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Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
4/6/21 12:12 p.m.

If this was a Miata, I'd be recommending stock springs, Koni yellows and a good inspection of the bushings. I'd also check tire pressure because it's a major contributor and tire shops do not set it.

cyow5 Reader
4/6/21 1:15 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

 I'd also check tire pressure because it's a major contributor and tire shops do not set it.

This is a personal peeve. A tire shop tried telling my wife her shocks were bad because of how harsh the car rode. She called me on the way home and said it was riding terrible, so she checked the tire pressures and say that all four were at least 10psi over spec. We let out nearly 1/3rd of the air and ta-da, back to normal. I really want to know now if it was an intentional effort to take advantage of a female owner (bad) or just a sloppy mechanic (worse?). 

Keith Tanner said:

... It might be worth checking out to see what the 949Racing guys have with their Xidas although they tend to be track focused. 

949 has a rep in the Miata community as providing excellent ride quality at the spring rates they offer, though the offerings for the FRS are a good bit more than the miata stuff. 

I think often about picking up a frisbee, and if I do I'd likely spend the money on 949s offering. 

I'd call them up and ask about softer spring rates for better ride quality vs. " Normal".   

CAinCA Reader
4/6/21 1:26 p.m.

I had similar complaints about my 2011 GTI with 50k miles on it. It had stock shocks and springs with poly bushings, stiffer sway bars and camber plates. It handled great but rode like E36 M3. I went with Koni Yellows and replaced the poly bushings with stock rubber. The bushings got rid of a lot of the NVH. The shocks really smoothed out the ride. The compression damping is MUCH better. Call Koni (or whoever you go with) and ask them where to set the shocks. I found out that at the softest setting the Yellows have as much or more rebound damping than the stock shocks do.

If your tires are ready to replace maybe look at a UHP A/S tire like the Pilot Sport AS4. They ride better than the PSS and have nearly the same handling (95%). It makes a huge difference when I swap back an forth between my AS tires and my 200TW tires.

Good luck!


lnlds Reader
4/6/21 1:43 p.m.

Try test driving a 2017+ variant. Updated springs rates/rollbars make it a much more refined package. Might be able to find take-offs off of someone upgrading their car for a nice budget fix.

I've only been in a 2017+ and it felt great, compliant not harsh (my dad's 2013 accord base was firmer).


Marc(Savagegeese), who is a pretty jaded/negative guy likes the new setup and feels the ride is comparable to the ohlins R&Ts he had on his old car.

(Clip starting from the time when he talks about the ride quality)


z31maniac MegaDork
4/6/21 1:43 p.m.
vsquaredbyrho said:

Thanks everyone for the rapid input. I knew GRM would have useful opinions. The FR-S is my daily driver, grocery getter, kid transporter, backroad carver, year-round car. My fundamental decision is between spending a little money to replace the suspension vs. much more money for a totally different platform with other (very useful) benefits and tradeoffs. The other platform discussion involves significantly more factors that would take this off-topic.

@NOHOME: I actually did buy an ATS that should have had the FE3 magnetic suspension based on the trim level. But after a few days I could never tell the difference between "tour" and "sport" mode. Some more research with the VIN and production code sticker in the trunk told me that it did not have the FE3 option. So I returned it to CarMax. My unicorn would be a manual RWD ATS with the FE3 suspension. There just aren't many out there for sale unless I include the ATS-V which is too much engine for my needs.

@Appleseed: Yes, stock suspension setup. It's almost certainly worn out by now. I'm weighing OEM replacements vs. a potential upgrade for more cost.

@KeithTanner: I would call it a harshness problem. The ride reminds me of my 240SX with the stock springs and Koni yellows set to full stiff. I want something like Koni yellows on full soft. A full set would be around $1000.

On wheel/tire choice: I have a set of 16" wheels and 205/55/16 tires for the winter months. The ride is a little better with those, but not a big difference. That points to degraded shocks or suspension bushings, it seems.

@red_stapler, @dps214: You said it well. I'm impressed by agile handling in the corners, not a harsh ride over broken pavement. I wondered if there is a little-known company out there that caters to my end of the market instead of the "because racecar" crowd.

I already shared the link to RaceComp Engineering. Their yellow springs + Koni/Bilstein get's rave reviews from owners. 

Tyler H (Forum Supporter)
Tyler H (Forum Supporter) UberDork
4/6/21 2:03 p.m.
racerdave600 said:

It will never ride as smoothly as the BMW (I had a '15 BRZ), but changing to a good shock with more rebound than compression will help.  I have always liked Konis for this.  

Came here to suggest Koni sports and see everyone else is all over it. 

What kind of tires are you running?  Crappy tires will make the car feel crappy, no matter what you do.

Worn out strut tops (or aftermarket ones) will absolutely kill ride compliance.  Took some $550 camber/caster plates out of my M3 and replaced with stock strut tops and it was the single biggest performance upgrade I've ever done to the car.  

I'm in the same camp that most aftermarket upgrades are not upgrades, however I won't condemn everything.  Koni sports are a great option for your goals and an upgrade from OE shocks in every facet, other than how cheaply they can be churned out.



vsquaredbyrho New Reader
4/6/21 5:23 p.m.

I'm definitely hearing that the Koni yellows or a set of takeoffs from a '17+ car would be a good path. The custom solutions all seem at least twice as expensive as those.

Without a new suspension to compare to, would the old "bounce the car corners and count the oscillations" shock test be definitive?

I'll play with tire pressure tomorrow. I keep them (Pilot Super Sports) at 35 psi. Maybe dropping to 32 or even 30 would make a difference.

vsquaredbyrho New Reader
4/6/21 5:30 p.m.

@z31maniac: The RCE spring package lists the spring rate as 250 lb/in with a 20mm drop. I believe the stock springs are closer to 125 and 200. My knowledge of spring mechanics implies that would be a stiffer ride (but with a nice shock). Am I thinking about that wrong?

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
4/6/21 5:32 p.m.

35 psi is pretty high for a street tire on a relatively light car. Maybe check to see what your door jamb says :)

If you lower the car, you have to increase the spring rates to keep the car off the bumpstops. Double the rate with a 20mm drop sounds reasonable - it'll ride better than 10% stiffer with that same drop. The shocks will make the difference in ride quality to a large extent.

vsquaredbyrho New Reader
4/6/21 5:54 p.m.

Keith, the door jamb says 35 psi cold. That's where I got the setting. Fair question though.

Furious_E (Forum Supporter)
Furious_E (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
4/6/21 6:56 p.m.

I did Bilsteins on my FRS last fall with the stock springs. Similar use case and end goal in mind, the car is a year round DD/back road carver, not a race car, so ride/handling balance was the priority over all out performance. 

I'm pretty satisfied with the results, especially as they've broken in they've softened up noticeably. Firm, but never harsh, suits me just about perfectly for a daily. But TBH, I'd call the Billies more of an incremental improvement over stock, whereas the Konis and springs I did on my old 4th gen Camaro were more of a transcendent upgrade, but that probably has more to do with the relative starting points than anything. Or maybe I just prefer Konis, hard to say without ever having driven them on the same platform.


Ironsides Reader
4/6/21 7:00 p.m.

+1 for stock late model take offs, do one better and find yourself a set of the sachs performance struts from the performance packs. These are known to ride a bit better overall.

What tire do you currently run and in what size (sorry if i missed it) I ran a set of winters in a 205/55r16 and they were exceptionally cushy along with the stock dampers. 

Can also confirm, ohlins R/T w/DFV do ride better than the stock '17 dampers, but add NVH w/pillow ball uppers and likely aren't what you're after. 

GTwannaB HalfDork
4/6/21 8:43 p.m.

Did you come here to listen to people who actually know what they are talking about or do you want to do something foolish? I say go full safari, raise it up 3 or 4 inches and put some mudders on 15in rally wheels. 

vsquaredbyrho New Reader
4/6/21 9:09 p.m.

@GTwannaB: That would certainly make for a better deep-snow vehicle. Ground clearance is the biggest challenge in the winter for me.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/7/21 8:46 a.m.
GTwannaB said:

Did you come here to listen to people who actually know what they are talking about or do you want to do something foolish? I say go full safari, raise it up 3 or 4 inches and put some mudders on 15in rally wheels. 

I like the cut of you jib.

But, seriously, yeah, good shocks will likely go a long way. 

vsquaredbyrho New Reader
4/7/21 9:33 a.m.

I tested my usual tire pressure (35 psi cold) on a local curvy back road with poor pavement. Felt like normal. I pulled over and warm pressures were around 38 psi.

So I dropped pressures to 32 psi warm and drove around again. The harshness was noticeably muted, but definitely not gone. It still felt pretty agile in corners with no obvious sign of sidewall roll-over, driving at seven-tenths. I'll keep this setting for a few days and see how it feels longer-term. If "warm" was 80 degF and "cold" is 50 degF, then the cold pressure should be about 30 psi by my rough PV=nRT calculation.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
4/7/21 9:54 a.m.

For whatever it's worth, the majority of the 5x100 Impreza/Legacy 16" wheels fit just fine with a small spacer if you're looking for more sidewall.

EDIT:  Also worth noting, when I bought mine (~50k miles) I blew one of the rear shocks almost immediately.  The stock stuff is not very robust.

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