There is a tiny little gasoline station tucked away within the California hills between Lake Elizabeth and Castaic. We all know, as a result of we practically kissed the bottom in reduction when pulling as much as it on fumes to refill Shiv Pathak’s modified 2021 Toyota Supra. It isn’t that the Supra will get poor gasoline financial system, however relatively that we loved driving it a lot that we did not cease till we completely needed to. This automobile turns corners into potato chips—you all the time need another. Then another once more, till the quarter-tank of gasoline that appeared like greater than sufficient for a fast spin across the neighborhood turns right into a low gasoline gentle miles away from the place you began.
Pathak’s model of the Supra is subtly spiced. It takes a pointy eye to note any adjustments aside from the Yokohama Advan A052 tires on 18-inch bronze wheels that change the inventory 19-inch Michelins. Look nearer and you may see entrance dive planes whiskering the nostril, and within the rear, a fragile diffuser hanging beneath the exhaust. The tire change alone makes the automobile a delight; the cushioning impact of the taller sidewalls and flypaper stick of the Advans make bumps disappear and corners straighten. Tune up the engine to Pathak’s claimed 500 horsepower and take away among the slight resistance within the inventory Supra’s steering and you have a wonderful automobile made irresistible.
Bettering the Supra is a tall order. There is not a C/D staffer who would not prefer it straight from the manufacturing facility. It appears lumpy in an thrilling means, like a car penned by that child in fifth grade who drew superheroes with 12-pack abs. With a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six, it is a 12-second drag racer that may pull greater than 1.00 g on the skidpad and nonetheless get gasoline mileage within the excessive 20s mpg (We averaged 26 mpg with our long-term 2020 Supra 3.0.) Pathak’s firm, OpenFlash Efficiency, which makes a speciality of tweaking ECUs for stronger horses and expanded torque ranges, felt that nearly good wasn’t ok.
“I did not just like the automobile after I bought it,” he says. “I did not just like the steering, I did not just like the squishy bushings. I wished extra energy. (Dang, Shiv, you are arduous to please—Ed.) However I additionally did not wish to do a typical tuner automobile—900 horses with none of it within the usable vary, warmth points, stiff anti-roll bars and comes. I solely wished to do issues that would not sacrifice compliance, sound, and emissions. I wished to make it like an OEM deal—like a inventory Supra, solely higher.”
The ensuing construct takes the tiniest of stutters and slop within the already-good inventory Supra and bumps up the facility. On a straightaway, it bounds ahead with all of the promise designed into its muscular haunches. Throw it right into a nook and it comes out simply the place you count on it. Miscalculate and it forgives you. “Simply gathered” is how technical editor David Beard described it after working it via its paces on our California check monitor. In comparison with the inventory 2021 Supra 3.0’s check outcomes, Pathak’s Supra picked up 0.02 g across the skidpad (1.04 versus 1.02) and half a second each to 60 mph (3.3 seconds versus 3.8) and thru the quarter-mile (11.6 seconds in comparison with 12.1). Its sticky tires additionally helped it cease rapidly, halting from 70 mph in simply 147 toes—5 fewer toes than the usual mannequin. On the highway, it feels invincible, strongly pulling excessive into its rev vary and responding to throttle inputs like a educated dolphin—up on its tail, whistling, and able to soar via hoops. If you happen to can resist the draw of the Supra’s high-rpm surge, it is nicely behaved at parking-lot speeds, too. There’s not one of the clashing and banging one expects of a modified automobile. It looks like a inventory Supra, solely higher.
“We did not need the everyday whiz-bang turbo automobile that solely works on the drag strip or on the dyno,” says Pathak, whose firm additionally labored on a Lamborghini Urus that we examined not way back. The “we” is OpenFlash, which did the tuning, but in addition SPL Elements and Verus Engineering, which dealt with the non-ECU-related elements, together with the aero bits and suspension. The Harmony, California-based store The Racers Line did the set up of the arduous elements. Partnership on builds is frequent between these firms. “You do not need me bodily touching any half that may fall off,” Pathak tells us, though he did efficiently take away and reinstall a wheel so we might get a greater have a look at the SPL suspension items—and it did not fall off. Behind these wheels—light-weight Apex EC-7R rollers—Pathak identified the SPL higher and decrease entrance management arms and rear toe and traction hyperlinks. Much less straightforward to see, but dramatic in refining the automobile’s really feel on the highway, have been SPL’s adjustable Teflon-lined spherical bushings that changed the inventory rubber items.
Pathak says changing the rubber within the suspension is what provides his construct its fast responses and constant highway really feel. Rubber deflects and binds up throughout arduous cornering, acceleration, and stopping, which comes via the steering wheel as spongey lifeless spots. When that sponginess releases, it can lead to surprising midcorner twitches or an unsettledness beneath braking. The frequent tuner resolution is stiffer springs and anti-roll bars, however then you find yourself with an unforgiving journey that beats you up over any however the smoothest pavement. “I realized this from the Ferrari 458,” says Pathak. “It is my favourite automobile on the earth, and so they (Ferrari) gave it loads of (suspension) journey. They knew that to make use of tremendous stiff springs means tremendous stiff bushings and bracing, after which you’ve a race automobile, not a highway automobile.” You need some give, he says, however in predictable locations just like the tire sidewall and the suspension, not within the connections between elements.
He takes an analogous strategy to the engine tune, which is designed to supply probably the most noticeable driving enhancements with out touching any emissions gear or inflicting any overheating or reliability points. Large dyno numbers, like huge anti-roll bars, could impress in on-line boards, nevertheless it’s usable, constant energy that makes you wish to keep behind the wheel. Pathak says the tune provides about 118 horsepower to the inventory Supra 3.0’s 382, with a give attention to part-throttle responsiveness. That is what provides it such a willingness out of corners, making it really feel extra highly effective than it’s.
Most of OpenFlash Efficiency’s builds are achieved as check mules for buyer software program updates. That was Pathak’s unique intent with this Supra, however he was stymied by an ECU lockdown in mid-2021. “There are workarounds,” he says of overcoming the automobile’s digital limitations, “however they are not one thing I might ask a buyer to do.” As an alternative, the Supra turned a private undertaking automobile, permitting Pathak and his companions to work on their idea of mixing consolation with efficiency to struggle the stereotype of the undrivable tuner automobile. “You do not have to have a stiff, unyielding automobile for it to carry out brilliantly on the restrict.” Whereas we’re nonetheless imagining taking his sensible Supra out another time, Pathak has moved on. He is already planning mods for the brand new Subaru BRZ and Toyota GR86. If we get an opportunity to drive them, we’ll ensure that to start out with a full tank of gasoline.
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