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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Technical Forums > Suspension | Brakes | Chassis > Sonic Tuning S1 Coilovers (Impressions)



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      01-15-2011, 03:16 AM   #1
shaizada
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Sonic Tuning S1 Coilovers (Impressions)

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.

Current Specs:
OEM Sports suspension
19" Linea Corse Dyna, et30 front, et37 rear

Issues:
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:

Before:









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.

The Install:



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.


After Installation:



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

Let's see:


AND FINALLY

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!

Last edited by shaizada; 01-15-2011 at 03:24 AM.
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      01-15-2011, 08:48 AM   #2
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Gaurav - great review - I'd been waiting for it.. Can you expand a bit on the ride quality over the bumps.. I'm thinking of ordering this kit very soon, but Chicago roads are horrible, especially with the salt of the winter.. How does it do over a long series of small bumps, a big bump, expansion joints. Any change in smooth-ness in straighline good roads? Any increase in noise or vibration? Finally, how does the ride directly compare with sport suspension? Some people will describe it as better even, others say the same, or worse. I'm glad that you find handling dramatically improved, this is something I desperately miss from my e36 M3,

Your car looks great!

Sachin

Last edited by Hellrot Sachin; 01-15-2011 at 08:55 AM.
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      01-15-2011, 09:39 AM   #3
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Agreed car looks great now, but I too want to know more about the ride quality as compared to the stock sport suspension. I don't want to loosen my fillings. I am looking for a coilover that will provide a good balance between improved handling and something that is comfortable enough to use as a daily driver.

Also, any rattles or squeaks? One issue that has turned me off from the KW's is the known squeking problem. I could not stand having a car that rattles/squeks over bumps.

Please provide updates as you put more miles on them.
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      01-15-2011, 10:55 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cssnms View Post
Agreed car looks great now, but I too want to know more about the ride quality as compared to the stock sport suspension. I don't want to loosen my fillings. I am looking for a coilover that will provide a good balance between improved handling and something that is comfortable enough to use as a daily driver.

Also, any rattles or squeaks? One issue that has turned me off from the KW's is the known squeking problem. I could not stand having a car that rattles/squeks over bumps.

Please provide updates as you put more miles on them.
+1 only reason why I didn't get KW in the first place..

GREAT review Gaurav. Send me some pics during the day time see how that drop is! Like cssnms said update as you put some miles on them
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      01-15-2011, 10:44 PM   #5
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Wow, this so has me drooling...

Sorry to ask more questions as so many have been asked already in this thread, but can you please post pics of the damping adjusters, especially the front. Im not as concerned about the rear as I already have cutouts in the trunk liner from the PSS9s. I would assume they adjust in the same place.
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      01-18-2011, 12:39 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hellrot Sachin View Post
Gaurav - great review - I'd been waiting for it.. Can you expand a bit on the ride quality over the bumps.. I'm thinking of ordering this kit very soon, but Chicago roads are horrible, especially with the salt of the winter.. How does it do over a long series of small bumps, a big bump, expansion joints. Any change in smooth-ness in straighline good roads? Any increase in noise or vibration? Finally, how does the ride directly compare with sport suspension? Some people will describe it as better even, others say the same, or worse. I'm glad that you find handling dramatically improved, this is something I desperately miss from my e36 M3,

Your car looks great!

Sachin
Sachin, The ride quality of over bumps is actually spectacular. The suspension reacts extremely quick and dampens out the bumps, whether they are small ones, a succession of bumps or joints. You feel their presence no doubt, but it is not at ALL jarring as the dampening behavior is excellent. There is a controlled smoothness that the OEM suspension just didn't have. Definitely BETTER than the OEM sports....not even close.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cssnms View Post
Agreed car looks great now, but I too want to know more about the ride quality as compared to the stock sport suspension. I don't want to loosen my fillings. I am looking for a coilover that will provide a good balance between improved handling and something that is comfortable enough to use as a daily driver.

Also, any rattles or squeaks? One issue that has turned me off from the KW's is the known squeking problem. I could not stand having a car that rattles/squeks over bumps.

Please provide updates as you put more miles on them.
So far, there have been no rattles or squeaks from the actual suspension itself. However, there are more sounds coming from within the cabin due to a stiffer ride. The quality of ride is definitely better and you can actually get the OEM like suspension feel by dialing down to softer settings on the dampener.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fraggy View Post
Wow, this so has me drooling...

Sorry to ask more questions as so many have been asked already in this thread, but can you please post pics of the damping adjusters, especially the front. Im not as concerned about the rear as I already have cutouts in the trunk liner from the PSS9s. I would assume they adjust in the same place.
I'll take some pics of the front dampener setting knob. Basically, it lies right below the OEM strut bar.
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      01-18-2011, 05:41 PM   #7
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Thanks for the extensive review and the details.
LT and his shop is always top notch for their service!

7 and 8 is perfect daily for my preference and driving style =)
Nice stance, cant wait for more pictures.
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      01-19-2011, 03:59 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fraggy View Post
Wow, this so has me drooling...

Sorry to ask more questions as so many have been asked already in this thread, but can you please post pics of the damping adjusters, especially the front. Im not as concerned about the rear as I already have cutouts in the trunk liner from the PSS9s. I would assume they adjust in the same place.
Here you go:

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      01-19-2011, 08:42 PM   #9
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Is that correct? Seems like a PITA or nearly impossible to adjust...

any chance those are in upside down?
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      01-19-2011, 09:53 PM   #10
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Installed by LTBMW so I seriously doubt the install has any issues. I'm sure Jose will chime in if that is incorrect.
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      01-20-2011, 01:02 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeller View Post



Is that correct? Seems like a PITA or nearly impossible to adjust...

any chance those are in upside down?
Most of us would prefer spring sitting on the perch(more secure and when you do the install it's drop in).
Or you can sit the perch up top which is easier for adjustment.

Usually once you find the perfect height it's rare for you to go back to it, but if you do attend shows or having the flexibility to adjust your setup install the perch up top, just make sure its secure.

Thanks for the heads up Gaurav.
Are you shipping me some in and out soon? i prefer animal style! thanks
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      01-20-2011, 01:15 AM   #12
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So the height adjustment is done with those rings that are at the bottom of the spring in the picture?

Not the ring that is at the bottom of the dampener right?

I'm new to all this so bear with me. Also you are saying that the rings at the bottom of the spring in this picture can be set to be ontop instead for ease of adjustment?

This install right now is correct though right??

Please confirm... If there is an error, I can get it rectified.
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      01-20-2011, 01:29 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shaizada View Post
So the height adjustment is done with those rings that are at the bottom of the spring in the picture?

Not the ring that is at the bottom of the dampener right?

I'm new to all this so bear with me. Also you are saying that the rings at the bottom of the spring in this picture can be set to be ontop instead for ease of adjustment?

This install right now is correct though right??

Please confirm... If there is an error, I can get it rectified.
If you want to adjust the height is best adjust the strut, instead of putting more load on the spring.

The install is correct, most of us prefer to sit the perch on the bottom since it's more secure.
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      01-20-2011, 01:53 AM   #14
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Jose, the install guys had a suggestion about the kit. On the third day after the install, the ring at the bottom of the strut came loose and starting making a sound like loose change. The guys tightened it up again but suggested to make use of a second ring to have a double nut system. Basically have a second ring JUST like that one to make sure the bottom ring doesn't loosen up. Just wanted to pass that along.

They told me to keep checking every now and then on all struts to make sure that ring doesn't come loose.
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      01-20-2011, 04:20 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shaizada View Post
Here you go:

Thanks man, thats perfect. I can go from sports car to grandma hauler in a just a few minutes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shaizada View Post
Jose, the install guys had a suggestion about the kit. On the third day after the install, the ring at the bottom of the strut came loose and starting making a sound like loose change. The guys tightened it up again but suggested to make use of a second ring to have a double nut system. Basically have a second ring JUST like that one to make sure the bottom ring doesn't loosen up. Just wanted to pass that along.

They told me to keep checking every now and then on all struts to make sure that ring doesn't come loose.
Hmmmm....

What potential consequences can come from this ring being loose?
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      01-20-2011, 04:24 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shaizada View Post
Jose, the install guys had a suggestion about the kit. On the third day after the install, the ring at the bottom of the strut came loose and starting making a sound like loose change. The guys tightened it up again but suggested to make use of a second ring to have a double nut system. Basically have a second ring JUST like that one to make sure the bottom ring doesn't loosen up. Just wanted to pass that along.

They told me to keep checking every now and then on all struts to make sure that ring doesn't come loose.

We used to have a thinner ring in the rear as well ( just the front) but alot of DIYers made mistakes and started to strip the threads because they were turning them in the wrong direction.

If you use both of the tool and grab each side and tighten it, it wont go anywhere.

I will def pass the message to our R&D and figure out something better in the future.
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      01-20-2011, 04:26 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fraggy View Post
Thanks man, thats perfect. I can go from sports car to grandma hauler in a just a few minutes.


Hmmmm....

What potential consequences can come from this ring being loose?

Hard being a grandma haulers with these, but you can chase them down with out any problems!
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      01-20-2011, 04:48 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shaizada View Post
Jose, the install guys had a suggestion about the kit. On the third day after the install, the ring at the bottom of the strut came loose and starting making a sound like loose change. The guys tightened it up again but suggested to make use of a second ring to have a double nut system. Basically have a second ring JUST like that one to make sure the bottom ring doesn't loosen up. Just wanted to pass that along.

They told me to keep checking every now and then on all struts to make sure that ring doesn't come loose.
MISSION CONTROL WE HAVE A PROBLEM!

Seriously, this doesn't sound good. Last thing I want is to have things loosening up on my suspension or have to keep checking it to make sure things are tight.
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      01-20-2011, 04:56 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cssnms View Post
MISSION CONTROL WE HAVE A PROBLEM!

Seriously, this doesn't sound good. Last thing I want is to have things loosening up on my suspension or have to keep checking it to make sure things are tight.
I had the coils on my car for two yrs, only checked it twice when i was getting alignment.

If you tighten it correctly you wont have to go back to it. The front setup have double rings on it due to load of the springs, in the rear it doesnt take too much to keep it locked in.

Keep in mind it was just a suggestion, not a problem.

It's easy for us to include extra rings to double lock, but we dont want to run into problems we had previously.
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      01-20-2011, 05:09 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jose_sonictuning View Post
I had the coils on my car for two yrs, only checked it twice when i was getting alignment.

If you tighten it correctly you wont have to go back to it. The front setup have double rings on it due to load of the springs, in the rear it doesnt take too much to keep it locked in.

Keep in mind it was just a suggestion, not a problem.
It's easy for us to include extra rings to double lock, but we dont want to run into problems we had previously.
Jose in light of the fact that it loosened is a slight problem as I see it. Now perhaps the installer didn't torque them down enough, but I thought the suggestion was a good one. How does one properly tighten it to prevent it from loosening? Torqueing it down sounds like a simple enough process to me but with all of the vibration the suspension experiences one would think it is only a matter of time before it starts to loosen up unless there is a mechanism in place to keep that from happening.

Do Bilsteins or AST's have two rings on the rear?
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      01-20-2011, 06:11 PM   #21
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It's not that hard to lock it in, just use both of the wrench included in the set one on each side and lock it in.

Bilsteins and AST are setup-ed differently, they dont have rings on the rear strut.

If this is really your concern, extra rings are easily accessible.

Please PM me if you have any other questions.
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      01-20-2011, 10:51 PM   #22
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What does the ring do, and what happens if it gets loose? Will the suspension come apart while driving? I know Im being extreme, but I dont know anything about this stuff. Just wanna be prepared.
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