So some proper clean dry road today
Trying all sorts of combinations of damper settings over the week, I finally settled on 2 front 3 rear. This gives a firm well controlled ride. Body motion is checked very well, primary ride is fluid, firm but acceptable and secondary ride impresses with the lack of patter and disturbance for what is a firm road setup.
So now the setup is finalised, what has the kit done for ride and handling?
Ride is very firm by comparison to stock setup. There is obviously less insulation from poor road surfaces, however, the actual degree of ride harshness seems to be barely increased from stock. On some broken surfaces, the car is surprisingly less ruffled than on the stock setup. I put this down to the damping which at the settings I am using is firm and fast enough to check wheel overshoot. Drops and rises from drain grills and covers are more evident than on stock. Trim rattles are excited a bit more than on stock setup. Ridged concrete dual carriageways are little if any less comfortable than on stock setup.
The first thing that notices is that the car follows faithfully all the contours of the road surface where the original setup would kind of float between the peaks. On smooth or gently undulating A and B roads this translates into much improved stability and feel.
Because the springs are much stiffer than stock, roll, pitch and dive are very much reduced. I only briefly passengered in a car with Tein SS, but would say that from memory, this setup is quite a bit firmer in primary ride terms. Cornering is now a bit on the deceptive side. On stock setup the car would roll about under cornering load and this would make the grip levels drop off as the limits approached. Now the car seems tied down very firmly indeed. On smooth corners, the speed that can be carried is far greater than I could manage with the stock setup. There is no longer that feel that roll is upsetting the geometry and it is now much easier to feel what the tyres are actually doing. This leads you into going faster than originally intended, just because it feels right. Added to this is the increase in the cars responses to the throttle. There is more room to use the throttle to steer the car than there was. The caveat to this is that it is also now much more apparent how the LSD pushes the car about.
Introduce it to roads with more bumps (like your average British B road) and it is very evident that the springs are much stiffer. The car follows the surface faithfully but never gets into any sort of pitching or corner to corner oscillation. Body control remains excellent. You are much more aware of the unevenness of the road, but equally, more aware of how each wheel is loaded as a result. The front remains on line over bumps that would have the stock setup bouncing wide, the rear feels stiff enough to hop but does not, just resolutely staying in touch with the tarmac. When a bump did upset the rear end, it was totally controllable as there was nice straightforward information coming back about how well the rear was loaded.
Get onto a really gnarled C road and you find the compromise. On very uneven roads, the car is far too stiff and travel too limited. It is drivable, but someone in a stock setup would be far quicker. It is a compromise that I expected to be fair. It is not terrible, just not as good as the compliance of a stock setup.
The biggest wow factor is in very fast sweeping corners. Here stability and feedback are both greatly enhanced. I would say that I have been able to add 10 - 20% to corner speeds on this type of bend where the roll reduction and body control allow so much more cornering load by preventing roll building up.
Lastly, braking now involves much less dive than before. Stability is again better and subjectively, the car seems to have a bit more grip under braking.
Would I recommend these then? With springs at 4kg/mm front and 6kg/mm rear, definitely yes. Unless you do a lot of driving on roads where you need to think about ground clearance.
Thanks again to http://www.waltermotorsports.com/main.php
for good communication and a very fast delivery.