First off, shipping of these coilovers was extremely fast. The UPS tag was created the next day after I put in the order, with a pick up the following day
Box came to my door within 5 days.
After tending to life matters for a week, I grew impatient and looked around for a quality place to install. I went to Long Tran (LTBMW) for the install and they went at it. Fantastic guys and do excellent work.
OEM Sports suspension
19" Linea Corse Dyna, et30 front, et37 rear
There were three things that bothered me with my car:
1) Too much body roll on the stock Sports Suspension. I never felt confident pushing the car in corners as the I felt the car would just slip. I hated the understeer and floaty boat feel.
2) Annoying fender gap that never let the car look right even with 19" rims on. It annoyed me, but I didn't hate it as much as the body roll
3) Car squats. Every time I pushed on the throttle, the car would squat like a Sumo wrestler and the power never got transferred to the ground properly. The floating rear of the car really got to me and I found myself just NOT getting on the throttle as much.
So, I had to get rid of this nonsense and I stumbled into coilover land. Got in touch with Sonic Tuning and initially thought of buying the S3 set with the adjustable camber plates. Talked to Ray over the phone (a true gentleman who took his time with explaining things and never rushed me or forced me into buying anything). Basically, for a daily driver like mine he suggested me NOT to get the S3 plates as it is an extra adjustment and unless I am really into serious tracking of the car, just not worth the extra hassle. His explanation just made sense to me, so I went with the S1 instead.
Pictures and Impressions:
Notice the wheel gaps and car stance. Quite ugly actually and never brought out the beauty of the wheels either. Lines should flow from back to end in a car like this, but the height just didn't let the wheel do their magic. This was definitely an eye sore for me.
Here the right rear is done....notice the sag on the left wheel!?! That is the sagging energy that transfers through to the steering wheel and gives that floaty rear end during turns.
One flaw I saw was the way the height adjustment would be done. This is the right rear and you can see the height adjustment rings sit down in the control arm area. I did not like this about these coilovers as you would have to take off the wheel, lower the control arm and then adjust the height. KW coilovers have the rings towards the top and are much easier to adjust the height on. So definitely, this is one of the only negative things I have to say about these coilovers.
Thoughts & Driving Impressions:
Finally, addressed all three of my concerns with this install.
Now the suspension is still settling in. Once things are well settled, I will get spacers and bring the rears to a et25 offset (12mm spacer) which I think looks perfect while providing excellent grip with the wider stance. Yes, that means rolling the fender lining which I will have done at LTBMW as well. Fronts will remain the same.
I have dampening set at 7 for the front (out of 12 possible settings) and 8 for the rear. The height was adjusted accordingly by eyeballing the setup. The car can go MUCH LOWER, but I wanted it just enough to eliminate the fender gap. So that is kind of where it is right now. After the spacers and fender roll, I will have the guys do a final height adjustment and be done with it.
Finally, the part everyone has been waiting for....the drive
My 35 mph turns can now be negotiated at 60mph and the car is absolutely PLANTED on the road. Not float, no sway, just a perfect slice. The bumps are absorbed with such quality and class that the car slides over them like butter. You know the bumps are there, but they don't rattle your teeth out. You feel the, enjoy them and move onto the next part of the turn.
The car moves perfectly to the input provided by your steering as you intend. No more unpredictable behaviour. Simply confidence inspiring. Taking turns is a simple joy now and I can't believe we've been missing out on so much with the OEM suspensions.
Now that the squatting behaviour is gone, the car actually puts all the power down to the road in a much more linear and smoother fashion. The car actually feels much faster because the power is getting delivered so nicely between the tire and the road. Tires are in contact all the time so that whole feel gets transferred to the steering wheel providing the driver a better sense of input.
I can't imagine a full proper suspension would bring to the table. LSD, M3 rear subframe bushings, sway bars.....there is a lot to do to really bring out the suspension of this car. However, with these coilovers, I really feel like I've taken a large step in the right direction.
The quality of dampening and road feel these coilovers are providing is amazing in more ways than one. So far, I feel I've taken a good risk with this relatively new coilover setup for the BMW 3 series platform. What remains to be seen now is the quality of the kit and how it keeps up with time.
My true benchmark of a company is not just in the quality of the product, but also the support before, during and after the sale of the product. Everything is always great when things are going well. It is when things go bad that I want to see how the company rises up to the occasion and takes care of their customer. That remains to be seen as Sonic Tuning get settled into the market as a quality company. So far, I have nothing but praises for them. I am very VERY happy with my setup.
Thank you Ray and Jose for a quality experience from the beginning till now. I wish you success in all your future endeavours on the BMW platform.
Thank you Long, Renee and Ivan at LTBMW, especially Renee and Ivan for working hard to make this happen. You guys were real pro's at it.
Further, a genuine thanks to all of your still reading
It takes commitment to stick around this long in a post!