WRX Suspension tips
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Author:  sleepingbag [ Wed Jul 28, 2004 2:17 pm ]
Post subject:  WRX Suspension tips

Some of this is sort of trying to sell you on their products, but the overall advice is pretty good.

Handling: Suspension, Brakes & Tires written by Ken Cole. He is the owner of RallyPerformance, an aftermarket parts supplier for the Impreza. He has been involved with SCCA Autocross, Rallycross and performance Rally since the early 90s.

The WRX handles quite nicely out of the box, but if you are going to autocross or rallycross the car, go to a track day, or just want to enjoy the car more on a really twisty road, you will want to look at handling upgrades.

FOERST, check out your alignment. I can't emphasize this enough! While the car may be "within specification," that may mean a variance of quite a bit when you really analyze it. If you take it to your dealer, specify that you would like to have the suspension set up to very close tolerances. We like to recommend that people try a little bit of negative camber in the front, up to one degree. A touch of toe-in, perhaps one millimeter on each front corner will help to lessen tire wear from the negative camber. I personally run with two millimeters of negative in the back. We do NOT recommend toe-out in the rear. Use your own discretion (it is not our liability if you choose to set the car outside factory specifications).

Second, tires make a ton of difference. If you feel that you would like to upgrade your handling, you may wish to go with an aftermarket tire that suits your taste.

Third, before you spend more money, upgrade yourself. Spend time reading about driving techniques (check out Driving Tips) and contemplate the fact that even in its current form the car almost certainly has more capabilities than you have. Don't take offense to this, but realize that there are drivers out there who have enough knowledge to employ the car on track (as it currently sits) more effectively than you do and take that as an encouragement to modify the driver (you). You may find that money spent on a driver's school is the best money you've ever spent on the cars handling' and you'll have more fun. For one of the best rally schools in the US, check out, and tell them we sent you!

Fourth, consider further modifications. We carry the Leda coilover suspension for the Impreza. Because it was developed in a joint effort between ScoobySport and Leda, it is specifically tuned to the car, and is not just a manufacturers "best guess" at what would work. As a result, it is quite effective and uses the stock suspension components including the factory sway bar. In fact, we prefer the factory sway bar over aftermarket, because the Ledas take care of enhancing turn-in beautifully, and the factory bar allows the AWD system to work to its fullest in all wheel drifts. While a coilover system is not inexpensive, the results are superb. On track, handling becomes a simple affair: turn-in, and the car does. Add throttle mid-corner, and the car drifts outward in a four wheel drift; lift throttle and it tucks back in. Definitely the ultimate addition, with the Leda kit you don't need any other parts. [I agree with the coilover statement, though the aftermarket sways definitely made mine 100x better-- then again I didn't have the leda's]

While they are much maligned, the stock North American WRX brakes are adequate until you are driving aggressively, or in the mountains, or on track, in which case you will absolutely want more fade resistance and better stopping power.It is remarkable how much a simple upgrade such as stainless steel lines, fluid, and upgraded pads can make a difference in performance. Still, to stop significantly shorter, you"ll need to choose an upgrade. For a good street upgrade, consider UK specification brakes for the front of the car, which are a four piston setup rather than a two piston setup (stock). We offer a number of brake upgrades, for instance, so that our customers can choose how much performance increase they would like. Beware when buying brakes not to just buy the cheapest available. There are "big brake" kits out there on the market that are cheaper than others, but how long will they last? Or until the rotors warp? We have focused on our kits to have a low return rate, and find that going with quality componentry does drive the cost of the kits up; but the quality is worth it in this area of the car.

Remember a few things about brake upgrades and handling upgrades that make them important: They also double as horsepower in every case except a pure drag race. How so? Every foot that you can brake later than an opponent on the track or autocross course is a foot that they must make up on you elsewhere. Every mile per hour that you can carry through a corner because of your superior handling is also a mile per hour your opponent must make up in acceleration. As proof, our WRX Hunter package uses a setup proven in the UK that beats the STi7 nicely on track ... even though the WRX in this case is still at a slight power disadvantage. Perhaps the greatest thing about brakes and handling is that the "horsepower" they provide has absolutely no adverse effects on reliability!

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