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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I thought I'd provide some feedback on my suspension upgrade. Since this was an untested setup, I'll provide greater details and impressions further below which I hope will be helpful to those still undecided.

But if you don't care for details just look at the following summary, skip the rest and scroll down to the pics...



SUMMARY

Parts used
Eibach Pro-Kit 8566.140
Koni front 82-2488, rear 82-2465


Rear anti-roll bar 17mm 1BE version (replaced a couple of weeks prior):
bar 3B7-511-409
rubber bushings (2) 3B7-511-327

The Konis were set at:
front: 1 turn from full soft
rear: ½ turn from full soft

Final drop
front 1 3/8” rear 1 1/8”
wheel gap reduced to 1 3/4”

Driving impressions
ride remains surprisingly compliant, yet stiff enough to reduce body roll, squat and dive by a good margin.
Does not feel like a lowered/stiffer car, feels more like the way it should have been in the first place... “German touring quality” comes to mind.

Looks
very subjective, but I think it's good for 15” and probably 16” wheels. Those wanting 17” and higher and/or intent on driving aggressively most of the time will probably find this too mild of a drop and should look at coilovers.



DETAILS

Those who have a 1.8T 4Motion know that there are very limited choices to upgrade our suspension. At this time, other than coilovers there are still no official applications available in North America from the usual spring manufacturers. I wonder if any will materialize, especially for the wagon, given the limited run of this model before the new Passat platform arrives. And only Koni has shocks (still not listed on their website, but has been confirmed through email and phone call).

I upgraded my suspension to an Eibach Pro-kit and Koni adjustables a week ago, after 15,000km on the stock suspension. I knew I wanted to upgrade the suspension the first day I drove the car, but what delayed the upgrade was figuring out what springs I could use. Coilovers were not a consideration in my situation as I felt they would be too stiff, too low and too expensive.

Since the only company I could find that had springs for the 4cyl. 4Motion wagon was Eibach Europe, I concentrated on that, even if the particular European kit was not available in North America (NA). In Europe the 8565.140 kit for the 1.8T 4Mo wagon has the same rear springs as the NA 8566.140 kit for the V6 4Mo wagon; the kits have different front springs though, the V6 ones being a bit stiffer. But as it turns out, the front springs for the NA V6 are also used in Europe for the 1.8T FWD automatic, which has about the same front curb weight as my 1.8T 4Mo manual. So I figured the NA V6 4Mo kit should be ok.

The 8566.140 is specified to drop a V6 4Mo by 1.4” at front and 1.2” at rear. Since my 1.8T 4Mo manual is about 130kg less than the V6 but split evenly 65kg each front and rear, I figured the car would just sit a bit higher than the specified drop, but retain the front biased rake. One comment from CB5er PZ to ensure that the front would be lower was to use the stock front perch from the oem shocks, instead of the Koni supplied perch. As it turns out that wasn't necessary as you'll see later, but both my installer and I felt it wasn't worth the risk, as the oem perch is meant to rest on a lip molded into the oem shock (see picture) while the Koni perch expects to rest on a flat C-clip. It may work all right, but we didn't feel appropriate to risk it.


Another way to affect the rake would be to use a different position for the rear shock C-clip, which can be moved +/- 1cm from the position as shipped from the factory. So the height of the front perch stays the same but the rear can be moved up or down 1cm. I left it in the middle, as received from Koni.

The final results are:

Location............................Before......After........Drop

top of front wheel well......27 3/8”.....26”.........1 3/8”
top of rear wheel well.......27 1/8”.....26”.........1 1/8”
front gap............................3 1/8”......1 3/4”.....1 3/8”
rear gap.............................2 7/8”......1 3/4”.....1 1/8”

Stock, there was a slight 1/4” difference between front and back, now it is dead even all around.

The rake, as measured under the front and rear door frame at the location for the jack, is 7 1/2” rear and 6 3/4” front, so a 3/4” front biased rake.

Before I give my driving impressions, I should put them in perspective. This is my second Passat, my first was a 2000 FWD 1.8T wagon that I kept for 190,000km and on which I changed the suspension to H&R Sport springs and Koni adjustables at about 160,000km. So I've had plenty of experience with the oem setup, the behaviour and handling of the wagon, and the effect of the H&R springs and Koni shocks.

What I was after this time was a much tighter suspension than what the oem provided, but yet not quite as stiff as what the H&R gave me the last time. I read just about every posts on CB5 and Vortex about suspension and one comment that kept coming back is that Eibach is the closest of the aftermarket springs to the oem feel but without the body roll. I was a bit skeptical as it sounded too good to be true, but I have to say now that it is absolutely the case. The H&R, which has only a 1/4” more drop on the wagon compared to Eibach, feels much stiffer when driven on the same roads. I think this may have to do with the spring design, although both manufacturers state that their springs are progressive, Eibach feels and looks more linear. Since the oem springs are linear, there is less of a transition when moving to Eibach. H&R looked and definitely felt progressive.



I find the Eibach to be very civilized, allowing for a comfortable ride when traveling with the family but still up to the task for spirited driving. The H&R was stiffer which meant I could push the limits a little further, but at the expense of overall ride quality. Of course, this appreciation depends on what kind of ride you ultimately want, and the quality of the roads you normally drive on.

I used the setting for the shocks as recommended by the Koni rep, which is also similar to many CB5ers reported settings. If I had to do it over again, I would probably go for 1¼ turn up front, and at least ¾ or even 1 full turn at rear. Sometimes when going over bumps, I feel just a slight difference in rebound between front and rear (rear seems to rebound just a bit higher), so a stiffer rear setting should make it perfectly balanced.

I intend to keep my oem 15” alloy wheels and with them I think the drop is quite reasonable. Should look a bit better when I move to 215/60 tires later on. Those who want to switch their 4Mo wagon to 17”+ wheels may find the Eibach drop insufficient and probably will have to consider coilovers to keep a balanced look. Same idea if you intend to drive hard and/or are lucky enough to have mostly smooth roads.

So for looks and more importantly drivability, I am satisfied with my setup. The resulting road feel fits the Passat quite well, like it was meant to be that way. I am also glad to have gone with the V6 springs instead of trying to re-create the European 8565.140 kit, which has weaker front springs. I wouldn't want my front springs to be any weaker than they are now. Eibach could easily sell the NA 8566.140 kit as a 4Mo wagon kit, irrespective of engine.

A final point on the 1BE rear anti-roll bar: I installed it a few weeks ago while still on the oem suspension. The bar is 17mm vs the oem 14mm. To be honest, I didn't see much difference. Of course it helped, but certainly not to the point of being dramatically noticeable or inducing even mild oversteer. I felt a marginal reduction in body roll, allowing to take a curve a bit faster, but not that much (yes I still have the oem Michelins, so that is a limiting factor on its own). With the new suspension, the new bar has become part of the resulting ride and I am not about to remove it to see what it would be with the oem one... It's clear to me though that VW should have installed this 17mm bar by default, and made a 21mm 1BE as an option...





and for reference... fresh from the dealer, day one, before tint:



Related links for other comments and alternatives (beware some comments apply to sedans, not wagons):
http://www.clubb5.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=84265
http://www.clubb5.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=76594
http://www.clubb5.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=80507
http://www.clubb5.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=86273
http://www.clubb5.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=87077
http://www.clubb5.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=83896
 

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Nice writeup......I see you are a fellow Canadian....

I have the Eibach Prosystem on my 2002 1.8T sedan and I love the setup.
 

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Cool, did you source in Canada or did you import. If you bought in Canada, how much did it cost? TIA.
 

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Glad you did it. I am also sitting at about 26" to the fenders with my setup. The Konis were originally
designed to be used with the stock perch plates,the Koni perch plate was a later addition.
I found out about the extra drop by mistake and used the V6 springs to compensate.
 

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g2 said:
A final point on the 1BE rear anti-roll bar: I installed it a few weeks ago while still on the oem suspension. The bar is 17mm vs the oem 14mm. To be honest, I didn't see much difference. Of course it helped, but certainly not to the point of being dramatically noticeable or inducing even mild oversteer. I felt a marginal reduction in body roll, allowing to take a curve a bit faster, but not that much (yes I still have the oem Michelins, so that is a limiting factor on its own). With the new suspension, the new bar has become part of the resulting ride and I am not about to remove it to see what it would be with the oem one... It's clear to me though that VW should have installed this 17mm bar by default, and made a 21mm 1BE as an option...
I'm not sure you'll feel a difference until you've tried the car with the OEM rear sway bar and then the 1BE rear sway bar at the limits. My experience (I had the OEM rear sway bar on at Watkins Glen in May '03, then the 1BE rear sway bar at Lime Rock in June '03) is that the car is more balanced and is able to rotate better with less understeer. It's not a dramatic improvement (i.e., the car doesn't suddenly go from an understeering car to a perfectly neutral car), but I was able to manipulate the rotation better with the throttle (i.e., lift-oversteer) then when I had the OEM rear sway bar. As usual, YMMV, etc.

Andy
 

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g2, your car looks great and those Eibach's should settle in nicely. Were you able to obtain a solid 1BE spec alignment after the installation?

Andy, it looks like we may have to coax CPP to manufacture some rear components for the Passat 4 Motions.. :thumbup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Petra Passat said:
Cool, did you source in Canada or did you import. If you bought in Canada, how much did it cost? TIA.
The 1BE sway bar was bought at my VW dealer. The springs and shocks were mail ordered from QMR Motorsports in the Toronto area www.qmrmotorsports.com . I recommend them, competitive pricing, quick replies and great service.


Andy: I agree, it has to make a difference, it is just that I haven't been able yet to truly push it, partly because of the tires, partly because this 4Motion thing glues the car to the road to start with... needs to be pushed quite a bit to see the limits. I was able to control oversteer on my previous Passat with the throttle as you described, but at the same speed in the same curves with the 4Mo it is more stable to begin with. I'm gonna get there... Even in the rain I have a hard time breaking traction - and I don't even have good tires.

The Swami said:
Were you able to obtain a solid 1BE spec alignment after the installation?
The alignment is actually scheduled for tomorrow, and it will be at the dealer. At my usual local alignment shop they didn't have the specs for the 2004 4Mo, their database stopped at 2003... Rather than chance it, I'll go to the dealer, they assured me they have the specs and yes, I intend to ask for the 1BE tolerances.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hi RiverRipper,

the 4-wheel 1BE alignment went well, it corrected a couple minor problems following the upgrade.

I've got about 2500kms on it now, all I can add is that this V6 Pro-kit from Eibach fits the 1.8T very well - to the point where I would say that it may not be quite stiff enough for the heavier V6... I'm just back from a trip with 2 adults, 3 kids and luggage, so a bit heavier than a GLX with only the driver, and found that the suspension held up fine for a family drive but would be a little weak for a driver-only spirited drive.

I would also still go for a stiffer adjustment for the Konis, as stated above. I would like in particular to stiffen up the rear a little.

Note that this is all very subjective, the beauty (or curse?) of modifying your suspension is you get to learn more about your car, how it rides and also about you as a driver. You become more analytical and can determine over time what you prefer and what compromises you are most likely to be happy with.

If I had to put a number on my setup as it is now, I'd say I'm at 85% of what I want. Making the fine tuning to the Konis would bring me to probably 95%. To get to 100% would require slightly stiffer springs up front, and at back moderately stiffer srpings with a bit less travel. Still, I'm pretty happy with my investment and will leave it as is, as the stock suspension was only giving me 10% of what I wanted so this is a big improvement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hmm, pictures in the original post were on photohost.org which seems to be going through a rebuild. I moved them to photobucket, hope this will stick.

I should add, after 6 months with the setup, that it is now sitting at least 3/8" lower than on these pictures, so the gap is reduced.

I'm still happy with the results most of the time. There are times when I would like it a little more stiff spring-wise when driving aggressively, which is something hard not to do with a chip and with AWD that sticks to the road so much...
But for these few times I'd have to live with a suspension that would likely be too stiff for regular and even somewhat spirited driving, which for me is most of the times. Also to consider is my location, where road conditions and weather just don't lend themselves to a lower and stiffer ride.

So if I had to do it over, I'd still go with Eibach and Koni, but would crank up the Konis a bit more as there is a bit too much rebound for my taste in some specific situations.
 
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