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killerniceguy 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.

dew2far 02-04-2012 10:29 PM

Great review, thanks! Was your drop really 1.25? I only ask because on various sites (like Tire Rack) it lists the drop starting at .8

Again, great review.

killerniceguy 02-04-2012 10:34 PM

My rough measurement says 1.25, it could be slightly less. To be honest the drop was my biggest fear in getting these. After driving it on all the same roads with the same speed bumps as before you won't even notice it. As has been mentioned on this forum in other posts the stock suspension is so soft just adding a coffee would drop the car. I exaggerate but you get the idea.

When I sit in the car now it moves mm's, with OE it would move an inch.

Blizzard 02-06-2012 07:38 AM

Great review!

DeltaSniper 02-06-2012 09:57 AM

You can just adjust the height to your liking?

13FLGT 02-06-2012 10:14 AM

awesome review! been going back in forth on Coilovers and I am pulling the trigger this friday. I have the money so why not. Thanks for the help brother!

killerniceguy 02-06-2012 11:39 AM


Originally Posted by DeltaSniper (Post 3738899)
You can just adjust the height to your liking?

You can, but it does require removing the struts to do it right. It would also require an alignment each time. I anticipate I will never adjust the ride height. Way too much effort for a daily driver.

Rutchard 02-06-2012 11:57 AM

You shouldn't have to remove the struts to adjust the height. Heck, I've made adjustments without removing the wheels before...

DeltaSniper 02-06-2012 12:08 PM

Well the alignment part is right, but I don't remove my struts when I adjust the height or dampening.

As for the alignment, the roads here in Toronto throw my alignment off so fast I need to get an alignment twice a year anyway... lol...

This year I will raise the car for winter and lower it for summer seeing how fast my alignment goes bad. (4 Months after alignment, car was pulling to the left with the rear having 2 degrees of toe out and toe in after being nearly zeroed 4 months earlier)

Wheels were \ \ instead of l l

killerniceguy 10-06-2012 09:37 PM

Update - with 28,000kms now on the KW V3's the winter rebound and compression setting are the way to go for daily driving duties regardless of season. I ran them harder for most of the summer and although the car felt better when pushed it was just a little too harsh. I brought them back to winter setting last week in anticipation of the winter wheels going on and found the ride much better.

For those of you installing cilovers of any type I would wait at least 2000kms of driving before trying to figure out what setting is best. It takes a while for them to break in, mine are totally different from when they went on - much better too.

ATeamGT 10-08-2012 10:13 AM

This is a great post... thanks for the follow up message too.

Blizzard 10-08-2012 11:26 AM

Yeah I am thinking about using your winter settings for when I put mine in.

Blizzard 10-16-2012 06:43 AM

Sent you a PM regarding settings questions.

shribob 10-16-2012 09:03 AM

Is the height adjustable on this setup? 1.25" is a bit low in the tri-state area.

Blizzard 10-16-2012 09:26 AM


Originally Posted by shribob (Post 4116608)
Is the height adjustable on this setup? 1.25" is a bit low in the tri-state area.

Yes I just adjusted mine last night.

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