In the last installment of the sedan project, I added a few bolt-ons and FlashPro to get things started. Shortly after, I was on the hunt for some suspension goods to get the car out of its 4x4 status, and exploit the Si’s ability to corner. Now, if you poke around on the web, you’ll find a number of manufacturers offering simple spring packages, entry-level coilovers, and even high-end, ultra-expensive suspension kits. Like many areas of Honda-building, many enthusiasts reach for the most expensive race application they can possibly afford, while others just look for what will get their car the lowest. On a street car like this one, both are terrible ideas. Race-bred coilovers with ridiculous spring rates and extreme valving to match are more of a headache than an “edge” for a car that sees more city streets and freeways than the occasional romp through an open track day. Furthermore, the trend of slamming your car so low that you can’t make it up a driveway seems like two steps backward when trying to build something that you can actually enjoy.
My intention for finding a set of coilovers was twofold; increase the car’s fun factor with a positive jump forward in handling and control, and maintain the car’s daily driving comfort with the occasional infant on board. My search eventually led me to Jeff Cheechov of The Progress Group. This is the same company that added a rear antiroll bar to the Project CR-Z build last year that blew me away. I contacted Jeff about possibly sourcing a rear bar for the Si, and he explained that Progress not only had the bar I was looking for, but the company had just put the finishing touches on an all-new coilover kit for the eighth-gen Civic. He adds, “We’d been in development with this kit for a long, long time. We listened to some of the public’s complaints about current systems available, and to be honest, there were quite a few unique components necessary to produce a proper functioning, complete coilover system. The spring and damper tuning had been an ongoing process for a number of months, but we were beyond pleased with the end result.” Excited to be one of the first to try the new Progress Competition Series kit, I headed to Anaheim, California, home of The Progress Group, where the majority of the suspension components are designed and produced in-house. Ed Flores of Progress was on hand to help with the installation and answer any questions that I had. Ed informed me this particular kit allows a height adjustment from 1.0 to 2.0 inches lower than OEM. That’s not a huge window, but it addresses quite possibly the most important area of a properly lowered eighth gen. It’s the “sweet spot” that Progress was shooting for where the end user wouldn’t be faced with tire clearance or major alignment modifications. Installation of the coilovers is quick and simple, especially with someone of Flores’ experience. The larger, 22mm rear sway bar includes new poly bar bushings and a reinforcement kit for the lower control arm mounting points, and is a basic bolt-on that requires no modification.
After the installation, Ed took me on a quick tour of the facility that included a shock-assembly “clean room.” He displayed some of the internal components of the shock assemblies and gave me a demonstration of the in-house shock dyno. For those who aren’t familiar, the dyno cycles the shock up and down, and measures the damping forces, recording data to a PC for evaluation and adjustment. Ed states, “The Competition Series for the eighth-gen Civic is equipped with twin-tube, gas-charged damper technology, cellular foam bump stops, and application-specific cold-wound springs. As far as spring rates, we first establish them on a computer model, then do some rigorous real-world testing on the street and on some of Orange County’s most demanding highways.” The cold-wound springs are proudly made right here in the USA. Rear springs feature eighth-gen specific-fit aluminum threaded mounts and molded polyurethane isolators on the chassis for quiet, noise-free performance. To complete the kit, Progress even includes two front alignment cams for dialing in your front camber settings—a nice touch.
The hours of testing certainly paid off, as the new coilover kit, after over 600 miles on the Si, has proven to be exceptionally street-friendly. When pushed, the sedan is a whole new animal as grip is dramatically improved. Just like the CR-Z, the Progress rear sway bar fights hard to control body roll and does a great job doing so, only showing the slightest hint as you push the car harder into the corners (something you simply can’t do safely on the stock suspension).
I’ll be revisiting the crew at Progress for a proper alignment, corner balancing, and more insight from this group of suspension gurus! Stay tuned…
Progress Group Competition Series coilovers, PN 75.1025
Spring rates: Linear 275 lb/in (4.9 kg/mm) front, 400 lb/in (7.1 kg/mm) rear
Price: $1,095 (estimated street price)
Progress Group rear sway bar, PN 62.1009
Progress Group/SPC rear adjustable upper links, PN 52.1025
Price: $295 (pair)