Toyota Corolla tuner car - Winnipeg Free Press
Photo: Mike Aporius, Winnipeg Free Press. Click image to enlarge

For the lucky few who have had a chance to pilot our newly-blown project Toyota, the only TRD-supercharged 2005 Corolla in North America, happiness begins right around 2,800 rpm. The supercharger, with its necessary refits, has added 32 more horsepower to the 130 with which our Corolla CE left the factory. The numbers were confirmed recently with a dyno test, performed by Sheldon Root and his team at Motion Performance.

To do a dyno test, the car is first strapped down to the test platform, with the drive wheels spinning on large cylinders. Think of it as the open highway, without all that annoying scenery. A tachometer signal syncs with the dyno computer, providing accurate rpm measurements. The computer records vehicle wheel speed, rpm, horsepower and torque outputs. The horses and torque numbers are calculated at the flywheel, as well as at the drive wheels. The drive-wheel numbers are ultimately the most accurate representation of true power output.

Mechanical horsepower increases arrive at most engines in the form of a turbocharger or supercharger. While both systems provide an ample kick in the pants in the acceleration department, turbos tend to realize their power peak at much higher rpms than a supercharger. “I think the supercharger is the way to go,” Root said. “There’s nowhere near the lag that a turbo has.”

The numbers don’t lie. The sweet spot for pound-feet of torque starts around 2,800 rpm, with 172.2 lb-ft at the flywheel, and 141.2 lb-ft at the drive wheels. By the time the blown mill hits 3,400 rpm, the torque peak has been achieved, with 176.6 lb-ft at the flywheel and 144.9 lb-ft at the drive wheels. Notice that we haven’t even mentioned horsepower figures. “What people feel is the torque,” said Root, referring to the acceleration curve. “As soon as you step on the (Corolla’s) throttle, it makes a lot of torque. And it stays there.”

To drive home the point of torque, let’s look at the horsepower peak of 162.3 ponies. Measured at the flywheel, this output occurs at just over 5,000 rpm. The torque output has fallen to 167.5 lb-ft at the engine, and 137 lb-ft at the flywheel. And it continues to fall as rpm increase. Simply put, you might want to change what part of your car’s performance that you currently brag about. Torque will ultimately be in charge of how quickly you get going.

Toyota Corolla tuner car - Winnipeg Free Press
Photo: Mike Aporius, Winnipeg Free Press. Click image to enlarge

It’s great to have go, but what about to and fro, as in handling? Sunshine Toyota improved the handling characteristics of our ‘Rolla with TRD lowering springs, and a front-strut tower brace. Assistant service manager Dustin Myron applauded the quality of the springs. “The fit and finish are perfect,” he said. Even with stock dampers, the Corolla’s handling is markedly improved. Ride comfort is somewhat stiffer, though it’s nothing compared to what Myron has experienced on vehicles equipped with some third-party products. “It’s almost like driving a forklift,” he said, referring to the worst examples. The strut tower brace improves structural rigidity, minimizing chassis flex under heavy cornering loads. Even with the stock tires, the Corolla easily tackles the twisties with the authority of its performance cousin, the XRS. The enhancements also appear to have improved responsiveness to the stock power rack and pinion steering.

Sunshine also installed TRD racing pedals. Unlike some slippery aftermarket units, the TRD pedals have raised rubber contacts for your heel and toe actions. Once the tarmac has sufficiently dried up at the Vehicle Research Centre at St. Andrews, we’ll be testing acceleration times as well as slalom performance. The Winnipeg Free Press Toyota Tuner project is sponsored by the Free Press, Toyota Canada Inc. and Winnipeg Toyota dealers. When completed, the car will be auctioned off and proceeds donated to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba. For more information, and to sign up for exclusive e-mail updates and news on the auction of the car, go to Coming up next: a custom leather interior.

Read Part One of this series
Read Part Two of this series
Read Part Four of this series

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