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      10-13-2008, 11:06 PM   #1
denial
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BMW Performance Suspension Impression

First off let me thank Dan for great service, prices, and great shipping rates.

I've looked around the forums and realized that there hasn't been a whole lot of feedback with regard to the BMW performance suspension kit. Thought I'd give me 2 cents worth.

I decided to go with the OEM performance setup for several reasons, most of which revolve around the "install it and forget it" design of the OEM parts. I realize that there's many cheaper and likely better options out there. But for once, I really wanted a mild, well thought out setup where the homework was already done that I could just slap on and not worry about it for 50K+ miles.

The install: Well, I actually didn't do it (for once). This is pretty much the first time which I have not done my own labor. I figured because I was buying OEM, I might as well have the dealership install it to maintain full warranty (I install it, they warranty parts not labor; they install it, they warranty parts and labor, per them). Well, I ended up getting raped somehow as they charged me 11 hours worth of labor. Not sure how this happened as they only had the car for a total of 9 hours (including the wash). Will have to give them a call tomorrow concerning the matter.

Visual impression: it looks VERY similar to how it looked before. I scoured the forums only finding 1-2 examples of cars lowered with this kit. I can safely say that the amount lowered is extremely subtle at best. My car does not seem to be nearly as low as the one pictured here in this thread (picture at the bottom). I do notice how the roof line is lower than before, but the wheel gaps look extremely similar. I even took before and after photos...I'm not even going to bother posting the before photos. I mean, maybe it's the lighting but I honestly can't tell much of a difference. Dissappointing to tell you the truth.

Handling impression: This will just be a quick impression as I have only driven the car from the dealership back to the home front. I guess this is more anecdotal than anything. I always drive with all the traction control off, leaving only the e-diff. That being said there's a slight increase in noticeable stiffness. Bumps are more prominent which, to me, translates to increased feedback. Body roll has significantly decreased, and turn in is much sharper. Taking my favorite switch back on the way home I noticed the car was able to transition very smoothly. I use to feel like I'd have to muscle the car into the second portion of the S, that there wasn't much grace within the transition. But now the car is much more well behaved, remains flat, slides and rotates on throttle. The S opens to a straightaway which then transitions into a hard off cambered left turn. The car just remains flat. Turn in is crisp, the tail comes out easily over the off cambered turn. I counter steer, feather the gas, at the tail snaps back into behavior. Overall very good improvement. I believe that the car should have behaved like this in stock form.

Finally, the pictures:







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      10-14-2008, 01:53 AM   #2
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beautiful. I love it, I was SO close to getting the BMW performance, but couldn't pass up a killer deal on the KW V2's.
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      10-14-2008, 07:20 AM   #3
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Denial, thanks for taking the time to post your impressions. The few members that have the suspension have not been vocal regarding its performance.

I'm also interested in the BMW suspension after daily driving on Koni Yellows/GC coilovers for the past several years, so I understand why you want a low maintenance setup.

I'm less concerned with a noticeable drop, and more concerned in reducing body roll. I can't see the pics here at work, but it might need some time to settle. From the pics that were posted before, the difference is there, but it's not outrageous.

Please post again after you put on some more miles!

Edit: Just to confirm, did you get the optional springs? I know the "performance suspension" consists of new dampers, sway bar, etc., but springs are in addition to that package.
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      10-14-2008, 07:33 AM   #4
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If you don't mind me asking, how much did the suspension cost altogether? And labor?

This was going to be my next purchase. After getting the performance wheels, the gap looks HUGEEEE! I remember reading this suspension only drops 0.5 to 0.75 inches.

Can you measure the gap for me? Just so I can see how low it would be for my car.

...and damn yo' car clean! Looking good.
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      10-14-2008, 07:55 AM   #5
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Denial - nice writeup - ditto the question regarding the optional springs.
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      10-14-2008, 09:14 PM   #6
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MastaMind, atr_hugo,

Yes, I did get the optional springs (the yellow ones). Driving the car to and from work (again) the one thing I notice now much more than ever before is the limitation of the stock tires. Call me crazy but before the car would just roll and lean soaking up the weight of the car in a turn. Now the car stays flat, transferring more weight onto the tires, causing, frankly, less grip. Need to get some proper tires to make the most of it. Another thing that I noticed today is that the car has a much easier time rotating as opposed to lean/roll/lean/push. Just turn, give it some throttle, and it voila the car remains flat and rotates nicely.

penny,

I didn't quite measure the gaps. But I can tell you the fronts / rears are a "two finger" gap, rears being ever so sightly tighter than the fronts. Check your PM's.
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      10-14-2008, 11:58 PM   #7
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After a second look at your photos, I think that's a perfect drop. I've seen some that are just too low IMO.
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      10-15-2008, 12:29 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by denial View Post
Well, I ended up getting raped somehow as they charged me 11 hours worth of labor. Not sure how this happened as they only had the car for a total of 9 hours (including the wash). Will have to give them a call tomorrow concerning the matter.
The time charged is not based on actual time spent, but on what the work is worth. Generally, the labor for customer pay is based on warranty labor time. It keeps it fair and consistent. If you have one technician that works slower than another, you don't have to pay more because the slower technician worked on your car. Don't think of it as getting raped. Think of it as you agreed to pay a certain price.
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      10-15-2008, 07:08 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by denial View Post
MastaMind, atr_hugo,

Yes, I did get the optional springs (the yellow ones). Driving the car to and from work (again) the one thing I notice now much more than ever before is the limitation of the stock tires. Call me crazy but before the car would just roll and lean soaking up the weight of the car in a turn. Now the car stays flat, transferring more weight onto the tires, causing, frankly, less grip. Need to get some proper tires to make the most of it. Another thing that I noticed today is that the car has a much easier time rotating as opposed to lean/roll/lean/push. Just turn, give it some throttle, and it voila the car remains flat and rotates nicely.
Gotcha, thanks for clarifying. I've seen the pictures that Dan from United posted, and it looked like a perfect drop (.75 in). I'm glad the body roll is reduced, and it sounds a bit more predictable in corners. I've never been a fan of riding on the bumpstops.
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      10-15-2008, 07:47 AM   #10
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Thanks for the write-up...I can see a difference in wheel-well gap from stock. I think it may even settle a little more after a few hundred miles. Its perfect imho. The warranty and performance gain looks worth it to me!
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      10-15-2008, 01:54 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by denial View Post
Another thing that I noticed today is that the car has a much easier time rotating as opposed to lean/roll/lean/push. Just turn, give it some throttle, and it voila the car remains flat and rotates nicely.
What about the float over bumpy roads at high speeds? That's what I found the most disconcerting during my test drives. The quicker & lighter steering compared to the 335 made the car a little nervous at speed and the suspension was not sufficiently tight enough to hold it down. Of course, the 335 floats even more but the heavy steering calms down the movement a little.

The gold standard for me as far as a street setup with occasional track was the E46 Performance Package. If this Performance Catalog suspension is very similar to that in terms of spring and damper rates, I'd be a very happy man.
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      10-15-2008, 02:57 PM   #12
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FWIW I have found that just changing off the tires makes a significant difference in the float over undulating surfaces. With the RFTs, my car felt floaty and sometimes even downright insecure over the horrible surfaces in my rural county at speeds as low as 60. With Dunlop Star Specs (225/40 and 255/35 on stock 18" rims), that feeling is completely absent at 80 or more over the same stretches, so much so that I'm thinking the only other change I'll make till the OEM shocks are shot is a set of Sway Barbarians to tame the lean. The suspension seems really to settle down when it's not tossed high by those incredibly stiff sidewalls. Given that I'm not young, that our local roads are horrific, and that the car sees fairly extensive daily use, I'll accept the much vilified trade-off in favor of some comfort (even if that risks being called an undiscerning badge whore).
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      10-15-2008, 03:10 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duckw View Post
FWIW I have found that just changing off the tires makes a significant difference in the float over undulating surfaces. With the RFTs, my car felt floaty and sometimes even downright insecure over the horrible surfaces in my rural county at speeds as low as 60. With Dunlop Star Specs (225/40 and 255/35 on stock 18" rims), that feeling is completely absent at 80 or more over the same stretches, so much so that I'm thinking the only other change I'll make till the OEM shocks are shot is a set of Sway Barbarians to tame the lean. The suspension seems really to settle down when it's not tossed high by those incredibly stiff sidewalls. Given that I'm not young, that our local roads are horrific, and that the car sees fairly extensive daily use, I'll accept the much vilified trade-off in favor of some comfort (even if that risks being called an undiscerning badge whore).
I didn't mean to criticise someone else for wanting a little comfort. No, when I went to Watkins Glen for Oktoberfest, I took some rides in the demo cars BMW was offering. I was able to compare to my 335i running on +1 Pirelli PZero Nero M+S.

The 135i on OEM runflats felt the same as I remembered - better throttle response than my 335, nimbler, lighter steering and better brakes. But still a little disconnected above 60 when the suspension could no longer cope with the movement of the car.

The M3 on PS2 simply blew my mind. EDC worked very well and the M diff found traction in the rain on bumpy, curvy, slick country roads like I didn't think was possible. It inspired a lot of confidence so you could drive it much faster than the other 2.


I would very much like to know if the Performance suspension could turn the 1 into the unflappable driving machine I am looking for, or if I have to turn to the aftermarket for that.
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      10-15-2008, 03:12 PM   #14
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I wonder how the Performance suspension would pair with the High Performance Bushing set.
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      10-15-2008, 03:43 PM   #15
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ADC, I didn't think for a moment that you had criticized anyone for wanting a little comfort. It's only that I've seen I don't know how many other posts insisting that the 135 was intended for drivers who don't know real handling when they see it and who only aspire to a pretty badge. Your post makes admirable sense. I merely wanted to point out that better rubber can address the issue of the disconcerting float.
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      10-15-2008, 05:26 PM   #16
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adc,

To tell you the truth I'm not sure if the odd rear floating feeling is gone or not. The only roads I've been playing on are very smooth. My gut says that this has improved, but I'll keep and extra eye on it in the coming weeks as I drive it around more.

No comment on comparisons to the E46 suspension package. Cars I have for comparison are an older Prelude (yellow Koni's / GC coilovers) and an Evo (Ohlins R/T, Works plates front and rear). In fact this is the first RWD car I've owned.

That being said, I think the major benefit of buying this setup is the whole warranty + install it and forget it factor + large improvement over stock. I am quite confident that TC Kline / KW / Ohlin etc all are far superior kits measured in both handling, ride quality, and cost effectiveness. However, with my Ohlins setup I had to take them off every so often to get revalved...the camber plates started to rust...the pillow balls started to squeak over time...I just got tired of the little things. But if you plan on tracking the car, in general, it would seem like the aftermarket route would be better allowing for custom spring rates, alignment, and adjustable valving (to tailor for specific track conditions).

Duckw,

I'd be VERY interested in seeing how the car performs with just a new front sway. For whatever reason I think that the majority of my current setup can be attributable to a larger front sway. Do keep us posted if you pursue that route.

Phiberglass,

Yeah, I wanted just a touch lower too to be honest. As far as wheels are concerned, looking to maybe pick up a set of Empower wheels if they are ever made. I really would like to run 245/265's without issues.
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      10-15-2008, 05:33 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by denial View Post
adc,

To tell you the truth I'm not sure if the odd rear floating feeling is gone or not. The only roads I've been playing on are very smooth. My gut says that this has improved, but I'll keep and extra eye on it in the coming weeks as I drive it around more.

No comment on comparisons to the E46 suspension package. Cars I have for comparison are an older Prelude (yellow Koni's / GC coilovers) and an Evo (Ohlins R/T, Works plates front and rear). In fact this is the first RWD car I've owned.

That being said, I think the major benefit of buying this setup is the whole warranty + install it and forget it factor + large improvement over stock. I am quite confident that TC Kline / KW / Ohlin etc all are far superior kits measured in both handling, ride quality, and cost effectiveness. However, with my Ohlins setup I had to take them off every so often to get revalved...the camber plates started to rust...the pillow balls started to squeak over time...I just got tired of the little things. But if you plan on tracking the car, in general, it would seem like the aftermarket route would be better allowing for custom spring rates, alignment, and adjustable valving (to tailor for specific track conditions).
Thank you - much appreciated. If you could post impressions every now and then, I'm sure a lot of fence sitters would be interested.

I want primarily a street setup that won't fall apart on track. That's why I'd like to avoid expensive and adjustable coilover systems and woudl much prefer to stick with OEM items. But only if they cut the mustard.
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      10-15-2008, 05:44 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by denial View Post
No comment on comparisons to the E46 suspension package. Cars I have for comparison are an older Prelude (yellow Koni's / GC coilovers) and an Evo (Ohlins R/T, Works plates front and rear). In fact this is the first RWD car I've owned.
How would you compare the Performance Suspension to your GC/yellows? I have that same setup on my daily driver, and I've become a fan of the koni's and their adjustability.

Now that I can see the pics, it looks like the perfect drop--subtle, not too much.
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      10-15-2008, 09:36 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MastaMind View Post
How would you compare the Performance Suspension to your GC/yellows? I have that same setup on my daily driver, and I've become a fan of the koni's and their adjustability.

Now that I can see the pics, it looks like the perfect drop--subtle, not too much.
Well, this is going to be really hard to compare. I'll just say that the entire suspension kit + springs seems to be a whole lot more refined than the setup I use to run on the prelude (off the shelf yellow koni's and GC 350/450 springs, 25 mm rear sway bar on the 'lude, overall dropped too much for its own good). That and I sold the prelude about 7-8 years ago too so my memory's a bit fuzzy.

I really don't know what to say other than I feel like the suspension package for the BMW is a whole lot more "complete" in the sense that the car just seems to work better without compromise. My old prelude was just a little...rough.

Sorry if this wasn't all that helpful, it's just really hard to compare the two.
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      10-16-2008, 12:10 AM   #20
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Denial,

I am definitely going to go the swaybar route. I had planned to get the Sway Barbarian set, but I might be talked into buying just the front bar and trying that first. The rear bar is after all a real bear to install, and there isn't all that much saving in buying the pair together as opposed to separately. It appears your setup replaces only the front and you appear to be satisfied with the result. Perhaps, even without the rest of the mods in your BMW setup, I might find just the front bar kills enough of the lean to make me happy. I'm not really unhappy now, but coming from a MINI and before that a Porsche 996, I have been accustomed to much flatter cornering. (And my previous BMWs have all had Konis or Bilsteins and aftermarket sway bars.) I must say, though, that with the Star Specs the 135, lean and all, corners faster than either the MINI or the Carerra. I'd bet that with these tires the R&T slalom time would be one or two mph greater than the 70.6 they pulled. The car sticks amazingly. When I get the front bar on, I'll try to remember to post some impressions.
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      10-16-2008, 07:10 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by denial View Post
Well, this is going to be really hard to compare. I'll just say that the entire suspension kit + springs seems to be a whole lot more refined than the setup I use to run on the prelude (off the shelf yellow koni's and GC 350/450 springs, 25 mm rear sway bar on the 'lude, overall dropped too much for its own good). That and I sold the prelude about 7-8 years ago too so my memory's a bit fuzzy.

I really don't know what to say other than I feel like the suspension package for the BMW is a whole lot more "complete" in the sense that the car just seems to work better without compromise. My old prelude was just a little...rough.

Sorry if this wasn't all that helpful, it's just really hard to compare the two.
I hear you. It's definitely a different type of setup, and I'm sure the rates on the GC's were a bit higher than the BWM setup, relative to the cars.

The above bolded text reaffirms what I was thinking--I guess I just wanted to make sure that BMW didn't just put out some springs w/ about the same rates as stock but are a bit lower.

Thanks again for taking the time to answer all our questions. :thumbup:
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      10-16-2008, 09:50 AM   #22
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