A Cobb Accessport Makes a Subaru WRX a Better Daily Driver
Sure, it adds features and improves performance, but that doesn't help when you're stuck in traffic.
The Cobb Accessport is as much a part of Subaru WRX life as flat-brimmed caps and vaping. The performance improvements of its off-the-shelf tuning maps are well documented, and as its name suggests it provides tuners with access to modify engine maps any way they want to safely squeeze every last bit of horsepower out of your build, regardless of other modifications. But what the zillions of other reviews on the internet don't tell you is how much the Accessport can improve the car's daily drivability, which is arguably even more important than peak performance.
When I transitioned from my Subaru BRZ into my 2015 WRX the throttle response seemed particularly jumpy to me. At first, I wrote this off as simply the difference between the WRX having a turbo while the BRZ did not, but neither my wife's Ford Flex EcoBoost nor our VW Jetta 1.8T had as itchy a trigger finger as the new-to-me WRX.
Although I don't vape and my hats aren't flat-brimmed, a Cobb Accessport was the first modification I made to my WRX. A basic Stage 1 tune requires absolutely no physical modifications to the car, so I installed that off-the-shelf tune immediately. Instantly, the car became much easier to drive. The jumpiness of the gas pedal was gone. The drive-by-wire throttle became much more linear, meaning that when I asked for 20 percent throttle, I actually got 20 percent, not 50 percent. Though the car lost the excitement of its rapid responsiveness, it became easier and more predictable to drive.
This, rather than the horsepower increase, is the major unadvertised benefit of the tune. Sure, the extra power is great for blasting past that left lane hog in a narrow gap in traffic, but while you're still stuck behind them the car is less jumpy and easier to drive smoothly. Since I spend most of the time in my WRX commuting through the traffic of Boston, Massachusetts' suburbs, I appreciate the ease of driving behind slow people 5 to 10 mph under the speed limit far more often than the horsepower bump.
The other unadvertised benefit of the Cobb Accessport is improved fuel economy. I'm talking about the performance tune, not the tune designed specifically to maximize fuel economy. The U.S. Department of Energy says that my manual WRX should get 21 mpg in the city and 28 mpg highway, with a combined mileage of 24 mpg. Yet in the real world, I regularly get 28 mpg in mixed driving and have exceeded 30 mpg in strictly highway driving.
"While we don’t advertise fuel economy improvements, generally, due to optimized tuning, customers can occasionally see a slight improvement in fuel mileage under average driving conditions," Matthew Bryant of Cobb Tuning support told me in an email. Improved performance, drivability, and fuel economy—the Cobb Accessport has it all.
At $650, it's definitely not a cheap modification. But for my WRX daily driver, it's the only performance modification I need.