needed horsepower courtesy of supercharging experts, RGMotorsport in Randburg.

RGMotorsport has done over 30 of these upgrades already and one of them came to me to test courtesy of Subaru SA themselves along with a couple of other little extras fitted at the Subaru workshops like upgraded WRX brakes and discs, snazzy WRX wheels and body kit. Although this car is not a production model and is a car that has been built and used by Subaru SA to have a bit of fun with, you could in essence go to a dealer and specify all the bits and pieces and have them fitted.

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Standard equipment includes a performance exhaust from Subaru, a rear spoiler, alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights, keyless access and starting, dual-zone climate control, seven airbags and five-mode VDC (Vehicle Dynamics Control) along with a three-year/ 100 000 km warranty and a generous five-year/105 000 km maintenance plan.

It must be noted though that once you fit the RGM supercharger kit you will lose your Subaru SA warranty and maintenance plan and the RGM six-month/20 000 km warranty kicks in to cover the supercharger and related issues. But you do retain a three-year/75 000 km Subaru SA service plan to ensure your car is correctly serviced and maintained as per their schedules.

So, to the test data, the model offered to me was the six-speed automatic and let us be straight, this is not the model I would opt to own from the start. But it was the only one that Subaru SA had as their previous manual supercharged one had been destroyed in an accident. I had not tested an auto BRZ or Toyota 86 at this stage, but the road test data supplied by RGM suggested the auto was not quick at all with times that saw 100 km/h come up in a leisurely 10 seconds, the 160 km/h mark at almost 25 seconds and stopping at a mere 205 km/h.

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The biggest problem is the lack of a launch control function to shoot the car off the line. I don’t do left foot braking launch starts on non launch control cars, so you have to floor the accelerator and wait for the car to get going like a normal person would do on the road. Despite this hindrance the RGM car now gets to 100 km/h in a much better 7.60 seconds, 160 km/h some 10 seconds quicker at 16.47 seconds while now only stopping at a massively better true speed 251.43 km/h thanks to the 220kW and 315Nm on tap.

There was only one negative at this stage, the standard car is quite fuel efficient, and this BRZ went through fuel like crazy, and this was even while driving relatively normally. I never got much below 10 litres per 100 km and averaged 11.9 litres per 100 km, which only gives you around 420 km on a 50 litre tank of fuel. I spoke to the guys at RGM and they say that they have had no complaints from their customers. So maybe it was just this particular car.

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RGM have achieved the road test figures shown here with the help of a Vortech bolt-on blower, imported from the US in kit form and fitted in their workshop by a team of skilled technicians. In fact this conversion, in which every nut, bolt and washer comes in a box which also contains an intercooler, is really simple by RGM’s standards.

Forcing the air into the intercooler is a V-3 H67BC centrifugal supercharger and this particular unit is designed specifically for the horizontally-opposed FA20 Boxer engine. The package incorporates a generously-sized airbox and an optimised filter housing which allows for additional flow while retaining the factory cold air ram intake.

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The final piece of the puzzle is the fitment is a UniChip auxiliary engine management computer that is used to remap ignition, air and fuel requirements, ensuring consistent power and reliability when running on standard 95 octane pump fuel.

All in all I think the RGMotorsport supercharger kit does exactly what it says on the box, it adds some much needed power to the high revving Subaru BRZ at a competitive price. But there are a few downsides to this story and that is you say good bye to your factory warranty and maintenance plan and then when you add all the bits and pieces together, you get a car that will cost you close on R500 000, and for this money you are well into serious top of the range hot hatch/coupe type territory.

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