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.
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.