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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there, found saabscene a couple of days ago when I started looking for info about upgrading the handling of my '01 9-3 Cab to match the performance. I've been used to RWD cars in the past and have been disappointed with the torque steer of the Saab. I am also missing the MG Midget I used to own and though I realise I will never be able to chuck the Saab round like I used to chuck the Midget I would like to be able to take the twisty roads with more confidence and less roll.

Thanks in part to the forum I have pretty much selected the MP VRK from Elk (I emailed them and they hope to have the kit available again in a couple of weeks when the glue problem is resolved) and will probably get a shocks and springs kit at some point also (probably Koni's as I like the idea of being able to tweak them to suit me). I am not looking for a track day superstar, just a more capable car for normal-to-spirited road use.


I still have a couple of questions that I hope you can help with:

Are there any other "must fit" suspension or steering components that I should consider?

What order should I add the components (I'd probably add the shocks and springs at the same time)?

Cheers
Neil
 

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Welcome to Saabscene!!

You seem to be looking in the right areas. I don't have a 9-3, but there are similarities with other models in the range. You could look at uprating the brakes to keep the speed on longer. Some people have just started fitting a stiffer rear anti-roll bar with good reported results.
 

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The VRK is probably the best thing to do starting out. It will fix torque steer, make the steering feel more precise and help reduce/eliminate squirm and wandering when heavy on the brakes. If you get the VRK, poly bushes for the front suspension go further in improving the above mentioned characteristics.

For the money, a rear sway bar upgrade is a great purchase. It will reduce the body roll, and give the car a much more neutral cornering balance. The car will still ultimately understeer but occasional back out antics can be done under certain situations.

If you go for springs and shock, at least install them at the same time to save on installation costs. There are few combos out there and they seem to work quite well for those that have done it. Some choices are H&R springs, Koni adjustable shocks, Eibach springs, and when included with the Eibach dampers it is the Eibach Pro Kit. There are Bilstein Sport shocks available as well.

And, as sgould said, upgrading the brakes is always a good idea before going for the big power mods. The only real must do on the brakes though, is a swap to a better pad on the fronts. There are many to choose from here as well. I found that my setup of brembo replacement rotors, slotted by KVR Performance combined with Hawk HPS pads and stock rear brakes works pretty good.
 

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I upgraded the ECU on my 93 lpt conv (Abbott), and had the Abbott VRK fitted at the same time (I got a good price as I was having a service too). This certainle reduced torque steer, but as as I said in a post a few weeks ago I have now eliminated the torque steer almost completely! How? Failed MOT required my front Dunlops (euhh!) to be replced and I went for the best that was in stock at the time; Continental Premium Contacts (15"). It really is now almost impossible to get it to torque-steer at all. I'm totally gob-smacked, tyres/torque-steer is not something that seems to be considered normally. Of course, what I don't know is whether the Dunlops were really [expletive deleted], or the Conti's are really good. Perhaps other members have some views?

Anyway, I'd go for the VRK as it certainly helps, and improves steering response greatly too.

Bob.
 

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Originally posted by TractorBoy:
[qb] Of course, what I don't know is whether the Dunlops were really [expletive deleted], or the Conti's are really good.  Perhaps other members have some views? [/qb][/b]
Perhaps the steering rack movement before the VRK bracket was fitted allowed the tyres to wear oddly?
 

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Well, simply putting on stickier tires will help reduce the tire spin and torque steer. When it is harder for the power to break the grip and therefore spin the tires, torque steer will be reduced.
 

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John/ has Eibach springs and dampers on his car and they give a very good ride/handling balance.

His car was all over the place before he changed the suspension - I thought handling was terrible and it seemed to wonder on dual carriageways. I think you will be amazed at the difference it makes, even though your car in less rigid. If you are on a budget, I'd sort the dampers/shocks out first as I can't believe any other mods would make quite so much difference.
 

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In an attempt to improve handling, I fitted Hirsch Performance springs and tried it with stock shocks. The NG900 felt a lot better, but the ride was a little bouncy. The shocks weren't capable of controlling the springs.
After fitting Koni's the car was much better, more balanced, especially at high speed.
The rear antiroll bar was replaced by a bigger bar from MP Performance. It reduces bodyroll and there's a bit more grip when accelerating out of a corner. Grip is supplied by Dunlop SP9000. I'm very pleased with these tyres, I can't imagine they're causing torquesteer on my car.
Next upgrade will be a VRK. Drove a Viggen which had the VRK last week and I'm impressed. I've never felt the need for a VRK, but now I can't wait for the improved MP kit.
 

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I also have the Dunlop SP Sport 9000 tyres on my C900 and have significantly less torque steer than on the previous 'budget' tyres that the car came with. Very impressed with the grip, particularly in the wet.
 

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Well, simply putting on stickier tires will help reduce the tire spin and torque steer. When it is harder for the power to break the grip and therefore spin the tires, torque steer will be reduced.[/b]
Agree Eric: My 9000 w/stage 4 (MapTun) had prodigious amounts of torque steer in spite of poly' in the rear of the control arms and the steering rack, and Bilsteins at all four corners. However, the tires were the stock touring version Michelins. With Firehawk SZ-50's, the difference is like night and day - they have essentially the same tread compound as the S-03 Bridgestones.

In regards to brakes: I still have the stock rotors, but use Ferodo DS2500 pads. These are brilliant and unlike the stock pads, are more than sufficient for road use. Again, like torque-steer, braking performance has as much to do with the tires as pads and rotors. The combination of Ferodo's and Firehawks, for me, is an ideal one, so far.
 

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Originally posted by robert lavergne:
[qb]
                     
Again, like torque-steer, braking performance has as much to do with the tires as pads and rotors. [/qb]
I agree, tyres are a major factor in most dynamic situations.

I used to have a C900T16S, which came with Yokohama AVS on the front, and Goodyears on the back. I thought I had a brake problem as the rears would lock-up under heavy braking in the dry (non-ABS car). When I swapped the tyres front to rear, I found the fronts would then lock but not the rears. A new pair of Yokohamas solved my 'brake problem'
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Excellent, thanks one and all.

So I'm not sure exactly what order to do these in as I have had contrasting views. But I guess that says it doesn't really matter a great deal. I think now that I will go for VRK + rear ARB in one pass, and all round shocks and springs in another. I'd like to go for the Eibach springs as the "progressive" characteristsics sound good as most of my driving is taking the family places. I'd also like to use Koni variable shocks for the same reason. But the Koni-Eibach Shocks-SPrings combination is significantly more expensive that either Eibach-Eibach or Koni-Koni!

Perhaps I'll convince myself that the money I save by buying MP VRK rather than Abbott could be spent on the suspension. :)

Cheers
Neil
 

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Neil,
I have a 2002 9-3 Aero coupe, not quiet the same handling characteristics as your cabrio, but the following details what mods I've made to mine, and my opinion as to what effect they have.
Firstly I got the Abbott VRK and ECU upgrade done at the same time. The ECU upgrade gave me lots more power (about 40 BHP), but the VRK made a dramatic reduction to the Torque steer (even with the extra power), also reduced the amount of tram lining on uneven surfaces like the inside lane on motorways where all the lorries run.
Ran with this setup for about a year, before the lack of traction in the wet (even with traction control) finally made me change my tyres, even although I still had 6mm of tred left on the original set. Changed the original Pirelli P6000 (absolutely diabolical in the wet), for a set of Bridgestone S03 Pole Position's. These are a fantastic tyre, and I had them on my previous car. The effect of the new tyres was to all but stop the tran lining, and to reduce the Torque steer even more - in my opinion, directional tyres are better at reducing tramlining than asymetrical ones, and the extra grip from the bridgestones (both in the wet and the dry) reduces wheel spin and thus reduces torque steer.
Just last weekend, I had 'Black Diamond' grooved brake discs and 'Predator' Fast Road pads fitted all round, as well as Abbotts uprated rear anti-roll bar. The brakes are fantastic, and feel like I've got at least 50% more stopping power, even when cold. At only £300 for the discs and pads, it seems like a bargain to me - nothing to do with being scottish . The rear ARB has tightened up the back end superbly, with the effect of eliminating the rear end "squirm" I occasionally experienced when braking hard when not in a straight line i.e. braking hard in the middle of a slight bend, when a much sharper one appears very quickly
. Has also made the car feel much more stable on fast corners on dual carriageways etc.
In a month or so, I'm going to have Eibach springs and Koni adjustable shock absorbers fitted, just for a bit of extra
. Had the Koni's on my last car (1996 900 Turbo coupe), along with Abbott springs, and found this setup to be superb. I like being able to stiffen up the shocks before going for a blast at the weekend, and then soften them up for running around town during the week. Even when set on "soft", they're still stiffer than the standard Saab ones, so you can still have fun on roundabouts around town . Only takes about 5 minutes to adjust all 4, and very straight forward. I'm going for the Eibach springs this time, purely because they're cheaper than the Abbott ones. Have read loads of good reports on them, and it's even rumoured that they are made by the same manufacturer! will let you all know how I get on with them in a month or so.
In my opinion Neil, because you have a Cabrio, that isn't quite so stiff as a hard top, I would go for the Rear ARB and the VRK first, assuming the the MP kit comes with the front Sub Frame Brace, the same as the Abbott one does, as this definately makes the car feel tighter at the front. After that, it's a matter of personal choice - Springs and shocks so that you can corner faster, brakes so you can stop quicker, or ECU upgrade so you can upset BMW drivers .
Hope this helps you out, let us know how you get on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks Neil,

The MP VRK is only the steering rack clamp and brace - though the sub frame brace is available.

You'll probably get your Konis and Eibachs on before me so please let me know how it is.

Neil
 

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Will do Neil, but will be at least a month, as the shock absorbers are on a month back order from Koni. They don't officially make them for the Aero, as it's a heavier car than the standard, but Abbott get a special batch made every now and again.
 

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Originally posted by TractorBoy:
[qb] what I don't know is whether the Dunlop's were really [expletive deleted], or the Conti's are really good. Bob. [/qb][/b]
Hmm I think it's a bit of both, I had Dunlop's all around on my last (Don't boot me off for this but it was a Rover 400 saloon SLDI
) car. It might of been because of it being heavier than the titanic (I think that was when the engine was designed as well ) but it slid everywhere in the wet! Although entertaining, it scared the living s*** out of me.
 

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My Mum had a 9-3 2.0T convertible until recently and she (OK, this was actually down to my Dad
) went for the Abbott rack clamp and bushes, but not the full VRK, all fitted at the same time as a +40bhp ECU upgrade. The old man had a long chat with Giles & Ed about what suspension bits to go for and they convinced him [
not what you usually expect to hear about ARM ] that the rose joints and cross brace in the full VRK were really just icing on the cake and not essential.

That suggests that the MP clamp plus some poly would do the job just as well. The difference to the car was just amazing, even on standard springs & dampers - he decided that a wobbly car isn't best suited to a stiffer set-up, and I tend to agree, unless you add seriously extra
.
 

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I would suggest strut tower braces along with other things that have been mentioned. Another thing is that I bought my car (MY96 9K CS LPT (175hp ain't that bad)) with Dunlop SP sport A2's on it, took some 90 degre turns , on my stock suspension, @ 75MPH
, loved the grip (didn't even squeel) and put a fresh set of the same tires on. I think dunlop makes a decent sport tire even with out an overly agressive tread pattern.
 
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