Can a Short Ram Intake System Provide Significant Horsepower Gains in a Subaru Impreza WRX STI?

April 17, 2024

As proud owners of a Subaru Impreza WRX STI, you will likely be interested in ways to boost your car’s overall performance, and perhaps more specifically, its horsepower. One method often discussed in car enthusiast circles is the installation of a short ram intake system. But the question remains: Can this modification actually provide significant horsepower gains?

Understanding the Role of a Short Ram Intake System

Before diving into the depth of the short ram intake system and its potential effects on horsepower, it’s important to understand its role in your WRX STI. In essence, a short ram intake system is a type of air intake system that is designed to draw in more cold air to your car’s engine. The principle behind this is the idea that colder, denser air contains more oxygen, which can help to improve combustion and, in turn, engine performance.

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A short ram intake system typically consists of an aluminum tube with an air filter on one end. The tube is configured so that it leads directly to the engine’s throttle body. As the system is exposed, it pulls in hotter air from the engine bay, which is then cooled by the ram effect at higher speeds. This system is named after its ‘short’ design, which is a direct, shorter path for the intake compared to the stock air intake system.

Comparing the Short Ram Intake to the Stock Intake

The stock intake your Subaru Impreza WRX STI comes with is designed to be efficient and quiet, but it’s not always the most performance-oriented piece of equipment. It uses a long tube with multiple bends and a restrictive air filter to help reduce the intake noise, which can limit the volume of air and its velocity entering the engine.

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By contrast, a short ram intake system offers a more direct, less restrictive path for the air to enter the engine. The aluminum tubing is smooth and straight, which reduces turbulence and allows more air to be drawn in. The air filter in the short ram intake is also typically larger and less restrictive than the stock filter. This means it can capture more contaminants without obstructing the air flow.

The Effect of a Short Ram Intake System on Horsepower

A short ram intake system can, in theory, boost horsepower in your WRX STI. By drawing in more air, and particularly more cold air, the engine is provided with more oxygen. This can enhance the combustion process, generating more power and thus increasing horsepower.

However, it’s important to remember that the gains may not be as significant as you might hope. In fact, many experts suggest that the horsepower gains will likely be in the range of 5-20hp, depending on the specific model of your car and the quality of the short ram intake system installed.

Choosing the Right Short Ram Intake System: Injen vs. Other Brands

When it comes to short ram intake systems, not all are created equal. The quality of the materials used, the design of the system, and its compatibility with your specific car model can all impact its effectiveness.

Injen is a brand that is widely respected in the world of car modifications. They specialize in performance air intake systems, including short ram intakes. Injen’s systems are crafted from high-quality aluminum and are designed for a precise fit, which can help to maximize the potential benefits.

However, it’s crucial to consider the potential warranty implications. Some car manufacturers will void the warranty if aftermarket modifications are detected. Hence, it’s vital to check the specific terms of your Subaru’s warranty before making any changes.

Installation of a Short Ram Intake System: What to Expect

The installation of a short ram intake system in your Subaru Impreza WRX STI is typically a straightforward process, and can often be done with basic hand tools. However, it’s always advisable to entrust this task to a professional, especially if you’re not confident in your abilities.

The process generally involves removing the stock intake system, including the air filter and intake tube, and then installing the new short ram intake in its place. Depending on the specific system you choose, you may also need to connect some additional components, such as a heat shield or air box.

Once installed, you may notice a change in the sound of your engine – it might become slightly louder due to the increased air intake. However, many car enthusiasts enjoy this more aggressive engine note.

In conclusion, while the horsepower gains from installing a short ram intake system in your Subaru Impreza WRX STI might not be dramatic, they can certainly add up, especially when combined with other performance-enhancing modifications. Moreover, the improved engine sound and aesthetics of a short ram intake system can be appealing benefits in their own right. As always, make sure you’re informed about potential warranty implications and rely on professional installation to ensure the best results.

Optimal Installation Practices for a Short Ram Intake System

In order to get the most out of your short ram intake system, it’s essential to ensure that it’s correctly installed. For your Subaru Impreza WRX STI, a well-fitted air intake can offer the best possible performance boost.

The installation process involves replacing the stock intake with the new short ram system. This typically involves removing the original air filter and intake tube, then fitting the new intake system in its place. The new system usually includes a larger, less restrictive air filter and a straighter, less restrictive intake tube.

Extra components, such as a heat shield or an air box, may come with certain intake systems. The heat shield helps to protect the intake from high engine bay temperatures, increasing the efficiency of the intake by allowing it to draw in cooler air. An air box serves a similar function, shielding the intake from engine bay heat while also providing a space for air to accumulate, creating a "reservoir" of dense, cold air for the intake to draw from.

If you’re less experienced with car modifications, it’s advised to have the intake system installed by a professional. This ensures the system is properly fitted, maximizing the performance benefits and minimizing the risk of damage to your car.

Remember, improper installation can cause harm to your vehicle, compromise performance gains, and potentially void your warranty. Thus, professional installation is key.

Conclusion: Weighing the Benefits and Drawbacks

The question of whether a short ram intake system provides significant horsepower gains in a Subaru Impreza WRX STI is not a straightforward one. Yes, the installation of a short ram intake can enhance the performance of your WRX STI. It achieves this by drawing in more air, specifically colder air, thus boosting the engine’s combustion process.

However, it’s critical to understand that the power gains might not be as substantial as you’d expect. Horsepower increases could range from around 5-20hp, varying based on the specific model of your Subaru and the quality of the short ram intake system installed.

Beyond the power gains, many owners of the Subaru WRX STI appreciate the more aggressive engine sound and the sleek look of the short ram intake system. These aspects can enhance your overall driving experience, adding to the appeal of this modification.

Yet, potential warranty complications cannot be overlooked. Some manufacturers may void your warranty if they detect aftermarket modifications. Therefore, prior to making any alterations, examine the specific terms of your Subaru’s warranty.

In the end, the decision to install a short ram intake system in your Subaru Impreza WRX STI should be influenced by your specific needs, preferences, and understanding of the potential benefits, drawbacks, and implications. Whether the upgrade is worthwhile depends on your personal perspective. If you value even minor improvements in horsepower, enjoy a sporty engine sound, and appreciate enhanced engine aesthetics, a short ram intake system might be a worthy addition to your WRX STI.