||02-04-2012 09:23 PM
KW Variant 3 review on 2012 LGT
I have now driven about 1000kms on my newly installed KW Variant 3's in my 2012 LGT. Prior to this I had clocked about 35,000kms in a 2010 LGT and 5600kms in a 2012 on the OE suspension. I could no longer take the unbelievably poor OE suspension handling and ride characteristics.
Here it goes:
Why KW V3's: There are no other strut/spring combinations available at this time. My car is my daily driver, it may see an autocross or two but truthfully it is the family hauler. After a tremendous amount of research V3's were a worthwhile consideration. The fact they are very adjustable and more importantly stainless sealed deal, although admittedly, completely overkill for my application.
Purchase and Installation: I purchased and had the V3's installed locally at VEX Performance, fair price and excellent service. I had the coilovers setup at the maximum ride height recommended from KW, I also had them set at KW's recommended compression and rebound settings. The net drop ended up being about 1.25 inches all around; as low as I will go in this climate. Alignment was done as close to OE specs with just a little more camber all the way around.
First drive: Stiff, really stiff. Body roll, dive and squatting are all but completely eliminated. On the drive home it became pretty clear these compression and rebound settings were not going to work for daily driving duties. I had some snow covered and otherwise sketchy road conditions on my way home, the car had the strong tendency to understeer even when being driven at a 'normal' speed. This would also have to be addressed as we typically have snow on the ground for 5 months a year; I run winters tires from November to May.
Fine tuning: KW's recommended settings are compression 0.75 turns front and rear from full stiff. The rears are the sweep style adjustment and the fronts are the click style with 6 clicks per full rotation. Rebound is 6 clicks front and 7 clicks rear from full stiff. With the winter tires (225/50R17 Hankook Icept Evo - great tire BTW) I have the compression set at 1.6 turns (10 clicks) front , and 1.25 turns rear with rebound at 12 clicks from full hard front and rear. In my opinion this provides a very compliant yet firm daily driver setup with just a slight tendency to oversteer when pushed. When the summer wheels and tires goe on in the spring I am sure this will change. I was truly amazed at the range of adjustment and the difference between one click to the next. I was able to adjust all but rear compression with the car on the ground. I am sure I could adjust the rear compression with the rear end jacked up with the wheels on, but it was just easier to take the wheels off.
Overall impressions: The V3's have completely transformed this car. Turn in is much more precise, the waffling of the OE suspension is obviously gone and highway stability is as good as any other car I have driven; no more wandering which was really bad before. The car is now planted with minimal, and I mean minimal body roll, dive and squatting even at my 'soft' daily driving setting. More importantly it is totally wife approved.
NVH is increased ever so slightly in the steering wheel and the car but nothing like vibration/shimmy issue felt in the problem cars (I had one...). My 2012 did display ever so slightly the well documented vibration/shimmy issue my 2010 had, I can confidently say there is no shake at all with the coilovers; any hint of the 'shakes' has been completely eliminated.
To compare the 'feel' of the car to others cars would be difficult. If an M5 is a 10/10 I would say the KW V3 LGT is now a solid 8/10, where as before it was maybe a 4/10. Bottom line is this is a massive improvement over stock and really makes this car a sport sedan contender.