Over the years, we've all experienced cars that ride poorly. Whether it's a result of cut springs, blown shocks, or absurdly stiff spring rates, it's never an enjoyable drive when your fillings are being rattled loose. Ride quality is especially important in a daily driver, since rough roads and potholes seem to loom around every corner. That's why when considering a suspension upgrade for this daily driven Evo IX MR, we opted to give Bilstein a call. With nearly 60 years of experience developing high-quality shock absorbers, it's safe to say Bilstein knows a thing or two about soaking up bumps in the asphalt. In fact, the Evo MR comes with upgraded Bilstein shocks from the factory, so the Bilstein B16 PSS9 coilovers were a logical performance upgrade for this corner-carving commuter.
Bilstein claims that the B16s can be adjusted "from extreme sportiness to the highest level of driving comfort", which initially seemed a little outlandish. However, after spending an afternoon bolting them onto the Evo, we were impressed by the night-and-day difference in both ride smoothness and precision. The threaded shock bodies also allowed us to lower the car 1 1/2 inches in front and 1 inch in the rear, leveling out the stance and removing the 4x4-style wheel gap. After dialing in the shocks' nine-way adjustment knobs to 70 percent firm on each corner, the Mitsubishi finally felt like a proper sports car. Best of all, these coilovers retained near-factory ride comfort, thanks to helper springs and streetable spring rates.
So, if you're looking for a hard-core track coilover that makes your car ride like it's on rails, the B16 might not be for you. However, if you're looking for an all-around suspension upgrade that's well suited for both street and track duty, give Bilstein a call. We're certainly glad we did.
| Damping and rebound are adjusted in parallel on the B16, which means the ratio is fixed but the values change proportionally with each click of the knob. Although it's not fully two-way adjustable, Bilstein's finely tuned damping ratio keeps the ride both smooth and precise.
| Bilstein's signature blue springs are road-tested on the Nurburgring, but they're also more than capable of tackling pothole-laden city streets. Proper spring rates paired with high-end mono-tube shocks produce a firm yet comfortable ride.
| The B16's threaded shock bodies yield a 30 to 50mm drop, front and rear--that's anywhere from 1.2 to 2 inches for those of us in the United States. While they're not exactly going to slam your car, they'll lower it more than enough to kill the factory wheel gap.
| Here's how the '06 Evo looked before the upgrade. It handled decently with an aftermarket rear sway bar and sticky Nitto tires, but still exhibited serious body roll and understeer entering corners. Fortunately, all that was about to change.
| With the car up in the air, the old MR-trim Bilsteins were unbolted and removed to make way for the B16 coilovers. With an impact gun and an extra pair of hands, this was handled in minutes.
| The old yellow Bilsteins did their job well, but it was time for an upgrade, so to Craigslist they go. The shiny new B16s below look cooler and, more importantly, vastly outperform the stock setup.
| Before selling off the old parts, we would need to pull the top hats and transplant them onto the new shocks. Now is also a good time to add camber plates if you're so inclined.
The lock rings were loosened with the included wrenches, the upper ring was adjusted by hand, and then both rings were locked together once more. It's also a good idea to apply antiseize to the threads so adjustments can be made easily later.
| After removal with a borrowed spring compressor, the OEM top hats were tightened onto the new coilovers. Once on the car, the top nuts can be torqued further with an impact gun.
Here's how the Evo looked once all was said and done. The ugly wheel gap is no more, and it looks much more aggressive thanks to the lower stance. From a performance standpoint, the notorious AWD understeer is all but gone, and turn-in feels crisp and confidence inspiring. Now, if you'll excuse us, we've got some canyon roads to carve.
| Reinstalling the coilovers was simply the reverse of removal. Next, we moved on to adjust the ride height.
| The lock rings were loosened with the included wrenches, the upper ring was adjusted by hand, and then both rings were locked together once more. It’s also a good idea to apply antiseize to the threads so adjustments can be made easily later.
| After completing all four corners, we stood back and admired our new coilovers. Once the car was back on the ground, we checked the ride height and made necessary adjustments to level out the front and rear.
| Here’s how the Evo looked once all was said and done. The ugly wheel gap is no more, and it looks much more aggressive thanks to the lower stance. From a performance standpoint, the notorious AWD understeer is all but gone, and turn-in feels crisp and confidence inspiring. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’ve got some canyon roads to carve.
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