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2004 Alfa Romeo 156 1.8TS
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Discussion Starter #1
Car info/condition: 2004 Alfa Romeo 156 RST – 2.0TS converted, w/AC - 278.000km. Daily driven.
Front upper wishbones w/Powerflex bushes – replaced within last two years. Front lower wishbones w/arm-to-strut fork Powerflex bushes – replaced within last half year. Front ARB Powerflex bushes. Rear control arms in good condition, but not replaced during my ownership (~80.000km). Front strut brace. Run on 17” Toyo T1R & 16” UniRoyal Rainsport 3. Coilovers installed for about one year & 25.000kms. Lowering set to approximately 55mm both front and rear.

Driver info: 30 years old, occasionally driving track days & enjoying the random spirited drives. Have worked within motorsports and have good basic knowledge of car setup & mechanical aspects. Located in Denmark, with above average road condition (compared to other European countries).

First impression – 5/6: Well packaged kit, however front strut nuts for top mount included, had the wrong taper. Replacements were sent from Bilstein. Otherwise the kit seems well made. Fitment went well, with the hassle that can be expected on a 156/147/GT.

Comfort – 2/6: Bilsteins Road Test involves lapping the Nordschleife, and I can understand why. This coilover set is not developed with comfort in mind – but with a great focus on handling! It’s not bumpy and uncontrolled harshness as can be seen with cheaper coilover kits, but it is a very stiff setup – especially on the rear end. Under load (packed boot, towing a trailer etc.), the rear does however soften up, and the ride does become more comfortable. As expected, there is a slight improvement in comfort on 16” wheels over 17”. Tyre choice and sidewall stiffness also plays a part in this.

Handling - 6/6:
The handling is impeccable. With the highly increased stiffness of the rear end and a significant reduction in body roll, it has meant a great increase in turn-in. The car goes where you want it and expect it to go – of course the limiting factor now being the tyres, rather than the suspension itself. Where the car previously had a tendency to roll and understeer on its old and soft suspension, it now just goes. In one particular round about on my way to work, I have been able to put down a 20% speed increase in the dry, and a similar improvement in the wet. The car will still understeer on the T1Rs in the rain, but it does require more provocation now – and the limit is much easier found and less sudden.

Closing thoughts: Is it too stiff for daily driving? It depends who you are. I’ve had a handful of days since fitting this kit about a year ago, where I’ve hated it, due to a strain in my back. But for the most part I don’t mind. Is it too stiff for spirited drives on open roads then? In my opinion, no. It isn’t. If your spirited driving is at such speed that you risk upsetting the rear over a bump in the road, you’re at such a level that it’s already dangerous for yourself and other road users – go on a trackday instead.
This is the perfect coilover kit for track day use and even entry level motorsports – though here of course the B16 kit would be preferable, as it allows damper adjustment. As above, for daily driving you might find it too harsh. I would consider other options in the future, for a daily driver with high mileage – but on a weekend or seasonal car, I wouldn’t think twice about getting another set of B14s.
 

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Nice review. Just a couple of questions though. Was your car Sportpack/Veloce originally? How would you rate the original suspension (front dampers were probably on last legs)? Can you get it airborne or at least attack sharply undulating B roads without scraping exhaust/sump/gearbox?
 

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2004 Alfa Romeo 156 1.8TS
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389 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Old suspension was definitely Sportpack springs - whether original or not, I don't know. Other than that it was old and saggy suspension, very sloppy and soft before. Comfort was good, but handling was a bit 'meh'..
I haven't had it airborne no, though there is a small road near work, where my Punto used to have a short flight at the right speed. Haven't dared trying in this yet. The only thing I've scraped is my tow bar attachment point, when backing up into a driveway and the car is loaded. I run an aluminium undertray for better clearance ;)
 
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