Cobb Tuning Green Speed Project: Shifter upgrades

As we continue on our WRX Green Speed build we thought the stock WRX was due for some fresh fluids, quick maintenance and a new Cobb Tuning shifter, here’s why!

When Subaru released the 2015-2021 VA WRX, WRX enthusiasts were excited they were finally getting a 6 speed transmission in the WRX, something no longer reserved only for the STI’s. Subaru did a fantastic job with the transmission, but as always, there is always room for improvement. The factory shifter is fairly smooth, but has reasonably long throws between gears, the gear lever can be moved pretty far left and right while in 1st or 2nd gear and the new cable style shifter bushings tend to be a bit too soft for enthusiasts.

Thankfully, the good folks over at COBB Tuning have the solution for these problems in their Stage 1+ Drivetrain Package. The package contains their Shift Stop, Short Throw Shift Plate, Cable bushing and choice of Delrin & aluminum shiftknob.

The COBB Short Throw Shift Plate gives owners a shorter throw between gears, with a heavier counter weight for a crisper shifts, all while retaining the stock shift lever and reverse lockout. The shift plate is secured to the transmission using a roll pin that needs to be hammered out and then pressed back into the new COBB billet shift plate. COBB also provides two shift throw reductions on the plate, either 15% or 35% reduction, by using an adjustable pivot point on the plate. When we installed the plate onto our 2018 WRX project, we installed it with the 15% reduction. It still kept a nice shift length and throw positions with reducing the distance between gears to a mild, but noticeable amount. One thing to note for the installation of the shift plate is that we’d recommend professional installation as the roll pins can become corroded and require lots of heat, and different sized punches to be removed from the transmission.

The pairing of the COBB Short Throw Shift Plate with one of COBB’s upgraded cable bushings changed how crisp the shifts were. On the VA WRX’s, Subaru decided to use shift cables instead of rods like they traditionally have used in the past. At the end of the shift cable, there is a fairly soft rubber bushing that connects the cable to the shift plate and actually moves the shift plate. Due to how soft the rubber bushing is and can become as it degrades over time, it leads to some vague shifts and dead spots in the swing between gears. COBB’s upgraded Cable bushing is a multipiece bushing consisting of an aluminum outer housing and an IGUS polymer bearing in the middle where it slides onto the shift plate. The IGUS polymer bearing provides a low wear and friction surface which leads to a longer life. The bushing installed very easily, with a simple removal of the old bushing (ours fell out of the cable when we removed it, but may require being pushed out using some channel locks), then the new bushing slides into the cable and is tightened in place by utilizing the three machine screws provided by COBB which expands the bushing. It then slides onto the shift plate and is retained by the provided washer and the OEM cable clip. The installation is very straight forward and something that can be done in a driveway with a 12mm socket, some needle nose plyers to pull the cable retention clip out, and a set of jack stands.

On the inside of the car, we installed one of COBB’s shift stop plates. The shift stop is one of the best investments on the VA chassis WRX. From factory, Subaru installs a shift stop plate for the 5th and 6th gear to prevent the shifter lever from moving over too far, but did not provide this same shift stop for 1st and 2nd gear. This means the shifter on the first two gears can move over an excessive amount and make it feel like there is almost an inch of shifter lateral travel while in gear. The COBB Shift Stop helps lock in the lateral shifter movement in 1st and 2nd gear to reduce the amount that the shifter will move. The Shift stop is also adjustable to each individual’s personal preference of how tight they want the shifter to be. Installation is fairly simple by removing the shift knob, then the shifter surround by gently pulling up on it, removing the shift boot over the shift lever and setting it aside. Then, there are two 8mm bolts that hold the stock portion of the shifter guide in place that need to be removed. COBB provides two threaded rods that then get put in place of the stock bolts, and 2 sets of nuts, a thin and thick nut. The thin nut is put in place on the threaded rod finger tight, then the shift plate is installed over top. This is where the driver can find their perfect adjustment of how much limitation they want to allow for the shift lever going into 1st or 2nd gear. Once they’ve found the position, the two thicker nuts provided with the kit get tightened down and locks the shift stop in place. After the installation, the shifter feels much more precise and gets rid of the large ambiguous space while in gear. The shift boot can be placed back over the shift lever and the trim can be snapped back into place.

We then installed COBB’s Delrin Shift knob to finish off the installation. Their signature shift knob is a good sized ball style knob that’s finished with a billet trim ring with COBB’s logo on the bottom of the knob. They have designed it so there is proper clearance with the reverse lockout on the shifter. COBB offers their shifter in both white or black delrin tops, and either black or red anodized trim on the bottom. The benefit of Delrin being used in their knobs is that delrin is a type of polymer, so in the winter it doesn’t get anywhere near as cold as a metal knob and in the summer, it stays cool, so no need to burn your hands. Their knob has a great feel to it and positioning sits about the same height as the OEM Subaru knob. It really rounds out the complete drive train package.

All in all, the COBB Stage 1+ Drivetrain Package changes the way that the VA WRX shifts in a significant way. It’s much crisper, shorter throws, less dead space in the shifter, and offers a nice comfortable ergonomic knob to top things off with. COBB’s Stage 1+ Drivetrain package is a must have for any VA WRX owner out there and can be found through your local COBB dealer.