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Lowering Your Car Affordably

Finding ride height adjustment and improving handling performance on a tired WRX

Steve Baur
May 1, 2013

Test Subject

'03 Subaru Impreza WRX
Engine
Subaru EJ20 turbocharged boxer-4
Relevant Mods
STI cat-back, cat-less up-pipe, '07 WRX wheels

There are very few manufacturers that offer a stock ride height that is suitable to performance-minded enthusiasts, and Subaru certainly isn't one of them. Then again, Subaru wants to make sure you'll be able to enjoy the added grip from its vehicle's stellar AWD system on all surfaces. If you're strictly a pavement pounder, however, bringing the ride height down not only looks better, but it also lowers the center of gravity, thus improving the handling capability of the vehicle. Lowering said vehicle can be an expensive endeavor, though, and if there isn't a lot of room in the monthly budget for performance upgrades, Raceland offers affordable coilover packages that can get your ride lowered to where it needs to be.

Modp 130000 02 Photo 2/17   |   Considering the $499 asking price of the Raceland Ultimo coilovers, the overall construction and powdercoated finish was very good.

Description

While Raceland offers a standard coilover system for numerous vehicles, including the Subaru WRX platform, we are taking a look at the company's Ultimo coilover upgrade. With 15 percent stiffer spring rates (505 lbs/in front, 315 lbs/in rear) and matching shock valving over the base coilover system (450 lbs/in front, 280 lbs/in rear), the Ultimo components are also shortened-the combination reduces body roll substantially to allow for operation at an even lower ride height.
The Subaru GD Impreza WRX Ultimo coilovers fit 2002-07 WRX sedan and wagon, and are capable of ride height changes 1-4-inches below that of the factory suspension thanks to the CNC-machined locking perches. With adjustable lower mounts, vehicle owners can adjust the ride height independently of the spring pre-load, and the Raceland Ultimo coilovers use front and rear pillowball mounts and offer camber adjustment on the front components. The shocks, while non-adjustable, have been matched to the coil spring rates. Raceland powdercoats the shock bodies and coil springs for long-lasting good looks and performance, and the kits come with a satisfaction guarantee and 2-year warranty.

Modp 130000 03 Photo 3/17   |   Pillowball mounts are used fore and aft, and camber is adjustable on the front components

Installation

With the MacPherson strut design employed at all four corners on the WRX, installation is very simple, though the job should be tackled by someone with general knowledge of suspension components, as well as the associated dangers of working with any type of coil springs.
Post installation, a proper four-wheel alignment should be next on your list; we installed the Raceland Ultimo coilovers at Bayside Auto Works (Spring Hill, Florida), which also handled the alignment using its John Bean imaging alignment machine.

Results

While we didn't quite take full advantage of the great ride height adjustment capability of the Raceland Ultimo coilovers, we did take out an inch of ride height at the rear of the car, and closer to 3 inches out of the front to level off this 185,000-mile WRX and lower it enough for a 1-1.5-inch fender-to-tire gap.
Ride quality is noticeably stiffer than the stock suspension package, and predictably, handling is flat when turning, as well as under acceleration and braking. The WRX is now extremely responsive, offering great feedback through the steering wheel, as well as the seat of your pants. We did notice a slight amount of increased noise from the suspension, but this is to be expected given the lack of rubber isolators and pillowball bearings. It's nothing that can't easily be solved with a bit of volume from the stereo knob, or an aftermarket exhaust. While a more youthful individual will likely be content with the overall ride quality, those looking for a mildly less stiff ride over stock may want to look at Raceland's standard coilover kit.
If the WRX wasn't fun enough to drive already, though, the go-cart-like handling from the coilover swap inspires you to take the turns even harder than before. At $499 for the set, you really can't beat the performance to affordablility ratio that the Raceland coilover kit offers.

Sources

Raceland US
Bluffdale, UT 84065
801-365-1440
http://www.racelandus.com
Bayside Autoworks
Spring Hill, FL 34609
(352) 556-5255
http://www.baysideautoworks.com
By Steve Baur
1 Articles

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