Mod: Cusco Lower Brace II (JDM)

After the 6MT swap, I noticed that my steering response went down. This could be from the additional 80lbs of mass from the 6MT, the extra rotational weight of the diffs, the front diff adding additional loads on the front suspension, or all of the above. I figured it might be a good time to reinforce my front subframe. Eventually, I would like to pick up a TSSFab front subframe, but they are outside of my budget right now.

There used to be a number for front subframe braces (usually called h-braces) for the GD chassis, but now we are down to Cusco and maybe one or two others. I should note that there are two subframe braces; one is intended for the GC chassis with turbo EJs, and the other is for the GD chassis with the U-Brace. The GD chassis brace bolts to the u-brace; however, I removed my U-Brace some time ago. The GD brace would probably work with a spacer in place of the u-brace, but I like how the GC brace mounts to the control arm mount on the subframe.

I placed an order with RallySportDirect, and they shipped it over. As usual, many Cusco parts are coated in a nice shade of blue.

Cusco Lower Brace II (JDM) – 2.6 lbs

On test fit, the GC Cusco brace wouldn’t fit because of the mounting tabs on the front subframe for the U-Brace. We don’t need those anymore, so we can cut them off. However, I was considering using them for a custom undertray/splitter mount.

The control arm is also kind of in the way. I probably could have left the control arms on if I had a smaller grinder or cutoff wheel. We just need to cut the welds on the side and the bottom. The last weld is hard to get to, but working the tab back and forth will break it at the last weld.

I forgot to take photos of the subframe during the process. And I ended up cross-threading one of the control arm mount threads, and I had to come up with a way to fix it.

U-Brace Brackets – 0.4 lbs

At this point, the Cusco subframe brace can be bolted up. I reused all of the stock hardware, even though Cusco supplies longer control arm bolts. I definitely recommend loosely installing the rear control arm bolts first. The bolts really want to go in at an angle and cross-thread on you once the other mounting point is even loosely in place.

Review

I didn’t expect too much from this brace, even though I have found H-Braces to be beneficial in the past. Although the steering feels a little heavier, I haven’t noticed any increase in NVH. Not sure why that is. The brace also covers the transmission drain plug, which is annoying.

The biggest difference I noticed so far is how consistent the handling is. Even cruising down the highway, steering inputs are more direct. Before, my tires would tramline on some sections but then kind of correct themselves. I found myself constantly countersteering and sometimes overcorrecting. So, I learned to ignore some things the car was doing, but I also had to anticipate others.

Now it seems like I can “listen” to the steering wheel more. If the car wants to go slightly left, it is more likely to go in that direction, and I can add in a correction to counter it. The front end feels more stable in corners, again, with more direct, responsive inputs. The improved steering feedback makes the WRX more predictable.

Turn-in is a little sharper, but nothing remarkable. I think we need control arm bushings and sway bars to make it even sharper, though. One issue with the Bugeye’s improved performance is that it requires more speed to evaluate modifications properly. The road I usually use as a baseline won’t work anymore. I was driving down the road thinking that I needed to get up to speed to test the mods out until I looked at my speedo.

I ordered a Cusco rear brace; however, it is probably stuck in Virginia for a while. They got hit with a pretty heavy snowstorm. I also have swaybars inbound, but I want to install the rear brace separately from the swaybars.

Cheers!

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