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Old 07-25-2016, 08:38 PM
bmwexpat bmwexpat is offline
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Building my Personal Ultimate Driving Machine

About a year ago, we needed a replacement car for my wife. As we already have 2 other higher HP cars we wanted to pick up something to complement our other vehicles. After a bunch of test drives we settled on a low mileage CPO F30 328. We picked the 328 instead of the 335 because it's a few hundred pounds lighter, has a very quick steering rack, and is quick enough for its main role as a daily commuter.

I also knew going in that the suspension in any current BMW 3 series is severely under-sprung and has limited damping capabilities. It's why we deliberately bought a used BMW as I knew I was going to be throwing away bits of the car. On the positive side, the current F30 chassis is extremely ridge, the N20 engine is torquey and reliable, and the 8 speed auto complements the entire package. The core was there for very good momentum car.

Step 1 – Dump the run-flats and overweight BMW wheels

Since we live in CA, we've gotten used to running extreme performance summer tires year –round. My wife thought the run-flat tires on the 328 were like a bad joke. The grip is horrible, the tire squirm was high, and the ride quality is worse than an extreme performance tire. Nothing wrong with the stock BMW wheels except they are very heavy. By replacing both wheels and tires, with a set of 9 X 18 APEX wheels and Sumitomo HTR Z III's, I calculated that I saved about 10 pounds a wheel in unsprung weight. That may not sound like much but it made a significant improvement in the overall grip, ride quality, and drivability of the 328. I picked the Sumitomo's because I needed something cheap to get my wife through the rainy season and if I wanted to make a change later I would not feel bad about tossing a set of $600 tires. To my surprise the Sumitomo's are one of the best budget performance tires you can buy and will stay with the car a while longer.

Step 2 – Suspension- Replace but with what?

When considering suspensions, the first thing to figure out is how you drive the car and what you want out of the suspension. That leads to a decision on what areas of ride vs comfort do you need to compromise and how much are you willing to spend to achieve your goals. All suspensions are compromises, it's just a matter of in which direction and how much. In my case a fun road trip on the weekend can encompass some excellent driving roads like, Calaveras, Mines, Skyline, LA Honda, and a few others like HWY 1 to Big Sur. Fun driving roads all , but they are full of broken pavement, pot holes and other things that overtax a wimpy suspension very quickly. I wanted something that would eat up the bad pavement and not have a punishing ride. Suspensions that can do those things reside in the high end of the performance street category and encompass companies such as Ohlin's, KW, Billstein, and others.

In my case I selected the Ohlin's DFV's. I chose the DFV's from feedback I recieved from friends that the DFV technology does work and when you hit that heaved up section of broken pavement or pothole, at speed, the suspension just deals with it. Attached is a link to the DVF tech information so read at your own leisure….. http://www.roadandtrackbyohlins.com/ Along with the Ohlin's I also purchased Ground Control adjustable camber plates since the 328 was lowered about an inch front and rear and the front camber is now set a relatively mild -2 degrees with zero toe.

Results – Did I hit my Goals?

Handling – BMW does not publish the spring rates for the F30's but suffice it to say that the Ohlin's spring rates are double to triple the stock BMW rates. That translates to very little body roll and a very quick turn in capability that happens "now". Shock damping is as advertised. The Ohlin's just eat up bad pavement and the car is now an extremely stable and predictable platform. Big bump or broken pavement in the middle of a corner the Ohlin's just eat it up and that provides an amazing feeling of confidence. The 328 is now a very playful puppy that loves to be tossed into any type of corner. Overall the car is very neutral handling but can be made to predictably rotate with the throttle if you want. The key word here is predictable.

Braking- The stock braking system on an F30 is actually quite good for street use. What is not good is the basketball effect with tires leaving contact with the pavement. Loss of contact occurs when braking hard into corners with rough or broken pavement, the front tires momentarily lose contact with the pavement as the stock suspension can't keep up. The Ohlin's ability to keep the tires planted on the pavement allows the braking system to function in a much more predictable fashion. It's a difference you can feel and as a result one feels a lot more comfortable braking harder and deeper in to corners.

Overall Drivability

Have had a chance to drive 2 fun roads since the conversion-
Calaveras – ate up the big whoops leading up to the park. Once on the hill I could really attack the corners with confidence and found myself carrying a significant amount of extra speed between corners. Had to cut the ride short due to time constraints, but it was awesome while it lasted.

Skyline – My wife drove part and loved how her car handled. She was easily carrying 10+ MPH above her normal cautious pace. The new suspension just gave her a whole new feeling of confidence. Once I drove, I could keep her comfortable and still up my pace about 10 mph over what I could normally drive with her in the car, before I'd get complaints of tossing her around too much. The Ohlin's just smoothed everything out and got rid of 90+% of the unwanted body motion.

Overall Impression

For about a $4500 investment in tires, wheels, and suspension I got the results I wanted. Both my wife and I are very pleased with the decision to move forward with the Ohlin's upgrade. My only complaint on the Ohlin's is they are a single adjustable shock and I wish I had a bit more control over compression vs rebound. I'd like to reduce the compression a bit more over wavy pavement to reduce a bit of "jiggles' that do come though at lower speeds. (This is a very small complaint in the overall performance of the system.) Overall the 328 is now a very easy and rewarding car to drive at any pace. When the opportunity presents itself the 328 can be driven near its limits with extreme confidence.
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Last edited by bmwexpat; 07-25-2016 at 08:41 PM.
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  #2  
Old 07-26-2016, 01:00 AM
CALWATERBOY DUE CALWATERBOY DUE is offline
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Your bad boy gotta LSD?

That camber makes massive diff, ride quality + grip....can easily go add'l 0.5°
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  #3  
Old 07-26-2016, 06:41 AM
bmwexpat bmwexpat is offline
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No LSD on the 328. Have only found a few occasions where I noticed the open diff. was an issue. Also, since this is my wife's car there are not that many opportunities to push the car hard enough where I miss it.

It regards to the camber, no question I could go more aggressive. My thought is why bother as this is my wife's car and she is not that aggressive and it will just kill the insides of the tires a bit faster.

Also, I don't need the 328 to be a truly bad-ass street car. I have an M3 for that. The M3 is also going through an upgrade process that is quite a bit more aggressive. Just installed MCS suspension with swift springs. Going through break in period now. Once I get the car aligned my Dinan wheels with Trofeo R's go on. Playing with headers, pulley upgrade, meth-injection, and custom tune later this summer. Targeting 500+ wheel HP.
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Old 07-26-2016, 05:16 PM
CALWATERBOY DUE CALWATERBOY DUE is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmwexpat View Post
No LSD on the 328. Have only found a few occasions where I noticed the open diff. was an issue. Also, since this is my wife's car there are not that many opportunities to push the car hard enough where I miss it.

It regards to the camber, no question I could go more aggressive. My thought is why bother as this is my wife's car and she is not that aggressive and it will just kill the insides of the tires a bit faster.

Also, I don't need the 328 to be a truly bad-ass street car. I have an M3 for that. The M3 is also going through an upgrade process that is quite a bit more aggressive. Just installed MCS suspension with swift springs. Going through break in period now. Once I get the car aligned my Dinan wheels with Trofeo R's go on. Playing with headers, pulley upgrade, meth-injection, and custom tune later this summer. Targeting 500+ wheel HP.

M3'll deliver.





But as you know, LSD has pronounced effect just moving through a parking lot. With high camber, delivers confidence and precision never available with 328i stock offer. But would she appreciate that? Maybe not so much as you & I.....
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Old 07-26-2016, 05:25 PM
mr_clueless mr_clueless is offline
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This is cool. A pricey upgrade though. I'm truly clueless about this stuff, so...can this be applied to a car with DHP?

BTW, manually adjustable Ohlins are the OEM for the Volvo S60/V60 Polestar cars, and they are very favorably reviewed on the Volvo forums, although a few people do complain they are harsh with the factory settings given that the car has 20" wheels.
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Old 07-26-2016, 07:46 PM
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Eagle11 Eagle11 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmwexpat View Post
For about a $4500 investment in tires, wheels, and suspension I got the results I wanted. Both my wife and I are very pleased with the decision to move forward with the Ohlin's upgrade. My only complaint on the Ohlin's is they are a single adjustable shock and I wish I had a bit more control over compression vs rebound. I'd like to reduce the compression a bit more over wavy pavement to reduce a bit of "jiggles' that do come though at lower speeds. (This is a very small complaint in the overall performance of the system.) Overall the 328 is now a very easy and rewarding car to drive at any pace. When the opportunity presents itself the 328 can be driven near its limits with extreme confidence.
You will never be able to adjust the suspension to your liking, public roads are not the race track, public roads will always change, as well as the weight of the car.
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2020 M340i C31, MAOI, 1PV, ZPP, ZPX, 1CR, 4UR, 6NW BMS Stage 1

2017 330i, 475, KCL3, ZDA, ZPP, 2A5, 494, 4GA, 609, 6CP BMS JB tune and Many Coded goodies Gone

2016 328xi GT, A86, LCOM, ZDA, ZDH, ZLP, ZPP, ZTP, 494, 5AC, 5DF, 5DL, BMS Stage 1, Many coded goodies. ED 8-28-2015 Gone
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Old 07-26-2016, 09:05 PM
bmwexpat bmwexpat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eagle11 View Post
You will never be able to adjust the suspension to your liking, public roads are not the race track, public roads will always change, as well as the weight of the car.
Actually you are wrong. The upper end of the performance street and the lower end of the Motorsports suspension systems have some very amazing capabilities today. Depending on the manufacturer there are between 20-30 levels of adjustment for both compression and rebound. Plus you can customize spring rates if you want to. This allows a great deal of adjustment to tailor a suspension to the characteristics that you desire. Also, a high performance suspension is not about stiffness, it about compliance over road problems such as broken pavement or pot holes. It will significantly outperform a stock suspension on all roads and surfaces.
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Old 07-26-2016, 09:10 PM
bmwexpat bmwexpat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr_clueless View Post
This is cool. A pricey upgrade though. I'm truly clueless about this stuff, so...can this be applied to a car with DHP?

BTW, manually adjustable Ohlins are the OEM for the Volvo S60/V60 Polestar cars, and they are very favorably reviewed on the Volvo forums, although a few people do complain they are harsh with the factory settings given that the car has 20" wheels.
The simple answer is yes, but the car will need to be fooled or re-coded to think that the DHP is still in place. It can be done but it would be a more expensive exercise.

IN regards to the Ohlins Volvo is using, not sure if they are the DFV's or a Volvo specific unit with different characteristics.
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Old 07-26-2016, 10:30 PM
mr_clueless mr_clueless is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmwexpat View Post
The simple answer is yes, but the car will need to be fooled or re-coded to think that the DHP is still in place. It can be done but it would be a more expensive exercise.

IN regards to the Ohlins Volvo is using, not sure if they are the DFV's or a Volvo specific unit with different characteristics.
It looks like they are DFVs.
https://www.ohlins.eu/en/news/a-sele...-volvo--63287/
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Old 07-27-2016, 07:15 AM
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Eagle11 Eagle11 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmwexpat View Post
Actually you are wrong. The upper end of the performance street and the lower end of the Motorsports suspension systems have some very amazing capabilities today. Depending on the manufacturer there are between 20-30 levels of adjustment for both compression and rebound. Plus you can customize spring rates if you want to. This allows a great deal of adjustment to tailor a suspension to the characteristics that you desire. Also, a high performance suspension is not about stiffness, it about compliance over road problems such as broken pavement or pot holes. It will significantly outperform a stock suspension on all roads and surfaces.
I guess my 20 yrs of road racing meaning nothing.. Have fun with your car.
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2017 330i, 475, KCL3, ZDA, ZPP, 2A5, 494, 4GA, 609, 6CP BMS JB tune and Many Coded goodies Gone

2016 328xi GT, A86, LCOM, ZDA, ZDH, ZLP, ZPP, ZTP, 494, 5AC, 5DF, 5DL, BMS Stage 1, Many coded goodies. ED 8-28-2015 Gone
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Old 07-28-2016, 06:38 AM
bmwexpat bmwexpat is offline
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I guess my 20 yrs of road racing meaning nothing.. Have fun with your car.
Slow down cowboy......

If you have set up a car primarily for the track, and especially if you keep making changes to chase the last couple tenths of a second. I agree with you. You can't dial the adjustments back far enough that it will a tolerable as street car. My son has an S2000 that is now primarily a track car. It used to be a fun sports car on the road. Now it's jouncy, stiff, and full of rattles on the street. On the track, it can set some really quick lap times.

I'm coming at this from the perspective the stock BMW suspensions are way to soft and under-sprung as a street car. The Ohlins are one solution among many. I just put a set of MCS's on my M3 and am still in the break in period so all the setting are at the mid-point for both compression and rebound. I am really surprised on how "plush" the ride is. There is some amazing technology in aftermarket suspension systems that greatly surpasses what BMW offers. I also, admit the aftermarket path is not for everyone.
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Old 07-28-2016, 06:51 AM
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Eagle11 Eagle11 is offline
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Originally Posted by bmwexpat View Post
Slow down cowboy......

If you have set up a car primarily for the track, and especially if you keep making changes to chase the last couple tenths of a second. I agree with you. You can't dial the adjustments back far enough that it will a tolerable as street car. My son has an S2000 that is now primarily a track car. It used to be a fun sports car on the road. Now it's jouncy, stiff, and full of rattles on the street. On the track, it can set some really quick lap times.

I'm coming at this from the perspective the stock BMW suspensions are way to soft and under-sprung as a street car. The Ohlins are one solution among many. I just put a set of MCS's on my M3 and am still in the break in period so all the setting are at the mid-point for both compression and rebound. I am really surprised on how "plush" the ride is. There is some amazing technology in aftermarket suspension systems that greatly surpasses what BMW offers. I also, admit the aftermarket path is not for everyone.
This is why I ordered our 328 with the DHP, the adaptive suspension is the way to go. Nothing to play with and comes with a factory warrenty
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2020 M340i C31, MAOI, 1PV, ZPP, ZPX, 1CR, 4UR, 6NW BMS Stage 1

2017 330i, 475, KCL3, ZDA, ZPP, 2A5, 494, 4GA, 609, 6CP BMS JB tune and Many Coded goodies Gone

2016 328xi GT, A86, LCOM, ZDA, ZDH, ZLP, ZPP, ZTP, 494, 5AC, 5DF, 5DL, BMS Stage 1, Many coded goodies. ED 8-28-2015 Gone
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  #13  
Old 07-28-2016, 07:27 AM
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floydarogers floydarogers is offline
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BMWexpat/OP: I'm not terribly knowledgeable about suspensions, but I'm surprised that you didn't do a rear roll bar change. I've read several articles in Roundel where people swear by them for the 3 series, both for roll and understeer reduction.

Thoughts?
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