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 Post subject: Stock Height Forester: MCA Street Essentials Coilover Review
PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 8:49 am 
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Vehicle: MY11 Blue S-Edition

Posts: 215
Location: Melbourne
I’m usually fairly apathetic when it comes to this stuff, but I thought I’d give something back as I couldn’t find much information on upgrading Forester suspension at stock height or the MCA Street Essential Coilovers

Non-Disclaimer: I have nothing to do with any of these companies, just sharing my own personal experience
Apologies in advance for the wall of text. If you’re too lazy: They’re awesome, get em

My current ride is a 2011 S-Edition Forester with stock S-Edition suspension (non-sls & apparently tuned by STI). I also have a Whiteline ALK, 24mm Front Swaybar, and 22mm Rear Swaybar on Bridgestone RE003 225/55/17 tyres running 34 PSI. Up until recently, I had been very happy with the stock springs and struts for my use, however after 110,000kms, they started squeaking, there was too much bum sag, and they were becoming too soft & bouncy for my liking. As I plan to keep this car for some time yet, I started thinking about upgrading my suspension. My use case:
1) 70% daily driver in inner city Melbourne. Must be relatively comfortable & handle speed bumps with ease
2) 10% offroad. Nothing too harsh. Don’t need too much articulation, but do need close to stock ground clearance and be able to handle potholes and corrugations with ease
3) 10% towing. I regular tow a small trailer (<750kg) and do lots of camping. All up, maybe 200kgs of weight in the back of the car (including towball weight)
4) 10% track days & mountain roads. A few times a year I’ll take the car to the mountains or a track for a spirited drive. It must perform.

I quickly realised there wasn’t much on the market that could meet all the criteria above. If you want to lower or raise your forester there are quite a few options, but if you want to retain stock height, with some level of performance, there are relatively few. After suffering from analysis paralysis, I narrowed my choices down to the following options:

1) Stock height King Springs with KYB Struts
The cheapest option at around $800, and generally considered an OEM replacement. I believe the OEM S-edition struts are actually made by KYB according to Subaru/STI specifications. In terms of performance, I was not convinced these were actually an upgrade for my stock S-edition suspension when it was new

2) Near New Tein Street Advance Coilovers + 2 inch spacers
A good deal came up for a set of near new Tein Street Advance Coilovers. $1200, for coilovers, including 2 inch subie lift strut top spacers. Would have allowed me to raise and lower the car 1 inch from stock. I was not convinced these would be comfortable enough for a daily drive or provide enough suspension travel for offroading

3) Cusco Coilovers
Looks like Cusco did have some coilovers available that may have fit the bill, however these were pricey at $1900-$2300 USD
I couldn’t find much information on these, and it looks like they were either discontinued or only made for JDM.
Image

4) MCA Street Essentials + 1 inch spacers
Had heard about MCA street blue coilovers, then went to the MCA website and saw these new Street Essentials Coilovers. Gee, they sound exactly like what I’m looking for, I thought:
“The Essential Series offers our maximum level of comfort for street applications. Benefiting from our next generation of degressive valving technology, this series is optimial for comfort orientated street use while providing full adjustability, refined handling and stability”.
Approximately $1800 + 1 inch spacers. Adding 1 inch spacers from subielift would provide me with the flexibility to raise or lower the forester 1 inch from stock and still have the coilovers perform in their optimum range.

In the end it came down to the Teins Street Advance or MCA Street Essential coilovers. I decided to go with the MCA Street Essentials as they are an Australian company with some great reviews and they can customise to your requirements. I sent MCA an email with my use case above and later called them to discuss options. I spoke with Josh who confirmed the Street Essentials would be an ideal choice. I went with his recommendation to go with 5kg front and 4kg rear springs for my use case.

I received the coilovers from MCA a week later and took them to Centreline suspension to have them fitted with 1 inch spacers and a wheel alignment.
Image

I went for a few drives, but there was a problem. Back to Centreline to have the problem diagnosed. I was getting coil bind on the front suspension, where the spring coils were hitting metal on metal on the slightest of bumps or uneven flat surfaces. Centreline discussed the issue with MCA and it was agreed that the front springs were too short to reach stock height as promised. MCA agreed to send longer replacement front springs at no cost. Back to Centreline for fitting. This time Centreline also installed Silasto Bump stop bushes when replacing the springs on the front coilovers, and they also replaced the Whiteline ALK with Subaru OEM caster bushes. I believe MCA are now considering installing this longer front spring for Foresters wishing to achieve stock height.

While it was a hassle and took some time and a few visits to Centreline to get the suspension sorted, I’m thrilled with the result. Exactly what I was after. The front suspension height is almost the same as beforehand, whereas the rear has been raised ~ 10mm, giving a slight rake. I’ve gone for a few drives now and have tried everything except offroad. As a daily driver around town, the suspension is firm but comfortable. No complaints from the wife, in fact, she commented it was more comfortable than beforehand. Truth be told, this may actually have as much to do with swapping the Whiteline ALK back to Subaru OEM bushes as much as the replacing the suspension. If anyone is thinking about installing a Whiteline ALK for a daily drive, Don’t. The marginal benefit is not worth the significant increase in NVH. I’ve also towed my camping trailer with the car fully packed. The rear suspension only compressed a few mm with hardly any saggy bum. The car towed fantastic, was more balanced and the steering more precise, probably due to more weight being transferred to the front suspension. Lastly, I went for a twisty mountain drive. Ooooh.... No loss of traction and flat through the corners, the handling was sublime. Happy Days! My forester would have to be one of the most comfortable, best handling cars with that much ground clearance. Mission Accomplished.

Before:
Image

After:
Image

Thanks to Centreline Suspension, SubieLift (nachaluva), and of course MCA for their coilovers & great customer service.


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 Post subject: Re: Stock Height Forester: MCA Street Essentials Coilover Review
PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 9:45 am 
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Vehicle: MY08 XT (SH)

Posts: 1203
Location: Brisbane
Great write-up. :thumbs:

Us "stock height appreciators" are an often-neglected demographic.

---

Out of interest, why did you remove the anti-lift kit at the same time as putting in the coilovers? overall geometry? part of the problem with spring-bind? Just sick of the NVH?

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 Post subject: Re: Stock Height Forester: MCA Street Essentials Coilover Review
PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 3:40 pm 
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Vehicle: MY09 XT Premium

Posts: 190
Location: Australia
Nothing wrong with stock height - I'd almost consider going back but I like the look of my "XT Wagon" too much. I agree with the Whiteline ALK being far too harsh for daily duties. Currently pending some Group N bushes to arrive - can't wait to get rid of the ALK. (I'm on MY08 STi struts/springs FYI).


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 Post subject: Re: Stock Height Forester: MCA Street Essentials Coilover Review
PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 7:41 pm 
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Vehicle: MY11 Blue S-Edition

Posts: 215
Location: Melbourne
Yeah, regarding removing the white line ALK, I was just sick of the NVH, so took the opportunity to remove it. It really is that bad. Much better without it & the improvement is immediately noticeable.

The harshness was the issue. You could drive over a mosquito and it would feel like a boulder...


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 Post subject: Re: Stock Height Forester: MCA Street Essentials Coilover Review
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2018 12:45 pm 
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Vehicle: MY09 XT Premium

Posts: 190
Location: Australia
kab wrote:
Yeah, regarding removing the white line ALK, I was just sick of the NVH, so took the opportunity to remove it. It really is that bad. Much better without it & the improvement is immediately noticeable.

The harshness was the issue. You could drive over a mosquito and it would feel like a boulder...


Exactly the feeling I was getting. In fact, my Group N bushes arrived today so I'll be booking it in to swap the ALK over. Can't wait to have a nice, comfortable ride again. I'm not expecting OEM smoothness but I should retain much of the benefit of the ALK - it should be a good compromise.


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 Post subject: Re: Stock Height Forester: MCA Street Essentials Coilover Review
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2018 8:33 pm 
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Vehicle: MY10 XT -

Posts: 306
Location: Brisbane
Nice mate,
Information I was looking for, as I have been trying to make up my mind on the MCA Street essentials or the Street Performance. Exactly what I would like...siting flat around corners or windy roads, but still wanting to retain the comfort :thumbs: My ride height is currently factory, but looking at dropping the height a little.


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