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  #1  
Unread 7th June 2018, 12:28 AM
kab kab is offline
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Default Lift & Lower Forester:MCA Street Essentials Coilovers

Originally posted this on ozfoz, but thought I'd post here as well as I've seen a few people here looking to achieve something similar. Iím usually fairly apathetic when it comes to this stuff, but I thought Iíd give something back as I couldnít 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 youíre too lazy: Theyíre 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. Donít 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 Iíll take the car to the mountains or a track for a spirited drive. It must perform.

I quickly realised there wasnít 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 couldnít find much information on these, and it looks like they were either discontinued or only made for JDM.


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 Iím looking for, I thought:
ďThe 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 stabilityĒ.
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.


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, Iím 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. Iíve 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, Donít. The marginal benefit is not worth the significant increase in NVH. Iíve 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:


After:


Thanks to Centreline Suspension, SubieLift (nachaluva), and of course MCA for their coilovers & great customer service.
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  #2  
Unread 7th June 2018, 02:35 AM
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MCA have a great reputation, they were the first place I contacted when I wanted custom long travel coilovers. Unfortunately they couldn't make coilovers with the travel I wanted, so I went with Hotbits. 5Kg and 4Kg springs won't be great offroad, but would be a great onroad. I've also got 22mm whiteline swaybars front and rear, my car handles very good, yours must be a weapon
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  #3  
Unread 7th June 2018, 02:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kab View Post
Apologies in advance for the wall of text. If youíre too lazy: Theyíre awesome, get em

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Unread 7th June 2018, 07:50 PM
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Yes, you had a very unique set of requirements! Well done for persisting with it & getting such good results!


Also, it looks stunning!!
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  #5  
Unread 7th June 2018, 09:05 PM
kab kab is offline
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Thanks again Matt for the lift kits. Didn't end up using the 2nd one...
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  #6  
Unread 8th June 2018, 01:24 PM
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I can't see any difference between the before and after pics ?!
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  #7  
Unread 8th June 2018, 08:10 PM
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I think that's kind of the point. No noticible change in height (10mm at rear), but better handling and comfort.
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  #8  
Unread 8th June 2018, 08:17 PM
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A world of difference between standard SH slop and MCA goodness. The suspension bushes are now the weak link, even so a great improvement no doubt
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Unread 9th June 2018, 04:35 AM
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What the heck? When I came across this thread I was thinking someone had acted upon my own thoughts in just the last few days. I have an '09 SH XT Forester and I've been wanting pretty much the same as you stated except that I'm looking for a little more lift and planning on fitting 225/70/16 BFG KO2's instead of the factory wheels and tyre setup. It's comforting to see you're happy with the MCA blue series (seems like a misnomer considering they've turned up green in your photo) as that's the set I've messaged them about earlier today. So you've found that they are able to lift the car a little more? I'm also waiting to hear from them with regards to the wheel travel being as much, more or less than factory. What did they tell you?
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Unread 9th June 2018, 04:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by subalex View Post
So you've found that they are able to lift the car a little more?
They lowered the car a little. The after photo is with 1" spacers fitted on top of the coilovers
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