Any smarty pants know what the benefits between coilover suspension and regular struts and springs (macpherson) is. From what I can tell coilovers are designed to be adjustable, not necessarily top performers. But I am not certain.
A good coilover setup has several advantages over lowering springs that fit in the stock struts.
The first, and really most important feature is adjustability. You can set the height of the car, within a range, without removing the suspension. Second, In a properly designed coilover system, the shock absorbers are designed and valved to operate optimally at whatever height setting the driver chooses. When a simple lowering spring is installed in the factory strut, it may cause the factory shock absorber to operate improperly, sometimes causing the suspension to smash the bump stops on rough roads. That can be bad for both your handling and your wallet. Third, because of the narrower wind of most coilover springs, the camber of the wheels can be adjusted, either using camber plates or hogging the mounting holes in the strut mounts (the budget racing solution). On the MINI, there is very little room for adjustment with the stock suspension setup. By getting negative camber (looking at the front of the car, the bottom of the wheels are further out than the tops of the wheels) one can improve cornering by achieving a better tire contact patch.
The one caveat with the coilover systems is that they need proper adjustment to work most effectively. For the real enthusiast, mearly measuring the height of each corner is not sufficient. The car must be corner weighed, which costs money. An alternative to paying for your car to be corner weighed is to find a local club racer with scales and bribe them with beer. I find beer is a very valuable currency with club racers. Try www.scca.org and go to your local chapter and star calling. If you're in the Philly region, give me a call, and I'll point you in the right direction.
Shameless plug: we have KW coilovers and lowering springs in stock, for both early and late cars. These are TUV and ISO 9001 approved, German built systems. They come with a lifetime warranty and are very competitivly priced.
Okay, so its almost 2 years old, but that is a good post there Eric.
Does anyone else have anything to add to this. I would like to get some coilovers fitted to my MCS, but am unsure if I may be better of just doing my springs, certainly my wallet would be better off! I reckon I could get KW V2 coilovers fitted for AUD2400-2800, as opposed to around AUD600 for a set of Eibach springs.
On the one hand I just want the car a bit lower, but also want the added benefits of improved suspension ... so coilovers or springs?
Just about all coilovers will give you a much harsher ride, but along with that is better handling. However, if you just replace your springs with some progressive rate springs, the ride can be improved for normal streets, and a little harsher for large bumps, and the handling can be improved too. Some springs provide much better handling than stock springs. Basically, if you don't need the adjustibility or extreme performance then go with the springs. For springs, H-Sport are very popular and have been found to be one of the best handling springs -- lower car about one inch or less. H&R springs are also popular and lower car a little more, about one and a quarter inch. Sorry, don't know what that is in metrics.
"Bluebird" 2004 IB/W MC
CVT SS+, MINI Madness CAI & Exhaust, HK & XM Satellite
It's hard to extend over the the first reply. What I see is a lot of people do is say get eibach springs, then spax dampers which are mismatched, whereas coilovers are matched.
The thing is though, if you change the ride height you then need the geometry done again. time and cost consuming. My reason for getting coilovers is because they are at the top end, so made better than cheaper spring/damper kits.
My Clio is lowered -80mm on FK coilovers and the ride is not bad at all.
with dampers, look for ones which are adjustable for compression AND expansion. most only adjust for expansion (aka rebound) a damper adjustable in both can be much more accurately set to help car handle and ride better. Nitron dampers adjust in both ways and I think some AVO dampers do too. can't remember about bilsteins.
A damper which is adjustable in both ways allows you to use slightly softer springs, hence helping traction/grip in a straight line and out of corners.
basically, for the road, you want the softest spring you can get away with and stiff dampers. softer springs give better traction and a better ride therefore the wheels are in better contact with the road, have better contact patch and better grip.
(i'm not saying make the car soft, just use the softest you can get away with. if the car is JUST starting to have slight body roll when you're really pushing it, use that spring and not a stiffer one which may eliminate the roll. you may have less roll at flat out speeds with the stiffer spring, but for the majority of the time, you will lose out with harsher ride, more crashing over bumps and more wheelspin)
these are my thoughts based on my experience with setting up cars. a lot of suspension set up is a 'black art' and there is no susbstitute for trying things and seeing what works best.
TVR Tuscan S. 400bhp, 0-60 3.8 0-100 8.08. 195mph. Silver/Black roof Cooper. Hillclimb MK2 Fiesta. 150bhp. Beats Subarus. Building a 'bike engine single seater. 320kg, 200bhp. around 600bhp per ton. 0-100 6 seconds.
I have a set of Bilstein PSS9 and I'm very happy with them. I have them on the standard X-Lite 16" and run flat. They are equally at home on street or track. The ride on the street (in Bangkok) is firm but not rough (on the softest setting). The ride at low speed is quite smooth (on the softest setting) Once you speed up, the ride get firmer as the progressive springs working harder. I would recommend them to any one.
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