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New suspension, finally

Avendit

Member
Apr 18, 2019
765
495
EDI
Many moons ago now @U_S_D got in touch to say he was selling his car, and separately his full suspension kit that he'd had on it. Going back in my history I've had some complaints about the Americanisms of the 3's suspension setup, so after thinking for a bit, picked up the set from him on an exceptionally good deal (cheers btw!).

The kit, while extremely serious, matched my ambitions of sorting the car while not slamming it for track days:
  1. MPP comfort coilovers
  2. MPP rear camber and toe arms
  3. Front and rear Eibach anti roll bar's
Its basically a no-compromise 'as it should have been' setup for a P.

After much hunting in the Edinburgh area (my old tuners have all given up and 'just do MOTs and servicing now') I found RD Motorsport and spoke to Rob. Found he had done a couple of spring kits for model 3's and he sounded like he knew what he was doing. I was absolutely in for a treat.

He is mainly a BMW guy, but also deals with Audi's and (presumably) other VAG stuff. There were 4 beautiful, tricked out, track prepped M3's in when I arrived (the other kind, the kind that have lots more moving parts than our ones). Roll cages, stripped interiors, and lovely exteriors on the cars, Recaro seats and racks of beautiful looking exhausts on the wall, all in a tiny industrial unit. Which happens to be 2 doors down from the Edinburgh Service Centre.

Its been a long time since I was in the modding scene, but the level of service has significantly improved! And I don't mean free cans of coke and cups of tea (looking at you Tesla). I mean photos of the install process sent over as it was ongoing and a good techie chat afterwards about the specifics of the car, what the alignment was setup for, potential niggles to look out for. Although, had I known so many photos were going to be taken, I may have managed to wash the car up front :/.

Below are only a small selection of what Rob has sent me. The meticulous approach and documenting everything is brilliant - every nut is torque marked now so I can see if there are any problems coming, and I can see what the lowering setting is so we can change it later if I want to. Totally different to 10 years ago (or just better people :) ).

1.jpg
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After a quick stop at the new supercharger for some v3 pre-warming, it was time for a wee drive.

Disclaimers first: 1) It is/was lockdown, so I couldn't go galavanting off too far. 2) Despite lockdown it was still damn busy out there so I didn't get much clear road :/. 3) It was sleeting and I'm still on summer tyres this year due to 1) meaning I'm not doing much mileage.

Initial impression was good - its not become a rock. Its a family car and I was a bit worried about this, but the first few lumps and bumps out the car park showed it wasn't going to crunch any bones. After than I settled in and wound my way through some A road traffic, but never getting that fast or fun. Overtakes have so much more control now - it doesn't feel like all the weight transfers to the outside wheels and you have to wrestle the car back into the traffic. The turn in is amazing, super sharp, but also happier on the motorway, where it seems to flow much better rather than jiggle. The little bits of empty twisty road I found highlighted the fundamental increase in reliability of the the feeling of control - no longer clinging on thinking 'its a heavy car, with good tyres I'm not pushing that hard its going to be fine', because while it always was fine, now it feels fine.

The biggest difference, and the one place I could reliably unsettle the stock (AWD/P-) suspension was fast corners. Where previously the slightest undulation on a corner would set the whole car bouncing and spoinging around, changing the geometry and basically making you fight, now I'm limited by my ability to stay in the seat. My P- now has the ability to turn the corners to match its acceleration.

The last few 100 yards on the way home is littered with speed humps. Even at slow speed these would regularly create quite a thump from the stock suspension. Even this final bug bear is gone now.

As @U_S_D said - this is how the P should come.

What I'm not sure about is how much of the change is down to the kit vs just having someone that knows how to track prep the car dial in the tracking. I was never convinced by Tesla's efforts (sorry guys if you ever read this), which while they hit the right numbers, always felt pretty numb around the center point and was much keener to go right than left. Basically there may be a more efficient way to achieve a % of these gains, but I am very happy with how I have arrived at them.

Big thanks again to Rob, thoroughly recommended, and @U_S_D for doing all the hard work of selecting and importing the parts!

[some edits to try and get the images working]
 
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Electric Dream

Pilots the Millennium Milkfloat
Jul 21, 2016
1,655
2,724
UK
Great to hear about the improvement and good write up.
The alignment might have made a small amount of difference, but it is the new improved dampers primarily which have transformed the car.
The stock rear dampers are a big part of why these cars feel the way they do when they leave the factory. It's also why lowering springs alone are (IMO) a bit of a waste of time and money.
With a good coilover kit, you don't even get a significant benefit from uprated anti roll bars, so instead of paying for lowering springs + ARBs, it makes a lot more sense to just fit decent coilovers (MPP/KW or Redwood/Ohlins are probably the best ATM) and do a proper job straight away.
 

Avendit

Member
Apr 18, 2019
765
495
EDI
Fair point, cheers! I can't imagine the BOM of the KW's can be that much higher than the stock BOM when buying 100k units - I really don't understand why these aren't right, especially on the full fat P, from the factory. I guess the current solutions are 'good enough' for enough people, and for everyone else there is aftermarket?

Given they have a 'track pack' I was surprised they didn't at least put some suspension in there. I've not been in a full P, but my P- with AWD suspension wasn't getting anywhere near a track, it just wasn't confident enough.
 

Electric Dream

Pilots the Millennium Milkfloat
Jul 21, 2016
1,655
2,724
UK
Fair point, cheers! I can't imagine the BOM of the KW's can be that much higher than the stock BOM when buying 100k units - I really don't understand why these aren't right, especially on the full fat P, from the factory. I guess the current solutions are 'good enough' for enough people, and for everyone else there is aftermarket?

Given they have a 'track pack' I was surprised they didn't at least put some suspension in there. I've not been in a full P, but my P- with AWD suspension wasn't getting anywhere near a track, it just wasn't confident enough.

There is without a doubt economy of scale when comparing factory suspension with aftermarket. I'd say since the late 90's all the premium cars suffered from it. I owned a 911 (996) which I had to upgrade the suspension on and my last ICE car, a M-BMW 3 series had awful factory suspension and needed a Bilstein kit from Birds to turn it into what it should have been in the first place,

It's another example of Tesla not being the only brand to suffer from the bean counters compromising what could be a really good car out of the box. But I think that's always going to be the case up to a certain price point.

There's also the 'American' effect that means they maybe didn't test the car as much as they should have on the sort of roads and conditions we have to suffer in the UK. I first drove a Model 3 in the U.S. in 2018 and I knew then the suspension wouldn't be right for our roads. I drove a refreshed M3P recently and I don't think they've made any changes for the better even now. Some owners will put up with it, some will think that's as good as it gets and some, like you and me, will go in search of an alternative and spend a bit extra to make the car a lot better.

The 'track pack' was a bit of a lame marketing exercise. From what I've seen they haven't sold many in the U.S. as most realised they could pick up better wheels/pads/fluid at a lower price anyway. And yes, you can bolt a set of Cup2s on one and it will improve the lap times, but the shortcomings of the factory suspension will still be apparent and sap most driver's confidence.
 

M3PBOSS

Member
Jan 1, 2021
40
15
London
I too have fitted MPP comfort kit and this has transformed my car. More stable, less roll and yes more comfortable. Rides the bumps and is a lot less crashy than the standard set up.

How much was the cost in total and where did you get it done if you don't mind me asking. Are you aware of anyone that can do this up north?
 

pdk42

Active Member
Jul 17, 2019
1,035
1,019
Leamington
I did a suspension upgrade on my old BMW 335i. I only swapped the springs but always wished I’d done dampers too. The springs made a decent difference but people who went the whole hog always said what a huge difference the dampers made. I’m past spirited driving these days so can’t see me doing this on the Tesla, but good to know the same tricks work.
 

Avendit

Member
Apr 18, 2019
765
495
EDI
How much was the cost in total and where did you get it done if you don't mind me asking. Are you aware of anyone that can do this up north?

Parts are linked above, and Rob fitted for a bit more than £450. @U_S_D echoed this price for putting them on, although it was about half that to get a less specialist garage to put his back to stock. All the local garages I've used over the years for ICE servicing wouldn't touch it tho, too busy doing basic services to take on the new.

What was the impact of the change on your insurance?

Cough, should call them today and find out really :-(

I did a suspension upgrade on my old BMW 335i. I only swapped the springs but always wished I’d done dampers too. The springs made a decent difference but people who went the whole hog always said what a huge difference the dampers made. I’m past spirited driving these days so can’t see me doing this on the Tesla, but good to know the same tricks work.

The dampers are the weak point on the 3, so don't be tempted to do this (in case others were thinking of it).
 

Electric Dream

Pilots the Millennium Milkfloat
Jul 21, 2016
1,655
2,724
UK
Yes, springs are a waste of money IMO. You'll sacrifice ride quality just to make the car a bit lower. Even a really cheap set of coilovers will usually be better than springs alone.
 

Jonny Ringo

Member
Jun 11, 2020
30
40
Bromley UK
How much was the cost in total and where did you get it done if you don't mind me asking. Are you aware of anyone that can do this up north?
Any competent garage could do this in less than 4 hours. I used the BOSS Racing who look after my Caterham, anything to do with the suspension and brakes is very straightforward, to an engineer, plus MPP have very comprehensive installation instructions.
Insurance not a lot, exchanged serviceable parts and maintained manufactures ride height ;) just ask them.
Stability and control while improving the comfort will not be achieved by only changing the springs, this would be a waste of money IMO.
 
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Peteski

Active Member
Oct 2, 2017
3,539
2,286
UK, Milton Keynes
Yes, springs are a waste of money IMO. You'll sacrifice ride quality just to make the car a bit lower. Even a really cheap set of coilovers will usually be better than springs alone.

I totally agree with this. People often chase stiffer/lower setups thinking it will improve handling, which it only would on a billiard smooth surface. But in the real world they just increase tyre contact patch load variation over any bumps and therefore reduce overall grip. That’s where better quality dampers come into play. They allow you to retain relatively soft spring rates, but with much improved control over the travel. The problem with production dampers is their inconsistency from unit to unit. Even top level professional racing dampers usually need to be matched at different valve settings and regularly re-built and calibrated. It’s actually a bit of a nightmare to keep everything consistent.
 
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Avendit

Member
Apr 18, 2019
765
495
EDI
As we have come out of lockdown I've been doing more miles with the new setup. I just wanted to confirm for @VanillaAir_UK and any others that wanted to know, it seems to have helped the travel sickness problems in the family.

Just to round out the review, as this was one of the factors for me lowering.
 
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