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2002 Subaru Impreza WRX - HSD HR Coilovers - Proving Grounds

Upgrading ride quality and performance on an ’02 Subaru Impreza WRX.

Oct 9, 2012
Modp 1210 01+2002 subaru impreza wrx+cover Photo 1/7   |   2002 Subaru Impreza WRX - HSD HR Coilovers - Proving Grounds

Test Mule
‘02 Subaru Impreza WRX
Engine
Subaru EJ20 turbocharged boxer-4
Relevant Mods
HKS downpipe, exhaust, blow-off valve, StopTech brake rotors & pads.

Key Features

  • Large piston monotube design displaces bumps and road irregularities quickly and effectively
  • Adjustable ride height on the mounting bracket, spring preload isn’t affected
  • 15–way single rebound and compression adjustment allows for quick and easy suspension tuning
  • Pillow-ball bushing upper mounts with adjustable camber settings stiffen up the front end while allowing for custom suspension setup

Description
With an array of different suspension options available for our ’02 Subaru Impreza WRX test car, we wanted a coilover setup that would first and foremost be able to deal with the bumps and grinds of everyday driving but still offer enough performance for some track excursions, all the while coming in at an affordable price. After some research, HSD Coilovers seem to meet our criteria by utilizing a monotube damper design that displaces the internal oil quickly and efficiently allowing reliable and consistent performance even after prolonged abuse.

Adjustability is key when looking at a coilover setup; the more adjustments available the better. HSD comes standard with anodized aluminum top mounts that can dial in a variety of camber setting and they also use pillow-ball bearings (which HSD claims are noise free) to ensure a compliant ride. For ride height adjustment, the shock bodies are threaded top to bottom, and ride height changes are made by rotating the entire shock assembly and not the spring, thus affecting preload like on some coilovers. This means that even the super slammed cars can still take advantage of the shock’s full movement. Fine-tuning of the damping is done through 15-way-adjustable dials located at the base of each coilover.

HSD coilovers seem like a great bargain, delivering remarkably good build quality that feels robust and solid while retailing for roughly $1,300.

Results
The ’02 WRX uses a MacPherson strut suspension setup on both the front- and rear-drive wheels. That means the suspension installation is as simple as it gets, and as a bonus, the rear coilovers have full camber adjustment. Using normal tools, installation will take about four hours for the average mechanic. During the installation we marked the eccentric front camber bolts and had to temporarily remove the rear seat to gain access to the upper rear top mounts.

Modp 1210 05+2002 subaru impreza wrx+old vs new Photo 5/7   |   The HSD coilovers’ compact design and adjustability is obvious when compared with the front struts with lowering springs.

After a few head-wobbling testdrives with the damping set to full stiff, we adjusted the easy-to-reach knobs on each coilover to a softer setting—just slightly above the middle setting and just slightly harder in the rear. The result was a similar ride quality as the Prodrive lowering springs and stock Subaru shocks the coilovers replaced.

Since the HSD coilovers have stiffer springs, the Subaru felt more planted, but the ride quality didn’t feel harsh. Even during acceleration and braking, the nose of the Impreza remains flat without dipping. At highway speed, lane changes and sweeping corners feel solid and confidence inspiring. During a run through the canyons we noticed the steering input became sharper and cornering speed had increased.

Overall the WRX feels more neutral and allows for confident driver input. That does come at a slight trade-off though: Cracks and uneven road conditions are a bit more noticeable, but we’re happy to give up a little driver comfort for a roller coaster experience through the twisty back country roads.

Modp 1210 06+2002 subaru impreza wrx+installed Photo 6/7   |   The coilovers bolt up without any custom work needed. All the brake and ABS lines attach just like with the OEM struts.

Having driven the canyon roads on old, stuck rubber, we thought it would be smart to upgrade the WRX’s wheel and tire package with some 17x7-inch Konig Daylites and BFGoodrich 215/45R17-inch Sport Comp-2 high-performance tires, and the decision proved very beneficial as the new setup made the WRX an even better handling machine.

Modp 1210 07+2002 subaru impreza wrx+wheels Photo 7/7   |   We also upgraded the wheels and tires to 17x7-inch Konig Daylite wheels with 215/45 R17 BFGoodrich Sport Comp-2 tires to complement the new suspension.

Sources

BFGoodrich
877-788-8899
www.bfgoodrichtires.com
Konig Wheels
Plainview, NY 11803
516-822-5700
http://www.konigwheels.com
HSD Coilover Systems
877-225-5577
http://www.hsdcoilovers.ca

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