ST Coilovers – First Thoughts
Recently the A6 received a new set of VMR 702s. As some may know the 702s are a 19×8.5 wheel finished in matte silver with an offset of 35mm. Well, as the saying goes, if you give a moose a muffin….
Look it up, anyway, one thing led to another and we decided that the new wheels would look infinitely better if the A6 was lowered. Funny how that works. So after some careful planning we decided to go forward with coilovers. There were a strict set of criteria we had to meet for this project to work. The most important being ride quality. We were looking for a reliable system that offered easy adjustability while maintaining a close to stock ride quality. Basically we did not need nor want a sled, because of this we spent a lot of time looking at spring rates. The spring rate, along with properly matched shocks helps determine the quality and stiffness of the ride. (Damping also plays a role, but our setup was to be fixed) Lower spring rates mean a softer, and thus more comfortable ride at the expense of handling. The STs were the closest to stock spring rates we could find. Remember we were not looking to stiffen up the ride of the A6, rather we just needed to lower the car for a different look. The STs were a perfect match for what we needed, we had heard good things about them and they seemed to be on the softer side. We ordered a set from Glen at Eurocollective (Formally known as AMI) and waited to see what would come. Within a week a new set of STs were delivered to us in record time. The STs are a linear spring setup with a helper spring up front and separated progressive springs for the rear. The overall quality looked very good, the finishes were well done, and clean. The shocks looked well-made and the welds were clean and close. One unique feature of the STs we found interesting, was the plastic spring perch. The perch for the front coils was reinforced with a light weight metal liner and had plastic threads to prevent the shocks from locking up. Another key rust prevention feature was the zinc coating on the shocks that will help with the hard winters and road salt. So after inspecting the kit, we started the tear down. This is where we ran into some problems, the car has seen a few winters to say the least. As a result the pinch bolts were a nightmare to get out. All in all the process took about 12 hours to remove both bolts. The driver side came somewhat easily after using the impact wrench on it for a few minutes. We were able to spin the bolt out by rotating it in the spindle, after breaking it free, we tapped it out with a hammer and punch. The passenger side bolt was a different story. The bolt was not only seized in the hole, but also bent from years of crappy roads. (Thanks Audi, thank you, no really, thanks) After pulling the nut, we tried to same approach we took with the driver side bolt, only to shear the head off the bolt. At this point we figured ok, we can just punch it out. Wrong. The bolt was so solidly in the hole, that even a 12lb hammer and punch were not able to get it to move. We realized that we needed to heat the bad boy up to get it to move. After heating it for some time, we got it to move about half way out. It then decided to jam itself in beyond the reach of the punch. (At this point it was dark, and we were starting to get pissed) Finally after several hours banging, we broke out the drill. At this point it was about 1AM and we were furiously drilling through this friggin bolt determined to pull it for once and all. Finally the bolt let go after an eight hour battle. We went to bed. The next morning work resumed, and went quite well after the bolt was out. We were able to mount the front coilovers with the use of an open end ratchet and Allen sockets. They went back in without a fight, the rears were a different set up, as the shock and spring were separated. We dusted the shocks for the rears in about thirty minutes because there were only three screws per side. The springs for the rear presented a slight problem, as the compressor tool was not able to compress the rears enough to pull them loose. In the end, we simply cut the old ones out and placed the new set up in. The STs are very easy to adjust up front, we able to do it by hand. (There is one grub screw per side that needs a small Allen key) The rears, however were not as easy, and required a large amount of work to get to the correct ride height. (A lot of small and stiff turns) To be honest we found this to be the biggest flaw of the STs, however we suspect most coilover set ups would be the same. With the ride height set, we took the car for a quick spin to verify our work and the quality of the coilovers. We are very impressed with the ride quality of the STs, the ride is soft like the factory, but feels more connected to the road. The whole set up feels tighter then the OEM equipment, but that may be due to the age of the old parts. After several hundred miles, we still remained impressed with the ride quality and can say that the STs were exactly what we were looking for. The car rides well and does not feel like a sled, and although this set up doesn’t out preform the stiffer set ups like H&R, it does exactly what we need it to. Overall we are very happy with the coilovers, and would recommend them to anyone looking to go lower without giving up the factory ride quality. However if you are after better performance and a stiffer ride, the STs may not be what you need. We still are testing the long term quality of the STs, but we give the STs high scores for initial quality and ride performance. Here are some pics of the install, note the fugly aftermath of pinch bolt in the shots of the spindle. As always, happy wrenching and don’t try this unless you know what you are doing.