Suspension and lowering… should I???
Another modification commonly considered by S2000 owners is modifying the suspension for looks and/or handling purposes. There are a number of options available, ranging from a $200 set of lowering springs to $8000 full custom coilover sets.
There are many reasons to modify the stock setup. Some folks are just looking for a lower more aggressive look. Some think the stock ride is too stiff, while some think it’s not stiff enough. Some drivers want to maximize their handling, while some just want a little extra grip. The stock suspension on the S2000 is an extremely well designed system for our car, and many modifications will actually cause the car’s performance to decrease. If you know exactly what you want before you spend your hard earned money, you’re much more likely to chose the right setup for your kind of driving, or decide that the stock is good enough after all. We thought we’d give you a little primer about various suspension modifications, their uses, and the good and bad of each.
Springs are the lowest cost suspension mod you can do, and can significantly alter the look and handling of your S2k. If what you’re looking for is to have your car sit lower to the ground for the “bling” effect, springs are the most cost-effective way to do it. There’s a trade-off here. The stock suspension was engineered specifically for the stock spring height. When you put in shorter springs, you mess up the geometric design of the system. Frankly, the car will not handle as well. (No matter what self professed “experts” might say.) Lowering springs alone are for looks only. Not only will they not improve the handling of your S2000, but they will actually diminish it.
Some replace the stock springs with same height aftermarket choices to either stiffen or soften up their ride. As long as the height is the same, the geometry will be fine. Keep in mind that the stock shocks were valved to match the stock spring rate. While stiffer of softer springs will have a similar effect on your ride, they will not give you the optimal symentry with the factory shock absorbers. There are a number of excellent spring manufacturers to consider here including Eibach, HKS, Espelier, Takata, and Tanabe.
Springs with shocks:
This is a better option if you want to lower your car but don’t want to screw up the handling or if you want to change the spring rate and have a shock that’s set up to match. There are a number of options here, but the most important thing to consider is the importance of matching the spring height/rate to the design/setup of the shock. An improperly matched set will actually make things worse than the stock shocks with aftermarket springs. Some popular choices here are Koni yellows, Ohlins, Penskes, Jic, and Bilstein PSS . While a good matched set will allow you to lower your car without messing with the handling, most don’t provide a significant performance benefit over stock. (Although they are often adjustable and might allow for a more comfortable ride)
The only way to significantly improve the handling of an S2000 is with a full coilover setup. Most coilovers have multiple adjustments available for compression and rebound and some even include separate adjustments for high and low speed compression. There are a huge range of coilovers starting with relatively inexpensive offerings (under $1500) from Tein and Buddy Club (that often provide little or no benefit over stock) to mid-priced systems ($1500-$3000) from Tein and KW, (At under $2k discounted, the Variant 3 setup is quite possibly the most bang for the buck suspension available for the S2000) up to megabuck ($4-8k+) double and triple adjustable setups from JRZ, Penske, Ohlins, and Moton. A good set of coilovers makes a huge difference keeping the car planted in hard cornering, and is almost a necessity when driving hard using r-compound tires. While the stock suspension is capable of taking the car right up to its limits on street tires, a set of r-comps will definitely allow you to push the stock suspension well past its limitations.
Before you start to spend money on suspension modifications, first decide what exactly you want to achieve. Is your goal looks, performance, or comfort??? Before you spend any money, make sure you know what you want or you might make a very expensive mistake.
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