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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
...before you all start I know that I could spend thousands on mods, but like (I guess) most people I have a budget to stick to - £1200.

I have a stock 99 9-3 LPT auto whose handling leaves a lot to be desired. I'm happy with the ride - there are lots of bumps and humps on my local roads and I don't fancy crashing and thumping over them. I have 15" wheels which I plan to stick with for similar reasons.

Having read lots of posts I'm convinced that the general direction I should take is Abbott for handling and Speedparts for ECU.

So here's my starter for ten:

Speedparts ECU stage 2 & dump valve - ECU looks good value and I see the logic that more boost in the system needs a larger exhaust (stage 1 without exhaust sounds a bit risky) and the OEM dump valve is not up to the job.

Abbott (this is where it gets more tricky) - steering rack clamp to help torque steer (and based on a comment in another post from an Abbott employee who reckons this is the most cost effective mod) & rear sway bar (the rear seems to move out sooner than the front on current set-up).
But what about the VRK alone? (which doesn't include any consideration for the rear of the car)

Comments welcome
 

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Well Penport,

Looks like you've done your research!.. you've started at a good point and probably a good place to start as any.

As regards the VRK.. I personally see no need for the thicker rear anti-roll bar once the VRK is fitted.

The VRK (Remember we're talking about a front wheel drive car here) will tame the torque-steer you're going to introduce with the power-mod, and allow for more accurate and feelsome steering.

When you get more cash together, have the springs and dampers changed too (this doesn't necessarily translate to bad ride comfort) which will allow you to put that power to good use in corners.

And at that point you'll have yourself a nice respectably quick car, which can even safely hold it's own when it gets twisty.
 

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I agree - especially as you say the rear seems to get out earlier than the front. A thicker rear bar is a very nice 'advanced' tool for cutting back on understeer and making the rear end more 'adjustable' after you adressed the real deficiencies in the car's behaviour (torque steer, body lean and wallow, general imprecision of steering/handling in the 9-3's case) - I'd start with the VRK, see what the overall balance is then, then you can add the oversize rear bar for that track-inspired 205 GTI feel if you're comfortable with that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
funny you should mention 205 GTi feel - I loved my 1.9 205 GTi - handling was awesome, but the ride was so hard it drove me nuts (and my kids!)
 

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Penport,

I find it curious that you say the rear end steps out before the front. I and most others have just the opposite happen. When my car was still stock, the front end would lose grip way before the back. The only way I can get oversteer is to be running pretty quick in a curve near the limit and chop the throttle. This will send the rear end out a bit until it gets traction again. The larger rear sway bar will give a more neutral feel to the cornering but the car still oversteers at the limit. If you are getting the rear end out it is more a problem with the stock springs and dampers not being up to par with your chosen cornering loads and the car starts to wallow around. Then to make things worse, when you start to lift the gas to slow down the rear will want to step out and try to pass you!

By no means am I telling you that you are driving wrong, I am just speaking from experience. The larger rear bar will help a little with feel but until you get higher rate springs and dampers to match, you will still have the wallowy feeling.

I too, stayed with 15 inchers for the same reason. I did however go a different route and have not spent the larger amount of money that the VRK costs. I got a SAS rear sway bar, Koni adjustables and H&R springs.

Anyways, I thought I'd tell you my experiences with the suspension.

Have fun!

Eric Burr
1999 9-3
 

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Don't know if this is any use in helping you spend your money, but Abbott are advertising (in Driver) their spring sets reduced to £199 from £293 (inc VAT) until Feb 14.

As for Speedparts: I put their Stage 1 on my 9000 and remain very pleased with it (look under 'projects' on STTE ). If you have the budget I agree it would seem foolish not to get the exhaust at the same time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for all your responses - I'll go with Speedparts stage 2 and VRK, with springs & dampers when finances allow.
BTW the rear end steeping out is actually the rear sliding - I went out and did some testing this lunchtime (after the frost had gone) and the car behaves exactly as described in this thread, but slides on greasy surfaces (and no I don't drive like a lunatic - far from it!)
 

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Honestly, if your car is sliding the rear end, which is the same as me saying it is stepping out, you have some kind of problem. You are the first person I have ever heard report this kind of handling in a 9-3 or GM900. If it is only doing so over greasy surfaces, there is nothing you can do about it. If it is doing it on dry surfaces, you have a problem. Do you carry a bunch of stuff in the hatch all of the time? If you have lots of weight out back it could affect the handling this way also.

Eric Burr
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
It's definitely only on wet surfaces - I didn't notice any sliding today (dry) when I was pushing it quite hard round a roundabout, but yesterday (wet) it slid round the same roundabout at about 2/3rds the speed. I swapped my tyres front to rear recently so I have more tread on the front now - could this be more relevant ?
 

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I swapped my tyres front to rear recently so I have more tread on the front now - could this be more relevant ?  [/b]
Yes, it could be relevant. IIRC current thinking is to put new tyres (or the ones with more tread) on the rear to prevent rear breaking away.
 

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And check tyre pressures too!.. also have suspension alignment check done to make sure all is well.. also have a look at the tread wear on the inside of the rear tyres, to make sure they are wearing evenly
 

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I am thinking along similar lines to Penport on my 94 900ST - using a Speedparts Stage 1 and the VRK. Having replaced two sections of my exhaust recently and before finding this site I was not going to upgrade the exhaust at this stage. Does this cause problems with the ECU upgrade or does it just mean i might not be getting out as much performance as i might if i upgrade the exhaust as well.

Thanks
Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I've revised my thinking after reading many posts both here and elsewhere and have decided to go for springs and dampers before the VRK. I hope it wil give the car more "chuckability" which is what I really want.
As for the exhaust - if you're upgrading the ECU surely it's safest to make sure the engine breathes as best as possible with a sports air filter and exhaust ? I'd hate to do something that reduces the life of my engine.
 

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Originally posted by Penport:
[qb]As for the exhaust - if you're upgrading the ECU surely it's safest to make sure the engine breathes as best as possible with a sports air filter and exhaust ?[/qb][/b]
I followed this line of thinking as I planned the upgrades to my 9000 Aero. Power-wise, the exhaust and intake came first. Only then did I upgrade the ECU. Then again, the ECU I went for was intended to be used with the 3" exhaust. I can imagine a benefit even with mild ECU upgrades, though. Exhaust gas temperatures are your enemy when upgrading a turbocharged engine.

When upgrading the exhaust, remember that the greatest benefit is to be seen in the downpipe and cat. If you are considering only partly upgrading the exhaust system, do the downpipe as the first priority, then the cat, then the rest. The exhaust gasses are hottest up front and that is where they need the greatest pipe volume to expand into.
 
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