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New Product Evaluation: H&R Adj. Street/Sport Suspension available through MRT
Kenny Brown Puts H & R Adj. Street/Sport Suspension from MRT to the Test at Autobahn Track for '05 Mustang
I was anxious to see and test the new H&R adjustable suspension package for the ‘05 Mustangs that Scott from MRT was telling me about. It sounded pretty interesting. The kit is complete as it includes front struts, rear shocks and springs and even the adjuster wrenches for the spring perches. What's really cool about it is the spring height is adjustable. The front strut is a basic threaded body and the rear had adjustable lower spring perches. For anybody who wants to get serious about track driving, or adjust your ride height to co-exist with speed bumps and curbs, a fully adjustable coil-over set-up is a huge bonus. You can adjust your ride height low down for the track, up for the street, make it even all around or put a little rake in the back. The H&R system gives you lots of options and the key word is adjustability -- with just a turn of a nut, so to speak. (See Tech Tip on “How Low Should You Go”.)
For the advanced driver adjustable coil over struts gives you the option to “scale” and balance your car. This is simply means putting the car on four scales to get the weight at each corner. Once you know your corner weights you can work at moving the weight around by adjusting some springs up and some down. The goal is to balance the weight to all four tires (corners) as close as possible left to right. If you have ever seen a car smoking a single tire as it brakes into a turn, you can probably guess that it's the lightest corner. We didn't have time to scale the car for the Autobahn test, but we made very good use of the ease of adjustability of the package once we were at the track.
As far as the quality of the H&R suspension kit, it looks top-notch and was designed as a direct replacement to the OE pieces so installation was a snap. The only thing I was disappointed with was there was no information on spring rates or shock dampening. Now for most people that's a non-issue, but for me its important piece of data because I use spring rates and shock dampening to “tune” the suspension after I fix the geometry. Not a problem for this weekend as we did not have enough time for me to make the geometry changes I wanted either, and besides this would be a good test to see how the H&R system worked straight out of the box.
Buckle-up, helmet on and away we go. My first impression was quite good driving though the paddock, nothing harsh or brash about it; in fact, it seemed fairly civilized. Once again on my warm-up laps it felt pretty good. In fact, very good, but it still needed a little tweaking for me to pick up the pace. As the day progressed we took tire temps and then adjusted ride height (which was very easy with this kit) and the alignment to tune the car for the track. The car responded well and felt little better and quicker with each adjustment.
Fortunately I had my trusty S197 suspension geometry notebook with me and its chuck full of my theoretical computer generated suspension geometries. We took a couple of quick point measurements and I used them to peruse my data collection until I found a series that was a close match to where we were. When I did, it gave me some good information. We had been playing with different ride heights (did I tell you how easy it is to adjust yet?) and found some were better than others. I discovered in my notes for the short tires on the car -- anything under 26.3” ride height in the front and the geometry did some very quirky things. (See the “Slick Trick” for measuring ride height.) What was interesting is what I saw in the graphs validated what I felt in the car on the track so we left it at a ride height of 26.3” and life was good.
We kept tweaking and I kept going a little faster but quickly we ran into the law of diminishing returns. I could comfortably drive the car pretty quick now in groups 2 and 3, but (for me) there wasn't enough spring rate or shock dampening to drive it really fast with the group 1 guys. But that's OK, this was only a test and I wasn't physically really up to speed anyway. Besides this is a Street/Sport suspension not a full-on track suspension.
In the end I came away pretty impressed with the H&R Adjustable Coil-over Suspension package. I think this adjustable suspension kit is not only a good option, but a good value for someone looking for a street/sport feel that only does a few track events a year. It's well worth the fast-track compromise for the other 361 days of the year it is used on the street. The struts and shocks are gas but without the ability to be adjusted. This can be good news or bad news depending on – if you are experienced in track tuning shocks, you can improve your performance and adapt the car for specific tracks with adjustable shocks - that's good. But if you don't know much about tuning shocks or get some “expert” information from a chat room on the internet or “slept at a Holiday Inn Express last night”, you stand a pretty good chance of shock tuning yourself right into the fence – that's bad. Novice and intermediate drivers should be focusing on their driving not shock tuning.
If you are a quick intermediate or advanced driver, you may find this package a little soft on the rate, roll and dampening control you need to go really fast. So put it on your street car instead and you'll love it.