I’ve had H&R lowering springs on my FR and now on my Cupra. And I’ve always loved them (from a handling perspective). As I’ve got older and my bones become more sensitive, my spine and my butt have grown to hate them. I love the lowered stance, the cornering feel and response. But I find myself swerving to miss every pothole and they don’t really suit UK roads. I may have to swap these out for coilovers just for the comfort. But keep in mind also, I put new springs on 7 year old factory dampers. So maybe a spring / matched damper kit would be just as good.
I’m not sure 10mm wider on each wheel makes any performance difference. But 1:- they make the wheels match up to the arches and 2:- more importantly you can fit larger brake kits without them catching. I went H&R because I’ve heard cheaper brands can do more harm than good.
Ah, the magical fix all. This can go one of two ways. I went with the cheap polybush and hated the extra harshness. I now would only ever go for Vibratechnics. An uprated dogbone definitely produces a sharper take up of power you can feel as the clutch bites. And it’s also a requirement for some aftermarket exhausts (so worth checking first). From a noise/vibration review, from the time the Vibratechnics was fitted, I didn’t even notice it was there. Did it stop the wheels spinning up? Nope. Maybe it helped a bit. But nothing worth writing home about. But for feel and for handling the extra power (and saving the exhaust) I’d definitely get one.
Engine / gearbox mounts:
My longest pondered upgrade. I didn’t really want these. I again went Vibratechnics which I believe was a good call. The exhaust sounds a bit meatier and starting the car sounds like a bigger bucket of nails. But the engine has 0 movement in it. There was the smallest extra vibration at idle which went within about 200 miles. You wouldn’t even know they were on. So why bother? At Stage 1, 2, I wouldn’t. But at Stage 2+ I was concerned of the dogbone taking the extra torque on it’s own. But also keep in mind, I wasn’t comparing aftermarket mounts to oem mounts. I was comparing it to 7 year old rubber mounts. So for peace of mind, I did it.
I had H&R ARBs on the FR and loved them. When you snapped the steering, you could literally feel the bars pull the car across. When cornering fast, instead of the weight of the car pushing it slowly wide, it stayed planted. In fact, you could corner hard and still steer in and out, the biggest concern was clipping the inside of the corner cause you were used to fighting the weight of the car.
So I instantly went for Eibach 26mm front / 23mm rear. Unfortunately on the Cupra, they didn’t seem to make much of a difference in handling. I’ve thought long and hard on this. Perhaps the roll bars on the Cupra were already bigger than the FR? But also, don’t forget this is the R so comes with 235mm as opposed to 225mm tyres. I wonder if the lowering springs, spacers, wider wheel base and perhaps already bigger roll bars negate the effect of aftermarket arbs. However, they look nice and seem well made.
Also one of my favourite upgrades. You don’t know it’s there, but you’d miss it if it was gone. I never realised how much I moved round in the driver’s seat. But instinctively would lean forward into acceleration and back when braking. I found myself driving home after getting this fitted leaning forward and back and wondering why. Then it hit me, they hold the car flat under heavy braking and acceleration. Which makes it much more predictable and helps keep the nose down. I went with the SuproPro as they add extra Caster and have more favourable reviews for durability.
Being a cheapskate, these weren’t on my list and the 345mm Cupra brakes are great up to and including Stage 2. But with the 2+ you can add 20-30mph onto the speedo in a couple of seconds. Then when a Suzuki Swift pulls out right in front of you, can you knock that 20-30mph back off in a couple of seconds? The answer is no. Hence the uprated Brembo brakes. I went with the J Hooked discs because, well, they look cool. And supposedly help in stopping by adding friction to the pads.
I went for stock Pagid road pads as 1:- I was out of cash and 2:- I didn’t want loads of brake dust or ridiculous warming up times of track pads (and I believe they are illegal for road use). You know that first time you get in a Cupra, stomp on the brakes and throw everyone through the windscreen? Well, you get used to it. But it’s that all over again! Add to that, they are supposed to help with brake fade (not that I ever got it anyway).
To clutch or not to clutch. If you got away without it for Stage 1, so did I. Stage 2, I read fewer that do, but so did I. But if your chasing 2+ your going to need a new clutch. I found the pedal feel after getting the Helix to be more like a solid footrest than a clutch pedal. It’s certainly give my left leg a good work out. I had a fair bit of vibration pulling away in first that went after about 500 miles and 200 miles after that the vibration in reverse stopped. The pedal itself took about 2000 miles before it felt “factory” again. Or maybe my left leg is now massive. I’m not sure. But, from a “feel” perspective it adds nothing. But necessary to handle bigger torques.