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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well folks, I met Shinoo and Neil yesterday, and drove the Kappasphere "company car" on a stretch of the PCH during the West Coast Meet. I'm pretty impressed with their products, and even MORE impressed with Shinoo and Neil themselves. These guys are the genuine article. My impression is that they're CAR guys first and foremost, and they're serious about product development. In talking to them, one really gets the idea that they’re in this more because the are excited about the car, and any money that they make on bringing products to the market is just gravy for them. I’m convinced that they will never offer a product they feel isn’t necessary, or is less than the best they can offer.

I've typed all of my reviews out in Word, and I'll copy and paste them over here in individual posts. The next post is my "cliffs notes"

I will caveat this entire review by saying that all of their products (with the exception of the springs, I believe) are still in development. What follows are my impressions of parts that are almost ready for market. Without further ado, here are my reviews:
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Quick and dirty

The cliffs notes version:

1) Shinoo and Neil are down-to-earth car guys, not money-grubbing businessmen. I’m glad I got the opportunity to meet them!
2) I give the intake an A- for looks - sound and performance undetermined
3) I give the exhaust B+ for looks and an A for sound – performance undetermined
4) I give the springs an A. I’m sold.
5) The windscreen is too early in R&D to rate. They’re on the right track, IMO
6) The door lock pulls look so good they should have been in there from the factory
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Cold Air Intake

The intake - first of all, it looks great. The intake is well secured, and the flex coupler between the throttle body and intake is a nice smooth piece. Shinoo was very up-front about the fact that the factory intake is capable of flowing a good amount of air thanks to the expansive surface area of the stock air filter and the location of its inlet. The factory setup, however contains two tuned-chamber baffles to eliminate “undesirable” primary and secondary resonant frequency sounds under WOT. Personally, I LIKE to hear the resonance, and I took my Saturn VUE apart just to remove the intake resonator. It’s only there under heavy acceleration at certain RPM under load. It’s a very deep growl. The Fujita CAI that Kappasphere offers, of course, eliminates the intake baffles. I couldn’t tell whether or not the growl is present under load, though, because I was driving with the top down and the exhaust was a little louder than the growl would be in my VUE.

They are still experimenting with the position of the MAF sensor within the intake piping. The ECMs in these cars must be very sensitive. The sensor must not be right in the airstream because the ECM is throwing “lean code” and turning on the check engine light. Neil told me that they had the code pulled at a dealership, and did another dyno run after the light came on with the same results as the previous run. There was another forum member there (Sollate?) who is also beta-testing a CAI for them. I forgot to ask him if he has a CEL as well. Rest-assured, though that Kappasphere won’t release the intake until they’re sure they have it right. It just occurred to me, though, that the sensor itself might be fouled by oil from the filter. That seems a common occurrence, though, so I would imagine Kappasphere and Fujita have already looked into that possibility.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Exhaust

The exhaust It sounds fantastic and looks great as well. It’s a shame you have to crawl under the car to see it. I would prefer that it was a true cat-back rather than an axle-back so that we could forego cutting the pipe and adding an extra junction. However, the factory system is stainless as well, and the same diameter, so there are really no worries about the way it is done. Honestly my way would just make it more expensive without adding any real value besides being prettier. Their exhaust is polished SS where the factory exhaust is not polished. I got to hear their exhaust from every perspective (pedestrian, on the highway from my car, and on the highway from the driver’s seat). I must say it sounds terrific! I did pick a little bit of a rasp to it the first time I heard someone take off in it from a standing start in first gear. It sounded a bit like a heat shield rattle or some batting loose inside the muffler chamber. Shinoo assured me that they’re looking into it. It was so subtle, though, that most people won’t even hear it. I’m just anal. I’ll come right out and say that I don’t like the sound of an I-4 with a loud exhaust most times. A boxer-engine (flat 4/pancake 4/whatever you want to call it) sounds much better to my ear. The Kappasphere exhaust made me reconsider. It is THAT well-done. I followed directly behind their car, and two cars back for most of the drive. On one leg, they started two cars back from me, and passed me in a fly-by. At speed on the road, it sounds authoritative without being overly loud. Under deceleration, you are treated to a great burbling/popping that is also not overdone. That sound almost reminds me of the glasspacks my father had on his GTO when I was growing up, just a little more subtle.

As for performance gains from the intake and exhaust, I’d have to compare them to my car in a more controlled environment, such as at a drag strip. I will say this: I followed Shinoo and Neil in my car for about a 15-mile stretch with Sal Orlando riding shotgun in my car. Every time they would downshift and gun it, I would follow suit as quickly thereafter as I could. It didn’t seem to me like they were walking away from me as I would have expected. There could be several explanations for this, though. I may have a “factory freak” car with a little more HP than the average right out of the box. We weren’t side-by-side, nor did we ever go from a dead stop or from a simultaneous “punch” - my perceptions could just be off. That was just my impromptu way of trying to determine the performance gains from the intake and exhaust. I never even told Shinoo or Neil that I was doing so. Who knows, maybe they didn’t even have the accelerator pedal buried as I did.

Performance notwithstanding, though, I think the CAI and exhaust are well-done based aesthetics and sound alone. The dyno results show gains, and I seriously doubt Kappasphere will EVER try to BS us. If they think a product isn’t worthy of their approval, they WON’T sell it. Period.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Springs

The springs These are Eibach springs, so I had high expectations. I was not disappointed. In fact, I was blown away. We all know that the car handles quite well in stock trim, I figured the springs would make it better, but I didn’t know how much better it could get! Best of all, it doesn’t seem to ride any rougher than if it were on stock springs. I don’t know how Eibach managed to pull that off, but they did. I drove it over some pretty choppy pavement, too.

Based on my experience having driven a car with Eibach lowering springs and stock dampers (struts in that case) for awhile before I upgraded to Konis, I expected the dreaded “pogo effect/porpoising” to rear its ugly head. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll explain as best I can. A shock/strut’s purpose is to resist rapid motion. It does so by “damping” motion in both compression and rebound. Factory springs and shocks/struts are tuned to work together. A stiff spring requires a shock with more damping on rebound, because it will rebound with more force. If you have stiff springs and stock shocks/struts – or just worn out struts/shocks – the suspension will oscillate a bit after going over a rise in the road, such as when you go onto/off of some overpasses on the highway. It takes the suspension an extra bounce to “settle down” almost as if the car were on four giant pogo sticks.

Long explanation aside, the Eibach springs in combination with the factory Bilstien shocks exhibited practically NO POGO effect. I noted a touch, but again, I’m a bit anal.

The cars cornering attitude is much improved with the springs, and it was already pretty damn good in stock trim, in my opinion. It feels even more responsive, and is more stable under hard cornering. I was purposely feeding the car more abrupt inputs (sawing at the wheel a little and stabbing the brakes more so than squeezing them) so that I could get a feel for how it handles without driving it at “nine tenths” on a public road (I drove at a ham-fisted 7/10 instead). The car feels more connected to the road with the springs, that’s for certain! I hit a quick rise in the road mid-corner in a pretty tight off-camber right-hander at full throttle in second gear. The rear stepped out a little bit, and the car settled right back in line. I had done the same thing in my car earlier in the day on the same corner going the same direction with slightly more dramatic results, though not hair-raising in either car. Neil (or was it Shinoo) tells me that the car still understeers slightly at the limit, but is more neutral than stock. That is EXACTLY what most performance-seeking drivers should look for, in my opinion. As I said, I didn’t want to really push the limits on a public highway in a car that isn’t even my own, so I’ll take Kappasphere’s word for it. I have no reason to doubt them.

Oh yeah, it looks great, too. It’s not exactly “slammed”, but I’m not looking for that either. I did drag the front airdam one time on a high spot on rough road. If I put the springs on, I might trim my airdam by an inch. You also have a little more careful going over speedbumps with these springs on the car, but that’s a compromise I’d be willing to accept. Eibach wants the car back from Kappasphere to develop a “sportline” spring kit for the car that drops it even farther – this one was a “prokit” series. Neil and Shinoo say they don’t know if that is even necessary, and I have to agree. I wouldn’t want to go any lower for a street car. Maybe I’m just getting old. The only reason I haven’t ordered the springs yet is that I plan to campaign my car in SCCA Solo-II autocross. I want to see how well I can do in the stock class before I step into suspension mods and put myself in with the big dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Wind blocker and lock pulls

The Kappashield This one is still fairly early in development. They are experimenting with different heights to find a good compromise between looks and performance. It does reduce the wind buffeting considerably, and you can see from the pictures how good it looks. I didn’t notice any distracting glare, but it was near sunset and I was wearing polarizing sunglasses. Again, if Shinoo and Neil say there’s no glare, I have no reason to doubt them.

The door lock pulls They look great. They should have been this way from the factory. The one thing that concerns me is that the threads on the lock rod which holds the factory pulls are a coarse-type made for plastic. These lock pulls are aluminum. I would want them in a kit that includes a new lock-rod with a machine screw thread and corresponding threads in the lock pulls. Sure, it’s easier to just unscrew the factory lock pulls and thread the billet ones on, but I worry about durability. Maybe the Kappasphere ones maybe be revised with plastic/nylon sleeves inside of them. Shinoo tells me they are still looking into the best solution.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Disclaimer

I've said this in another thread before. I am in no way affiliated with Kappasphere. I just met Shinoo and Neil face-to-face yesterday. I have nothing to gain by posting glowing reviews of their stuff (if anyone thinks those were glowing reviews) nor have I been given any special favors for doing so... well, they were giving out T-shirts and ballcaps yesterday, so I got a hat. :jester: :cool:
 

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Thanks that was some great info.You should be a writer :) Would you say that the exhaust was loud or it was just right.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
KLECKO said:
Thanks that was some great info.You should be a writer :) Would you say that the exhaust was loud or it was just right.
It was definately NOT rice-boy loud. I would say it was just right. A tick louder than a thrush turbo muffler, but definitely quieter than say a 2-chamber flowmaster. Hopefully others will chime in with their impressions as well.
 

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cool thanks, your the man 2KWK4U
 

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2KWK4U said:
I've said this in another thread before. I am in no way affiliated with Kappasphere. I just met Shinoo and Neil face-to-face yesterday. I have nothing to gain by posting glowing reviews of their stuff (if anyone thinks those were glowing reviews) nor have I been given any special favors for doing so... well, they were giving out T-shirts and ballcaps yesterday, so I got a hat. :jester: :cool:

Thanks 2kwk, great stuff. Glad to here the Kappa folks are as real as they seem. Loved the info. ;)
 

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Great reviews, I expect big things from Kappasphere.
 

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Hey Scott, great reviews.... and it was good meeting you! Even better that I got to drive your car.

Frankly, I made the drive to finalize my decision on if I am going to wait for my car or not. Sounds like I won't get the car until next month so I was half tempted to dump the idea and get some other hot rod. But after this weekend and the drive in your car, I'm hooked!

My Kappasphere wishlist: Lowering springs, exhaust, intake, wheels, lock pulls, cover, and the blackout grill idea.

You will have to come up here to wine country to try out our "twisties."
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
JetBlackE31 said:
Hey Scott, great reviews.... and it was good meeting you! Even better that I got to drive your car.

Frankly, I made the drive to finalize my decision on if I am going to wait for my car or not. Sounds like I won't get the car until next month so I was half tempted to dump the idea and get some other hot rod. But after this weekend and the drive in your car, I'm hooked!

My Kappasphere wishlist: Lowering springs, exhaust, intake, wheels, lock pulls, cover, and the blackout grill idea.

You will have to come up here to wine country to try out our "twisties."
Jim, no problem. My wife comes from a BMW family, and she threatened to disown me if I pass up the opportunity to drive an 8-series ever again! I hope you didn't feel insulted that I traded your keys for the chance to drive Kappasphere's car. I'm kind of kicking myself for it a little, too.

I'll be up in Santa Rosa the weekend after next for that class at David Marks' studio. Any recommendations on a good affordable hotel? I looked on yahoo travel, and found the comfort inn on Cleveland Ave is the closest the studio. Safe parking there? Maybe we can get together for a brew or three while I'm there. :cheers:

That or you can introduce me to some of them twisties! :thumbs:
 

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2KWK4U said:
Jim, no problem. My wife comes from a BMW family, and she threatened to disown me if I pass up the opportunity to drive an 8-series ever again! I hope you didn't feel insulted that I traded your keys for the chance to drive Kappasphere's car. I'm kind of kicking myself for it a little, too.

I'll be up in Santa Rosa the weekend after next for that class at David Marks' studio. Any recommendations on a good affordable hotel? I looked on yahoo travel, and found the comfort inn on Cleveland Ave is the closest the studio. Safe parking there? Maybe we can get together for a brew or three while I'm there. :cheers:

That or you can introduce me to some of them twisties! :thumbs:
You passed on a chance to drive an 8 series? :crazy: :rolleyes:
 

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2KWK4U said:
Jim, no problem. My wife comes from a BMW family, and she threatened to disown me if I pass up the opportunity to drive an 8-series ever again!
YOU PASSED ON TEST DRIVING A BMW 850???? :eek:
Go stand in the corner, young man. You are on a Time Out! until you learn your super cars.

Oh and thanks for the great review of the KS products. I'm salivating over a few of them, like the exhaust and the springs. I'm guessing I won't need intake on the GXP. The wind-blockers sounds like it will be the best available as well.
 

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2KWK4U said:
J I hope you didn't feel insulted that I traded your keys for the chance to drive Kappasphere's car. I'm kind of kicking myself for it a little, too.
Not at all! You can still collect on the 840 ride.

You've got mail!
 

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jimbo said:
YOU PASSED ON TEST DRIVING A BMW 850????
840 actually. Still a super car. Just 4 less cylinders to worry about.
 
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