Review: Unibrace XB

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Back in December, I jumped on a Unibrace Group Buy on the MK6 Forums. I picked up the UB and RB braces and reviewed them thoroughly here: Unibrace UB and RB Review. After talking with Bruce@Unibrace for a while, he assured me that if I enjoyed the UB/RB combo so much, it would behoove me to get the final piece of the puzzle…..the XB. If I had to rate the prior combination (UB/RB) I’d give it a solid 5/10, in relation to the sway bars. With the addition of the XB, I’d give a mind blowing 10/10. Why? Dive in the find out.

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2013 Porsche Cayman

The gents from Stuttgart have recently unveiled their latest iteration of their midship, entry level specimen. This solid roofed variation of the Porsche Boxster (which also had its own freshening up) will be released first quarter if 2013.

Base model Caymans will be equipped with the new 2.7 liter motor good for 275bhp (up 10 from current examples) and increasing fuel economy by a little over 10% to 30mpg (highway, manual). For those wanting more, the Cayman S packs the same 3.4 liter, but with a similar bump in horsepower (325bhp, up 5bhp) and fuel economy (28mpg highway, manual).

Other noteworthy refinements come in the form of new sheet metal, redesigned, Panamera-like interior and revised head and tail lamps. Among those revisions is the addition of LED running lights, optional dynamic engine mounts and a torque vectoring limited slip differential. Also, this latest iteration is lighter, longer and wider. The general shape that we’ve all come to associates with the Cayman stays the same.

There are a slew of available options, as per Porsche tradition, to tailor your Cayman to your taste. The PDK (Porsche doppelkupplungs) or dual clutch transmission is present as well as various other options that get the delivered price well into the stratosphere like the PCCB or Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake system.

On paper, the new Cayman is promising. With a new electromechanical steering system, though, we will have to wait until the car is released to see if Porsche kept the feel that makes a Porsche, a Porsche. At any rate, Porsche continues to bridge the gap between the legendary 911 and their young, fresh Cayman making the choice that much harder.

Review: Unibrace UB and RB

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There comes a time when modding your daily that you have to tell yourself to stop. We all know that impossible, but I felt I was pretty much done with my vehicle. However, across the forums, I heard such great things about Unibrace as a company and their products that it was a battle to quench the temptation, but in the end, it won due to a group buy.
The offer was too good to pass up, so I took the plunge.

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Technical Understanding: Intakes: Stock vs. Drop In vs. Aftermarket

Its been quite a while since I’ve posted a Technical Understanding thread with some hard data and calculations to further feed our minds. Since most of the conceptual basis of the earlier threads were…..for the least bit…..theorhetical and quite possibly boring, I decided to do a little experimenting (with help from NS01GTI) to collaborate data to compare stock intake with drop ins and aftermarket intakes.

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Review: Unitronic Stage 2 DSG Tune

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Yep. Unitronic tuning on my APR K04 vehicle. While some might consider it an abomination to the vendor world and/or blasphemy, I consider it a blessing in disguise. My ultimate goal was to get a DSG tune that would fit my modding “philosophy” as well as justify its existance among the tuning world. We all know that DSG tuning is considered “optional” for K04, but with the hiccups of the stock tuning and the headaches that it can cause, when does “optional” become a need for functionality? Research time…..had begun.

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Clutch Masters FX 400 – 600 Mile Review Update

hit 600 miles this morning so it is time for an update.

Overall, I am even happier than I was 10 days ago. A few notes:

– It has quieted down even more. It still isn’t the right set-up for you if you want NO chatter, but as someone who frequently has individuals in the car that may complain about weird noises, it still works wonderfully. Noise is incredibly minimal.
- Its great in traffic. I have been driving manual for the better part of 15 years so once I got "the dance" down it became a dream. You have to be quick, but if you are quick and smooth its perfect. It reminds me of a slightly less aggressive version of the stock clutch on the Mazdaspeed 3. All that said, if you like the "lazy" feeling of the stock clutch, this might not be for you. You do have to be a bit more "present." not significantly, but a bit.
- As some of that 600 miles (probably about 1/3rd) was on the highway, I am waiting to really get on it for a while. That said, I did a couple rev matched downshifts today and they were amazing. Engine speed definitely doesn’t "hang" during shifts as much which makes rev matching super super easy. Additionally I think I was absolutely losing some power on the stock clutch even when I couldn’t feel it slipping.
- If you do as much traffic driving as I do I would strongly recommend the full face/8 puck. I wouldn’t want to drive the 6 puck in the traffic I face.

Clutchmasters FX400 8 Puck with Single Initial Review

Note that this is an INITIAL review. This will be updated every 500 miles until I hit 1,500 miles. I am doing it this way as the first 500 will be break in, the second 500 will be normal driving, then the third 500 will have a few enthusiastic drives in it. I drive about 400 miles a week, so stay tuned here over the next month for updates. This review is done at about 75 miles.

Why the FX400 8 Puck?

Choosing the clutch was the hardest part for me. I wanted something that would reliably hold K04 levels of power that was not a pain in the ass to drive in traffic. Additionally, noise was a bit of a concern as I needed something my wife wouldn’t complain about. In a sense, this isn’t asking a lot, but with the potential issue with SBC, my default "go to" was eliminated. After emailing manufactures, talking to other people, checking out other threads, I came to the conclusion that the FX400 8 puck was the best balance between holding power and driveability. In a sense, it balances it without making a compromise.

So how does it drive?

To put it simply; like a dream. My one complaint is that pedal feel is very similar (identical) to stock. Yes, this is an odd complaint, but I was hoping for a slightly firmer pedal. For many this is going to be perfect. Clutch engagement is significantly lower but is totally predictable. It is a bit of an on/off switch, but I am already accustomed to it. I was in heavy stop and go today and I didn’t have to think about it at all.

How does it sound?

For me there is really only one thing that matters with sound and that is the dreaded wife test. I have two methods of the wife test: 1) is to see if she complains about added noise over bluetooth and 2) is to see if she comments while in the car. The FX400 passes both with flying colors.

This is not to say it has NO added sound, as it has a bit. When coasting and RPMs are dropping you do get a bit of "BECAUSE RACECAR!" sound, but its not over powering at all. In fact, others likely won’t hear it. You have to be listening to it. The other factor to consider is chatter….

Chatter

I know this is probably the biggest question hanging over your heads right now. Lets be clear. This is a SMF, so there WILL be some chatter. You already knew that. So the question is "how much?". To really answer this question we need to break it down into segments/situations.

1) In gear or clutch engaged: None. Seriously. None. Doesn’t matter if you are under load or not, if you are in gear or the clutch is engaged, it doesn’t chatter
2) Out of gear, AC off: EXTREMELY slight. If you are having a normal conversation with someone, or the radio is on juuusssstttt a bit, you will not hear it. You have to really listen for it.
3) Out of gear, AC on: Some. Obviously this is the classic shudder situation. You can hear it. You know what it is. It isn’t terrible. If you have the AC on and the fan is on two or above, the fan noise itself will drown most of it out. Radio on and its all gone. Honestly, just like engagement while driving in traffic, it became part of the noise of the world very rapidly.

If you are VERY sensitive to chatter, you might feel differently. That said, for the vast majority of us (and our significant others) this will be a non-issue.

Overall, initial impressions:

This is the perfect set up for me. Keeping the mature nature and refinement of the car has been of critical importance to me as I modified it. The FX400 meets need, perfectly. The slight noise is not nearly enough to impact your daily life. The biggest complaint I have right now is that I have to wait 500 miles to really get on it!