Herman Au Photography

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Welcome to my blog! I'm a professional wedding photographer based in Los Angeles California. Follow my footsteps in turning my life long hobby into a career I love, and check out my latest work, newest products, teasers, and photography tutorials. I shoot in an unobtrusive photojournalistic style with an emphasis on natural and genuine emotions. You can find my portfolio on my website - http://www.hermanau.com.

Monday, October 11, 2004


Definitely a good read, interesting insight in this post (sorry OP i can't find the original thread):

All of us are forgetting the main advantage of the Auto-WRX: the AWD system itself. When we talk of "Rally Proven", the "proof" is actually missing in the Manual-WRX. Here is the reason why:

The VTD-AWD system of the Auto-WRX is the most advanced AWD system of Subaru, with a true torsen (torque sensing) planetary gear center differential, which works in association with electronically controlled continuously variable multi-plate clutch-packs. The torque split is at 45/55, with a slight rear bias in power, in normal driving, unless more is needed front or back. This system equals in sophistication and effectiveness, the best AWD systems currently available in the market including the Audi Quattro (not the "Quattro" present in the Audi TT, which is inferior to the VTD-AWD). The VTD-AWD system is conceptually identical to the AWD system present in the World Rally Conquering Subarus, the significant difference being that the WRC cars have driver adjustable torque splits and are much more of a heavy duty kind. The hardware otherwise is identical in design. The Rally Subarus also have a true auto-manual transmission, which is actually a clutch-less manual, but the underlying AWD system is better adaptable to the Auto-WRX, not the manual-WRX, due to which the manual-WRX soldiers on with an AWD system that is essentially tractor-technology. "Gets the job done" but nothing to write home about.

The other Auto-Subarus do not have the torque-sensing center differential and drive more like a FWD car in normal driving.

The manual WRX on the other hand, has the same Viscous coupling AWD system present in all other manual Subarus, which is a reactive system, as opposed to the proactive nature of the VTD-AWD system of the Auto-WRX. The viscous fluid which is used to transfer torque front/back needs slippage before it can react and transfer torque. Also, since differential lock is acheived due to the viscous fluid being twisted (unlike the torque sensing incredibly sturdy planetary gear differential in the Auto-WRX), the torque-transfer is both slow and in-efficient. The AWD system of the manual WRX cannot be compared with the Audi Quattro or any other sophisticated AWD system. It does not have the breadth of operation (cannot transfer the amount of torque front/back like the VTD-AWD), the reactiveness (reacts slowly due to its very Viscous coupling nature) or the rapid torque transfer characteristics (due to the "reactive" nature of the system) of the VTD-AWD equipped Auto-WRX. With the Viscous coupling AWD system present in the manual-WRX, Subaru certainly would not be winning many rallys....just a heads-up.

Everything else remaining the same, I would have preferred a manual in the WRX. But in this particular case, everything else is not the same. Far, far from it. Let us face it - we admire these cars for their AWD systems and not for their "manual gear shift capability". So on that criteria, the Manual-WRX has a huge and glaring deficit.

About a year after I posted this, I actually went ahead and installed a modified torque converter by ProTorque to try to improve my WRX's low end power. The part cost me something around $500, and it cost me almost as much to have it professionally installed. The results are nothing short of impressive. It's very hard to describe how it performs differently, but let's just say that it feels like you're revving up your engine a bit while slowly releasing your clutch, and yes it feels just like that. It also allows you to brake-torque (holding your brakes while pressing the gas) to a higher RPM. I sometimes do it to about 2k-2.5k rpm and it makes the initial stop and go feel much stronger, and for the first time I can feel the AWD launch from an automatic.

After a while I got all used to it, and I figure the ride is too smooth and I can't exactly feel the turbo kicking in anymore. No lag is supposed to be a good thing, but driving a turbo car without the turbo lag makes me feel like something is wrong. I should have re-calibrated my butt-dyno, but I found a pretty good deal on a used VF30 and injectors, and did a turbo swap. A few hundred dollars later, I regained the turbo lag I originally hated and then got rid of. The car now has much stronger top end power and it can pull all the way to red line STRONG instead of tapering off somewhere around 5k with the stock TD04 turbo. It's now tamer, and more controllable, but once unleashed it's just ferocious and hard to control. Do I like it? Of course I'll never say no to power. But is it suitable for the roads and do I feel it's necessary, the short answer is no. It probably would be better to keep the TD04 and Torque Converter setup for everyday driving, but if it's a sunday car for you? Do it!

At the end of the day, I picked up a different interest and started my journey in photography. I still love my WRX, and I try to combine both interest and shoot cars as often as I can. But I think I came to the end of my journey in the endless quest of tuning my car. I might have done things differently if I had all the knowledge I gained from all this. But then again, today I'm driving a VF30 WRX that will not lose to a 5MT WRX... trust me, it's fast. :)