Cliff Notes: Lowering a MacPherson strut equipped car below its designed limit will change the way the suspension responds under compression and extension resulting in undesired handling tendencies.
Now if you have read my earlier posts, or read the ultimate commuter writeup, you’ll notice that I really liked the Neuspeed and Koni Yellow setup that I had. Fast forward to half a year later and I no longer have the Neuspeed springs, nor do I have the Koni Yellows on the car anymore.
“What happened?”, you might ask. Well, in all honesty, while the lowered setup looked great, the harder you drove it, the more you disliked it. It wasn’t as fun anymore. It was missing the fluidity of the stock setup. There was no confidence in the middle of turns.It never felt like it settled in properly. The stock setup always rolled, but took a set and launched out of a corner with tenacity. It made you feel like a hero. And most importantly, even a 35 mph turn put a grin on your face.
For a daily driver and a little canyon carving once in a while, the stock setup is fantastic. I did leave the rear sway bar. (8/2011 note: the sway bar is gone as well). Having a nice set of tires helps as well. My opinion right now is that if you don’t mind the stock ride height, stick with the stock springs and change out the shocks when they have a few more miles on them. I’d probably head over to the Bilstein camp if I could do it all over again. Monotube and bulletproof.
If you’re really interested in the technical aspects of why it probably didn’t handle as well, go to vwvortex.com and search the archives for “suspension geometry”. There are several good threads regarding the MKIV geometry and why lowering indiscriminately ruins the handling. While the MKV’s front setup has been tweaked and parts are different, it is still a McPherson strut setup and the same theories apply. If you’re bent on getting a drop, accept that handling will be compromised (perfectly fine, as long as you know why it is compromised).
My recommendation for an excellent handling street setup is to change out the stock dampers for some Bilstein’s or Koni’s. The ride height will be kept optimal and the dampers will be far more optimized for performance driving.
(As of 8/2011, I’m now using the stock springs with Koni Sport dampers)