First thing to say is look at the pictures:
The car looked striking with the gold alloys, I had toyed with this idea but initially not thought much of it as it felt like I was jumping on the Impreza, Williams band wagon. The car was fitted with an open air pipercross filter, a devil backbox, and the full LAD head conversion. The car also ran on Eibach springs, which I was told lowered the car approximately 30mm. Looking at the pictures the lowering is not particuarly apparant. However parked next to my cup it looked squatter and wider. The springs are not Cup specific, and the ride height of my cup is more or less the same at the rear as the one on Eibachs, excpet the front in lower. The car also runs cross drilled front discs that LAD has machined, they are not replacement after market units.
The Drive: Initially I was driven by Ernie, up the bypass across a roundabout and up another bit of dual carriage way. First impressions were that I was in a fast car. The car felt much livelier than my car but at the time my car only had 1000 ish miles on the clock. The car seemed to punch up the gear box quickly and pulled from lower down in the rev range. It also seemed to punch into its limiter quite easily. Taking into consideration the car was running induction and an exhaust backbox, it was difficult to differenciate between the cars extra power and the extra noise, not horrible boy racer noise, but enough to make you feel that you were travelling faster than you were. I then jumper into the drivers seat and drove exactly the same journey in reverse. The car seemed keener to rev and much more go kart like in terms of steering response, it made the steering feel meatier, perhaps down to the extra weight over the front wheels. I booted the car through the gears and, yes, it did feel faster than my cup. To be honest, I was expecting more. Maybe this was down to me expecting a 200bhp Cup to feel different. There was no getting away from the fact that I was in a fast car. I went along with my dad who drove the car also and he said to me exactly what I was thinking. This was the first time I had driven a car with a modified head, and maybe I was expecting too much of a performance differemce. The car however ran very well and pulled hard from low rpm in say 4th gear. For outright pace it felt very similar to my old mk1 which ran 14.5s quarters and my dad made similar remarks. The suspension was quite impressive with good body control without ruining the compliance.
All in all I think the conversion made a benefit to the overall performance of the car but on that day and in my opinion it didnt feel 30bhp more than my Cup. This was spelled out by doing the same return journey that we did in the LAD in my Cup, only to realise that the cup is a rapid machine in standard trim. My Dad remarking that my car felt just as spritely. To be honest I dont want to immediately slate LAD like many members of this forum, however, I didnt feel like there was a 30bhp power increase over my car, yes there was difference subjectively but the amount I dont know. I am looking forward to reading the review of the car in the coming CCC, and would also like to see some figures for the car. The best thing any body can do is go and drive the car and maybe you might feel something different, because at the end of the day it can always be different for different people.