I bought my 2013 XC60 D4 AWD R Design about a year ago and have been very pleased with it except for one issue – the ride quality.
It was a highly specified ex-Volvo staff car with just about every extra in the options list and as part of the deal the garage added a Polestar tune to get it up to D5 power.
All the reviews I read were very complimentary so after a short test drive I signed on the dotted line, paid up and drove home a very happy bunny.
However, I soon realised that the test drive had only been on smooth roads and when subjected to the pot holes and scabby tarmac that pass for roads where I live, the ride quality was abysmal.
Despite having the more forgiving 18” tyres, the car crashed into every bump and all road imperfections were faithfully transmitted to my rear end.
I dread to think what it would have been like on 20” wheels.
I hoped that I would become more tolerant of the ride over time but it became clear that I was rapidly falling out of love with this car and I was going to have to do something.
Things came to a head over Easter when we loaded her up and set off for the north Norfolk coast with some friends. After a 40 minute drive over country roads there were some very green faces in the back and I don’t think it was just my driving.
I decided that enough was enough and started to look for alternatives - Q5 (too expensive), VW Toureg (too big), X3 (too ugly) etc.
I also researched if there was anything I could do to the car to improve matters. I thought about retro fitting Active 4 C but this was neither practical or financially viable. I didn’t want to revert to standard XC60 suspension as I feared it would be too much like my old wallowy Freelander 2. While Googling, I came across Koni FSD shocks which apparently had been fitted very successfully to BMWs and Audis where owners had complained of too harsh a ride.
According to the Koni website they have dual valves which allow for a softer ride around town and then firm up when under load.
People also recommended partnering them with Eibach progressive springs which again are softer at low speeds but get stiffer as you press on. I had used them in the past on my tuned Saab 9/5 Aero estate where they made a big difference.
After a bit of dithering I decided to make a leap of faith and ordered the parts.
I got the shocks from Larkspeed ( Koni part number 2100 4141) and the springs from ebay.de which was much cheaper than sourcing via the UK (Eibach part number: E10-84-013-01-22) . Total cost was about £650. The parts arrived within a few days and I got stuck in...
Fitting the rears was easy - only took about 90 mins.
The fronts were more of a challenge!
Although they are conventional struts and should have been easy to remove and replace, the lower steering knuckle joint was an absolute sod to remove. According to VIDA, there is a special tool which should allow it to be removed by just pulling down but I’m sure it wouldn’t have worked with mine, they were stuck fast. After spending a day and a half wrestling with it I resorted to a lump hammer and piece of 4x2 which finally shifted it. Once this was free it was easy to take out the strut, remove the old spring and shock and replace with the new ones. Refitting wasn’t too bad and I made sure I put some copaslip on the offending joint!
I couldn’t face going through all that pain again for the other side so decided to try a different approach. I compressed the road spring in situ and then jacked up the strut which allowed just enough clearance for the bottom of the strut to pull clear of its lower fitting. Re-fitting was easier as the new springs are about 25mm shorter than the originals so require less clearance. No faffing about with ball joints made the job much easier this time.
So, having finally fitted the kit, was it worth the effort/cash?
Well obviously its early days and I haven’t driven many miles yet but so far, so good.
I’m having the suspension set up next week so that any issues with camber, alignment and toe in can be addressed.
The ride is definitely smoother with none of the crashing and shuddering over rough roads. You can still feel bumps but they are “rounded off” and the result is much more pleasant experience.
There is a certain amount of jiggling over short undulations but nothing too unpleasant.
I was surprised at how effective the new setup is at preventing excess roll through roundabouts, perhaps the 25mm lower stance helps here.
I’d imagine that things will tend to settle down after a few miles and I will report back in due course.
If anyone else is considering this mod and can get themselves to Norwich, I’d be happy to take you out for a run over some of Norfolks finest pot holes so you can judge for yourself.