Ride & Handling update 2012

Folk have been asking me what my latest round of handling/suspension mods have done and its only after 2000 miles around europe that I can now answer. Before that I'd barely driven the car since all the work last year so here goes.

First let's summarise the recent mods that were carried out last winter 2011:

993RS solid monoball top mounts front and rear.
Solid rennline subframe mounts for the Rear suspension side sections.
Rebushed rear suspension arms to match 993RS - kinematic toe and A arms to RS hardness.
Front 993RS M003 strut brace.
New set of Michelin Pilot Sport N2
standard 993RS geometry
standard 993RS ride heights

Already the car had the following suspension modifications:

RS front uprights
RS spec front wishbone bushes
RS anti roll bars and bushes front and rear
RS engine mounts
RS brakes
GT2 EVO front tie rods
Bilstein PSS10

In short, the addition of rear RS bushed rear arms, monoball RS top mounts and the rennline solid subframe bushes has really completed the package and totally transformed the car. Along with all the existing mods the car just has a rightness about it and is in a strange way more composed and more compliant than it ever was.

Down very steep rain sodden alpine passes I was finding grip under braking and in corners and hairpins that I never knew was possible (the brand new set of Michelins obviously helped here too) and even when pushing very very hard I didn't encounter one whiff of understeer. Masses of grip and composure and so much confidence exuded by the car.

On some days on some roads, time stood still and everything flowed effortlessley, each corner and straight perfectly blending into one another with seemingly almost zero effort or throught required by the driver... the world momentarily a better, more complete place. Of course the flatter roads on the continent do help consderably but still, even on real bumpy stuff like the D996 to Dijon, the car was just sensational and not once did I wish that I was in something more modern or wish for more power or more of anything for that matter. Back in blighty our uneven roads (which look flat but aren't, not by a long chalk) do pull the car around a little so you do get some weaving over crowns and some of the gentle almost impercetible low frequency undulations but i've noticed that all cars react to this a little (even my big bouncy volvo estate). In terms of camber chasing, weaving and general straight line stability the car is now the best it's ever been and on the german autobahns the car did big speeds effortlessly and felt completely planted and stable. I think the tyres have helped hugely here as well and are a marked improvement form the old and hard bridgestones that I was using before, both in stability and also general road manners and compliance.

Back to handling, the turn in is now more instant with no play, float or pendulous weight transfer and you can be so aggressive throwing it into bends or tempering your line mid bend if necessary. I think the solid subframe bushes have really tightened everything up at the back and she is now stable in yaw or direction change in a way that you'd more associate with a mid or front engined car. More than once I was caught out with a tightening radius bend, often downhill and off camber. The 993 responded beningly to a bit more lock and generally just did what it was told with no nasties up its sleeve.

Overall she has lost yet another layer of slop and attained a new level of connectedness and is all the more thrilling and satistying for it. Apart from the fact that you can now feel the engine vibrating through the seat at idle or when sitting at a stop, I couldn't really say that the car feels any harsher or less comfortable with the new mods. I was half expecting the monoballs to compromise the ride quality but I really don't think they have. In the time that my 93 was off the road I was driving the Cayenne a lot which is heavy, fairly hard and has a very stiff modern chassis. The 93 in comparison does not feel harsh at all. At low speed the suspension can be a little crashy and it doesn't like speed bumps at anything more than a few mph but overall the car has not been negatively affected in any way with the new round of mods. In fact in Switzerland, halfway through my trip I elected to stiffed my Bilsteins up a little and am now running them at 7 and 6 clicks front and rear.

I could gloat on and on but suffice to say that my car suspension journey is now very much complete and I have a new found respect for the abilities of the 993. Overall it's a balanced package with no major harshness and without being nervous or over-pointy but feeling very connected and alive at all times. I would say that I was a little shocked at just how competent the little 993 was point to point across europe. She took the black forest, the Swiss passes and the crazy Italian roads all in her stride, wet or dry or sizzling heat, and generally gave an amazing account of herself.

It will never be a 996 Gt3 RS of course. The chassis puts paid to that and you will never get the final delicacy, lightness of touch and accuracy of the water cooled car. The '93 will always feel a little heavy footed and stodgy by comparison, especailly shod with heavy speedlines and RS brakes, but of course it has the mechanical aircooled charm and soundtrack, and a set of control weights which are textural and resistive in a way that no water cooled car I've driven can compete with. From where my journey started 3 years ago I can now say that I am now pleased as punch; it's a very very different car to a standard 993 and very much where I always wanted it to be.

If being ultra picky, I would say that I still sometimes miss the very strong poundage of the old KW springs but obviously not any of the downsides that that combo entailed for me. I have considered ordering some alternative springs that are just a tad stiffer, maybe 10-15% or so and this is possibly the only thing I would experiemnt with in the future. If the car was a part trackday car then I would definitely be looking to stiffen the spring rates. The PSS10 are rated at around 220lb/inch, 380lb/inch F&R which is still very soft and certainly softer than a stock 993RS (245lb/456lb).Cars i've driven recently like the 997GT2 and the Nissan GTR have significantly stiffer springs I would say.

So there you have it. If you are going down the focused suspension route consider that the full package right down to the subframe bushes and monoballs is greater than the sum of the parts. Next year I may take a look at the engine and clutch/flywheel but for now its drive drive drive.



The Jackals Racetrack http://www.jackals-forge.com/lotus 1998 Richard Morris