Words by : Ben Wong, Photos by : Neo & JieYong
The Japanese, some call that place the Land of the rising sun, Nippon, Nihon, JDM land and countless other names with too many to list down here. There are many names to call that country but the its the only place that seems like automotive heaven if you love cars. I’m not talking about the mid-Tokyo jams that is so famously shown in Tokyo Drift. I’m talking about everything else in between. The wangan, the Daikoku gatherings and even Tsukuba, one of the first places that is most likely to pop to mind at the mention of “Time attack” before World Time Attack started. It is no secret that the Japanese probably have the coolest car culture and the most lenient rules with regards to vehicle modification and racing / drifting. Even if it is strict, that’s definitely not what is portrayed to us.
Just simply use Google and you will see the abundance of car content you can always find about Japan, be it the wangan or just plain drifting. Its almost as if once you slap on a Japanese plate on to any car regardless how “rice”, it automatically becomes cool. Look at the Bosozoku and those large trucks with enough neons to allow a blind man to see. Any where else in the world, that would be branded as “Rice”. In Japan however, its simply the Japanese culture and its cool! It’s no wonder why so many aspire to have a JDM badge on their car, that green and yellow arrow shaped thing that actually means “P plate” in Japan. Some how that became the Japanese symbol of JDM. Even the US companies name their companies after JDM, Password : JDM. It is simply proof that people worldwide continue to draw inspiration from this amazing country.
Sebastian here is no different. Back track a several months and you might remember that Sebastian was the person who got us pit access in our coverage of last year’s MME. He is also a good frriend of mine and the purchase of this Evo was partially due to my constant brainwashing to get him to switch from a WRX. What sealed the deal was when he took a ride in my own personal Evo on the track. Long story short, we decided his car was to be featured and it “happened” to be arranged on a weekend where he was out of town for holiday. This meant the car had to be left with me…. for a week.
Time attack is originated from the Japanese and many of their Time attack and street cars cars are decorated with decals similar to this. In fact, if you sense some familiarity with this particular design then pat yourself on the back because it was actually inspired from Evolution tuning power house, Garage HRS.
Apart from the carbon bonnet and that aggressive voltex kit, graphic wise it was inspired by this exact car. Point to note, that Voltex kit is actually illegal to have on your road car in Singapore. May seem like a stupid rule but it is true. So is having canards and any type of body kit that even slightly protrudes from the car body. The logic is that those leg choppers might actually… chop off somebody’s legs. Do comment in the comment section below if you have ever heard of such a thing happening any where in the world!
Omit the lack of performance looking aerodynamics, this HRS inspired Evo 9 does have the right tools to go as hard as it looks.
Some how, I was more excited about driving this car then my own. First of all compared to mine, this was the road runner to my Wild E Coyote. Secondly was that getting to drive an Evo that wasn’t mine but entrusted in my care, I couldn’t help myself but imagine to be in the shoes of Time attack driver, Tarzan Yamada. I’m aware many of you guys imagine to be drifting the trolley round bends at the super market, so lets not judge here.
This feeling of anticipation grew increasingly strong as I got into the cockpit of this machine and started the engine to allow it to warm up. The Tomei built head and Tomei 280 cams combined with the exhausts gases sent to the Fujitsubo titanium exhaust produced a slightly bassy and loopy idling that felt like a constant eargasm to my performance craving ears. The sensation when getting in and engaging first gear just reemphasized that racing driver dream as the PPG dog box clunked into first gear.
The meeting point was at Tampines Ikea which was about a 30 minute drive from my house. The perfect chance for me to fully experience this car. To the unknowing person, listening to the gear box clunk forcefully into place might make you think that something is about to break. Each gear change is slightly jerky as the gears connect but despite all of that, the acceleration feels extremely light thanks to a CTG carbon prop shaft reducing transmission loss. I mentally limited the rev to 5000 rpm, after full boost kicks in as I decided it was good sense to not abuse a car that wasn’t mine.
The car had a linear tune as its main purpose was to conquer the closest and safest circuit to Singapore, the Sepang International Circuit. I emphasize safe because there is one track closer to Singapore then Sepang which is Pasir Gudang. The journey further up north feels safer because the knowledge that even a F1 car seldom manages to hit any wall at Sepang at much higher speeds then what our road cars are capable of is more assuring and there is less fear of wrecking your car when tracking there. For convenience however, Pasir Gudang is the closest track to Singapore and all hopes of having a local track a non-racing driver can actually use was unexpectedly abolished by the Singapore Sports council a few months back. (Link: Here)
That flashy graphics did genuinely produce a head turner effect when driving around in this car. It drew all sorts of attention, even so when parked along road side in an industrial area.
So you get my point, driving around in a car this bright in crowded areas even without that loud exhaust quite literally turned heads.
Being perfectly honest, this particular car despite all its performance, was a pain in the ass to drive. Driving it around for a day and having to constantly monitor the speed and keep to the speed limit was physically and mentally tiring. Yes, the attention is something lots of car owners love, which is having people look at your car in admiration (or in disgust, lets just assume its admiration). As much as I want to avoid sounding like a wimp that should be driving more comfortable luxury cars, what is painfully difficult about the car is the clunky gear changes and the jerking from each gear change. To add to that misery is that is has to be slammed into gears. Going gently on the gear box will simply result in hearing a loud crunching noise which is way worst then the jerkiness of the gear changes.
I was honestly and genuinely quite glad when this car was parked road side and the guys messed around because this meant I didn’t have to drive it. It was only during the end of the shoot when a need arose and I desperately had to rush off that made me say “screw that rev limiter” when suddenly this annoyingly painful car to drive became bearable. In fact, it became pleasurable. A lack of cars on the road meant that my only purpose was to drive the wheels off this thing. This was what this car was built, tuned and meant to do that made it feel like it was in a class of its own. That carbon prop shaft did its part in aiding low end acceleration before the boost of a Forced performance GT35 kicked in and revving to a limit of 8,500 rpm with solid lifters. At that very moment, all that clunking and jerking no longer mattered. The car for the very first time in my hands, felt like it was out of depression and was on one very strong dose steroids. It felt absolutely amazing.
Night came and I had to put this car back to its resting place where it will rest for the rest of the week until Sebastian collected it, but not before capturing a few more shots of this amazing yet annoying car. It is the perfect car to be driven on the track and any time when you are feeling like your right foot is heavy. For everything else, it is just an irritably jerky car but some how, that is the charm of it.
It is like any other relationship, there are some loving moments and there awful moments when you quarrel and fight. Some how, for those wonderful moments, you are willing to forget everything that was ever bad and enjoy the moment for what it is. That little element called love. All the complains I have had about the car as a daily driver just vanished when this car got into its stride, and only at 1.6 bar boost.
If you ever asked me again if I would consider tolerating this car in a traffic jam for a whole day, just to have that 10 minutes of boosting time?
My answer would be, “It is absolutely worth it”.
This wraps up part 2 of 3 of what seems to be an impromptu Evolution month with 3 of our featured Evolutions back to back. For the non-evo lovers, not to worry as we will be steering clear of Evos for quite a while after part 3 of our Evolution month because the rest of the cars lined up will be some of the best we have managed to find in Singapore.