Sunday, February 11, 2007

Nismo G-Attack S-Tune Suspension Kit

Drive a stock N16 enthusiastically and it's a real pain. The car feels sloppy and inprecise. Attack a corner hard and the car rolls it's way through it. Hit a road depression while driving high speed and the car literally bounces around. All this is a result of a suspension tuned only for comfort, low cost and nothing else. What a shame especially when the equivalent USDM B15 is a proven track and auto-X handler. Guess when the N16 was launched TCM's target customer base was more towards the Uncle and Aunty population.

Anyway, TCM is trying to put things right with the recent launch of Nismo Malaysia. Nismo or Nissan Motorsports is the official motorsport and tuning arm of Nissan. Nismo Malaysia even has their own website and list of tuning parts for the X-Trail and Sentra. Check it out here. Still mostly dress-up parts for the Sentra though such as the excellent Nismo bodykit. However the G-Attack S-Tune shocks really caught my eye as I was looking for a suspension upgrade. Was thinking bout Tein Super Street coilovers but really unless you do track days frequently coilovers are a real pain to setup. You will have to dial in the ride height and corner balance the car to get your money's worth. Coilovers are for that purpose and not maximum lowering despite what the boy racer crowd will tell you. On top of that from experience I can tell you coilovers are not good for NVH compared to conventional shocks. The springs occasionally rattle especially when going over bumps. While damping adjustable, the Super Streets are only one way adjustable which means the compression and rebound damping adjustment are combined making tuning a compromise as they lack separate adjustment ala my DMS 50mm shocks on the SP. Unless I build a hardcore track day N16 which is something I don't have the time and budget, the Teins are for another day another time.

Anyway back to the S-Tune shocks. Per Nismo speak, the S-Tune is essentially the first level of performance upgrade for a Nissan car. This is followed by R-Tune and finally Z-Tune. Consider the S-Tune as Stage 1 or a steeping stone to the R-Tune (Stage 2) upgrade. Pix of S-Tune shock absorbers as displayed in TCM Prai, Penang Nismo showroom

More research including translating the Nismo Japan S-Tune webpage and numerous emails with Alan Khoo from Nismo Malaysia Operations led me to the following conclusion
  • The S-Tune shock is assembled by APM locally from parts imported from Japan. This brings the price down to RM2.5K retail (price includes install labour) . Equivalent S-Tune shocks for the Pulsar retail at >3K in Japan.
  • The S-Tune is a twin tube shock that is of similar configuration to the stock shocks and is neither height nor damping adjustable. The damping however is already optimized for the N16 by Nismo's engineers (yes, they really did come here to test the car) for sporty and occasional track day driving. To me this is best compromise for the majority. Adjustable shocks might sound glamorous but unless you know what you are doing and have the time and experience to dial in the shock it's frequently a case of 1 step forward and 2 or more steps backwards. Too many fish tailing slammed cars out there. Please don't join in. Mike Kojima's excellent article on suspension tuning details how to properly set-up and dial in your shocks. Definitely not for the lazy and rice look crowd.
  • The S-Tune is for everyday driving hence only result in a ride height that is approximately 2-2.5cm lower compared to stock. The N16 has poor suspension travel and should not be lowered more than that anyway for optimum handling unless you have the capability to change it's roll centre and suspension pivot points. If you're looking for a slammed to the ground look go elsewhere.
  • Front spring rate is 2.3kg/mm while rear is 2.5-3.0kg/mm. Springs are very red coloured.
  • The suspension kit is essentially a direct-bolt on replacement for the stock shocks and includes shocks, springs, bump stops, rubber piston shaft covers, ie. everything. There is even a wheel spacer should you be dumb dumb enough to have oversized wheels with the incorrect offset and need the spacers for the shocks and wheel to clear the inner wheel arch.
  • Warranty will follow your car's warranty if your car is less than two years old at time of installation and one year if your car is more than two years old at time of installation.
Alan even gave me a decent discount and took the trouble to call my local TCEAS to arrange for an install appointment. Thanks Alan! A couple days later the shocks dutifully arrived. Closeup pix below of the box label.


The TCEAS mechanic only took bout an hour to install the shocks since the process is just a simple bolt-on. Pix below of the front strut. There are Nismo logos all along the length of the strut/shock body. The grey coloured sleeve tubing on the lowest coil is to eliminate spring rattle noise.

The shocks have all the necessary brackets to mount your brake lines for proper clearance. Unused bracket is for ABS brake line which my N16 does not have.


The rear shocks.

Picture below of the Slowtra with stock 15"wheels and suspension. Front wheel arch gap is big enough to fit your leg!


With the Nismo shocks and 16" X 7"BBS RK wheels. Front wheel arch to tyre gap is now approx 4 fingers while rear is 3 fingers. Not that much lower than stock ride height but there is some definite lowering visually.
With everything installed and the alignment done I took the car for a drive. The improvement was so much that I ended up driving more than a hundred kilometres of testing that day. Drove all the way to the mainland and to the N/S Highway. What a blast! My observations.
  • These shocks are IMHO comfy. The feel is similar to Koni Sport shocks/Eibach spring combo with the damping set to softest or near soft. Something akin to a slightly stiffer stock Satria GTi.
  • Damping while stiff is very controlled and honestly you'll be hard pressed to find a local performance shock with such excellent damping feel. On the road and for daily driving this is close to just right as you'd hope for. The damping action is also very fast. Hit a bump or road undulation at high speed and the car regains composure very fast unlike the stock setup which will result in the car pogo'ing around like a yo-yo and feels like the suspension is bottoming out.
  • The car is much more responsive. Corner turn-in is improved due to more compression damping.
  • Pitch and roll while minimized is still present. Praying hard Nismo Malaysia will launch the S-Tune/R-Tune anti-roll bar kit. The kit is already available in the US. Alan, I hope you are reading this.
  • The shocks handle well for high speed driving. The car does not feel floaty like stock even at maximum top speed.
For those aiming for purely for performance, comfort and not only for super low looks I very highly recommend these shocks. Honestly for the RM2.5K retail price (20% less if you belong to the N16 forum, ask Alan for discount and do not require the front wheel spacers) nothing out there in the market even comes close.

22 comments:

AlucarD said...

Nice RED springs. Btw, ride height will definately drop a bit as your springs are new and so is the abs. Time I bough in the Nismo ARB's and bars for you ... hahha. Track day?!

Andrew Saw said...

Sure man. Rear disk brakes 1st. Track day no probs.

Uncle Foo said...

Excellent Saw!

Andrew Saw said...

Thanks Bro!

AlucarD said...

Eh! Just realise where is the NISMO S TUNE Stickers and Nismo stripes!!

Andrew Saw said...

Bought da Nismo S-Tune stickers liao. Cummin up! :P

WJ said...

hi andrew, would u mind 2 give alan's contact no 4 us? perhaps can cal him up 4 discount, thx :)

Andrew Saw said...

Alan can be reached at the following email add: nismo@tanchong.com.my

Pls note that you'll have to be a member of the N16 forum - http://sentran16.16.forumer.com/ to qualify for the discount.

Vernon said...

Looking good mate! Any kick-ass exterior body mods ala Nismo coming up?

Andrew Saw said...

Hey Verne,

How are you doing? Long time no see. Yes, I'm planning to do the rear bonnet lid lip in carbon ala Brabus Rocket :P

softmuffin said...

Hi AS,

I am wondering where can i get those
grey coloured sleeve tubing? I going replace my suspension this weekend and my current tubing on my current suspension spoil ady..
Many thanks,
jk

Andrew Saw said...

No idea. Mine came with the shocks. Don't know if TCEAS sell these separately

Karim said...

Hello..
amazing kit you got there :)
do you have any idea how can I get those? but am locating in egypt now... is there any website I can buy from?

best regards.

Andrew Saw said...

There is no website to order these shocks from unfortunately. You can try to email Nismo Malaysia to see if they are willing to sell and ship overseas:
http://nismo.com.my/contact.php

kennieyeoh said...

andrew, hv u tried to replace the s-tune absorbers? i used mine > 2 years, now KO alr. thinking of kyb's, cos new set is just too pricey...

kennieyeoh said...

im oso using the s-tune, but my front left suspension ko alr. hv u tried replacing them with oem absorbers like kyb, paired with the nismo springs?

Andrew Saw said...

I've replaced my rears with brand new ones. Cost me ~1K. Thinking to go to something much better in the long run but will soldier on with the S-Tune in the short term till I grow a big enough money tree.

Daniel Azmir said...

Andrew,

I've just purchased mine a week ago. I'm completely new to car ownership, my first car. How long is the break-in period and how much softer does those damper get?

Thank you.

Andrew Saw said...

Don't think there's any break-in period. The shocks don't last too long with frequent enthusiastic driving though. 50K+ km and its probably due for replacement

ViperVR said...

you can check out STC in Cheras the next time if you need another replacement. I got the front/rear set for RM330 and RM290 respectively.

Daniel Azmir said...

Andrew,

Sorry for the late reply, busy with college.

Owh, wow that's surprising. Well I've noticed a progression of softening of the dampers week after week since I've used them. And now the front left damper is significantly softer than the front-right. Tested by rocking on the respective sides of the car

I don't have an aggressive driving behavior, but I do attack corners when I see one. And doesn't happen to often for the past months due to heavy rain.

Hmm. Would be sad to swap back to OEM dampers since I've enjoyed the Nismo's short-lived benifits.

Any suggestions?

Daniel Azmir said...

ViperVR,

Wow, brilliant! Thank you. Do you mind posting a Google Map link for everyone's benefit?

Thank you!