Axis Sport Tuning was quick to see the potential of the 2002 WRX. The Subaru's rally-bred performance would finally manifest itself on American soil in the form of turbo power and Axis' James Chen surmised the car would be a winner. The previous RS2.5 had the look, but not the gumption. But with 227 boosting thoroughbreds under the hood, the 2002 WRX is ready to rock.
The car was fitted with a set of Axis wheels upon delivery. Before the catalytic converter had stopped ticking, the Subaru was shod in 19x8 Axis Hagen wheels wrapped in Falken 225ZR/35-19 rubber. The car was hunkered down with Progress Group springs and anti-roll bars.
After some break-in miles, Axis contacted M2 Performance for some simple bolt-ons that would unleash the horses trapped in the restrictive corporate-inspired OE induction and exhaust systems.
M2 Performance added its upgraded stock-mount intercooler, a 3-inch downpipe and a 3-inch exhaust. Like the stocker, the M2 intercooler is a top-mount design. However it delivers better performance because of its more efficient bar-and-plate construction and its physically larger surface area. Even the end tanks have been opened to speed the boost to the Boxer 4 engine. The M2 exhaust is a 3-inch mandrel-bent affair featuring stainless-steel construction. The downpipe is an off-road piece that replaces the stock unit, which incorporates one of the car's three cats. Thew WRX has one cat before the turbo and two downstream in the exhaust system. An intake system from AEM was also added to get the air into the stock turbo faster.
The modifications performed on the Axis WRX were simple in their mission-to eliminate OE restrictions-and were easy to install. On the dyno the straightforward M2 package generated 189.9 hp and 189.8 lb-ft of torque. The graph shows good power is being made from 4,500 rpm on up-right in the engine's sweet spot. The steep rise of the curve illustrates the turbo coming on line.
There is a lot to like in the Subaru WRX. It has good power in stock form, all season capability in its all-wheel-drive powertrain, a sharp interior with supportive bucket seats, a Momo steering wheel and a very reasonable price tag at $24,000. Best of all the Boxer 4 engine seems to welcome power mods with open arms and the M2 Performance package proves that you can be budget-minded and boost happy-a rare combination these days.