Thanks to the sales team at Frank Subaru, I was able to test drive the NEW Subaru Ascent today, and it was awesome! The completely new 2.4L turbo engine and re-mapped CVT work together seemlessly to provide suprisingly fast acceleration, and the suspension feels tight and nimble. If you can imagine for a second, the current Subaru Outback and a WRX were mashed into one vehicle with a 3rd row of seats....Yeah its that good. Read more about this from my post on Wheelwell.
I've been told several times by people that suspension braces "just add weight", but almost every time I install one there is some kind of a noticeable change. I don't have many braces, just what I feel are the three essentials: strut tower, front lower, and a rear lower. I also have a 4 point Autopower roll bar, and it's worth mentioning that this acts as a very large brace as well. So let's discuss the things I feel are the purposes of a brace and whether or not this UR brace meets that criteria.
1 - Reinforcing An Actual Weakness
As enthusiasts, we must strive to remain focused and not be tempted into buying every single shiny part we can. The ultimate goal should be to connect suspension pick-up points across large openings like an engine bay or trunk, and always triangulate when possible. Unfortunately for those of us modifying a Yaris, there are limited options. The strut bar is a given because of the engine bay void, and then there is a not so obvious area under the rear of the car. The rear lower brace not only reinforces the recesses of the rear axle beam primary bushings, but it also ties these points together on each side of the car. From the factory Toyota had placed two stamped steel braces here, so we know without a doubt it needs to be supported. Can you imagine the forces being applied to these bushings when cornering over 1G?! Exactly, get this one.
2 - Upgraded Hardware Included
The benefits of adding a brace that transfers suspension loads probably wouldn't last very long if it attaches using Grade 2 fasteners. A good rule of thumb is to meet or exceed the original fastener hardness, and that's exactly what UR does. The original Toyota fasteners are the recessed, mark-less 4T bolts. The 4T's are the lowest on the chart for strength classification but the UR lower brace comes with a set of stainless 18.8 fasteners. That's quite the upgrade, just be sure to put some grease on the threads before installation and torque to 20ftlbs.
3 - Construction And Fitment
Now of course when you purchase a part designed to keep chassis flex to a minimum, you shouldn't be able to bend it with your bare hands. I've seen some no-name strut tower braces that are so flimsy they bend when being leaned on, that's ridiculous. Gladly that's not how UR operates. When I did the 6-speed swap I had my engine supported by a chain that was looped around the strut bar, for 5 weeks! The rear lower bar seems to be just as strong, the welds seem to have made full penetration and the paintwork is exceptional. The fitment is great as well, I'm sure the elongated mounting holes help with that aspect.
4 - Ground Clearance
One of the biggest downfalls of installing under-braces is smashing them on speed bumps. I've ridden in peoples cars that are pretty low, and when going over those Texas-sized speed bumps you feel your teeth chatter from the impact. Not only is this super unpleasant, the next time he had his car on the lift for service all of the braces were smashed up pretty bad. The openings where the bolts are were bent over and covering parts of the bolt and some of the threads in the chassis were pulled back. Good luck removing that.
If you look at the picture above you'll notice that is not the case with the UR rear lower brace. It wraps around the rear of the fuel tank only about 1 inch lower. One could even argue this can provide an amount of protection to the fuel tank, especially since it's composite. I've driven this car over many speed bumps without a single scrape, I've had the car on a Uhaul trailer as well without issue.
I honestly don't have one negative thing to say about Ultra Racing or this brace. I've seen some videos on YouTube mentioning the weld quality or how the elongated holes are a sign of weakness. If a product does what it's intended to, doesnt fail prematurely, looks great, and has a lifetime warranty...how can anyone say its sub-par just based on the price? Exactly.
Again, it's hard for me to provide feedback on a noticeable change in performance because I have a roll bar. However, I'm sure someone without one will feel a increase in chassis rigidity after installing this brace like I did with the roll bar. Check out the install video below!
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