After an exhausting ordeal, our modified Cusco RS was properly installed into Project Hyundai. We’d paid for it with two weeks stuck in the shop and more than $2500. We were starting to wonder if any diff could be worth this kind of hassle. Therefore, it was with great anticipation that we hopped in and started it up.
The changes were obvious from the moment we pressed the starter button. During startup, the new engine mounts rigidly held the V6 in a way we had never experienced with a street car before. This made starting the engine both smoother and more violent at the same time. Smoother in that the engine no longer moved around so much, but more violent in that the mechanical goings-on of the motor were being so directly transmitted into the cabin.
Not that the car had become overly loud, harsh, or filled with vibration. Indeed, the changes were utterly tolerable and we had expected the car to be much rougher. Other than an odd cabin resonance at around 1100 RPM, we found nothing to dislike about the changes in NVH.
We put the car in gear and gingerly applied some throttle. All felt normal, but then we went to apply some steering lock in order to exit Adam’s gravel parking lot.
The rear tires bit down hard on the white rock, angrily chewing on them as we turned the car towards the open road.
“Well that’s new.”
The rear axle continued to masticate any road debris present whenever a large amount of steering lock was applied. This was unsettling at first, but we quickly came to understand it as the nature of the beast. It makes some noise, but the sensation is hard to detect through the control inputs. It only gets bad when moving at sub-5 MPH with a ton of steering lock applied, such as when pulling out of a driveway. Again, we hesitate to even describe the sensation as “bad” because it isn’t unpleasant.
It’s just obvious; noticeable.
Another aspect of the build was noticeable, too. The performance:
Even on old, dying tires Project Hoondy grips tenaciously. During hard launches you can feel the diff hunting for traction, working the tires to their absolute limit; wringing out every last bit of performance that the rubber has to give.
Because we had activated all 20 clutches we expected the diff to squirt the car sideways in a straight line on low traction surfaces.
In reality, this idea was very far from the truth. Project Hoondy will absolutely not get drifty if steering lock isn’t applied. Even in slick, rainy conditions on bald tires we can nail the gas in first and second gear without disturbing the chassis whatsoever. It just grips and goes without even a hint of a slide.
The tires will spin though!
The bewildering thing about this setup is how it will accelerate hard while wheelspin occurs. One of the most amusing things you can now do in Project Hoondy is dip the clutch/nail the throttle in low gears and/or low traction while holding the wheel straight. The wheelspin starts, the revs rise, and you simply ease off the gas as the engine hits the meaty part of its torque curve.
3000-5000 RPM, V6 snarling, tires smoking against the pavement, and plenty of acceleration kicking in; it really is jolly good fun.
However, if you turn the wheel, everything changes.
“Steering with the throttle” is a phrase we’ve long understood. We had experienced it a few times in the past, most notably in an E36 M3. With Project Hoondy though, that phrase has been totally re-defined for us.
You can easily choose your angle, or not! Just huck the car into a corner and figure the rest out from there. Too fast, too slow; it doesn’t matter. As long as you don’t drive into a ditch then you can modulate the gas to get where you want to be.
You must be committed though. As this sloppy drift demonstrates; if you give it too much gas and then back out, things can go all cattywompus in a hurry:
This is nothing inherently dangerous and most certainly a recoverable position, but you do have to be mindful of your surroundings. Don’t be this guy:
The real crux of the issue here is the steering. Holy shit the steering!
One of our chief complaints about Project Hoondy in stock form was the power steering. We thought it felt over-boosted and a bit lifeless. It seemed lazy, and the wheel was always quite slow to return to center when released. At first we weren’t really sure how we’d address this issue, but figured it would have to wait until we could get serious about suspension tuning.
But no! It turns out that Project Hoondy’s fuzzy, over-boosted steering was just waiting for a mean-ass differential to push against. Clutch-based diffs tend to slightly resist directional change, and they have a very strong tendency to return to a straight trajectory. This effect gave our car meaty, snappy, incredible steering that just dares you to crank on an armload of lock and then let go of the wheel.
In Project Hoondy, this part happens fast! If you aren’t ready for it then the steering wheel will absolutely get away from you and you’re not gonna get the drift angle you wanted; or worse. It was never a car for lazy drivers to begin with, but Project Hoondy is now a rather demanding automobile. It absolutely will not tolerate inattentive driving and punishes the driver for every single hesitant or clumsy control input.
God we love it!
All in all, Project Hoondy now feels like an absolute weapon to drive. There are many, many changes we still want to make, but we feel like we’re “over the hump” so to speak. The car now behaves roughly the way we want it to and any further tuning will be dedicated to refining and sharpening that behavior rather than completely changing it.
Reaching this point has made us reflective. There are a lot of fun details to look back on, but we do have a favorite:
We like to think Uncle Izumi would be pleased that it took Japanese technology to finally make our Korean sports car work properly.
This concludes Project Hoondy’s differential saga, but we have further articles in store about our chassis upgrades, cold air intake, and other details that have been left out so far.
As for future modifications? Well, now that we’ve done two major “serious business” builds in a row, we think it’s about time for something silly. Therefore, our next major mod shall be a custom catback exhaust that emphasizes muscle-car burble instead of import-tuner shriek.