Designers know that any car looks better when it’s low to the ground and rolling on large wheels. Just take a look at the concept vehicles at any major auto show. Beyond the outrageous color choices and obligatory chrome, one thing all those cars have in common is oversized wheels and super-low ride height. Sadly, by the time one of those wild concepts make it to market in production spec, the manufacturer has typically fitted the smallest possible wheel that clears the brake system. Even with a sport package or a dealer-installed wheel upgrade, it often falls short of looking as good as the car you saw on the pedestal at the big convention center.
It should come as no surprise then that the aftermarket has been answering to this issue for many years, supplying bigger wheels and lower sport-tuned suspensions to an eager market. With continued growth in the tuner segment, manufacturers have been steadfast on pushing products to market quicker than ever before. Take our project car – a 2007 Volkswagen Eos. Debut of the Eos in Europe came around spring of 2006, although our shores did not see them much before autumn of the same year. Yet in this extremely short span of time there is already a plethora of performance items available for the vehicle, from manufacturers all over the world.
Like most other VWvortex readers, my wife and I admire those concept cars we see at the auto show. We are enamored with their “bling-bling” wheels and ground-hugging suspension. Even living in the Midwest, home of pot-hole stricken roads and scary uneven pavement, we decided to take our chances with low-profile tires and a more aggressive suspension. Lucky for us the market didn’t wait long to unleash products for the Eos, giving us the chance to jump right into this next chapter without any delay.
In all my years within the VW scene I’ve come to love and trust one name for suspension upgrades – H&R Springs. The German company is best known for top quality products that typically trump the rest of the market in functionality and superiority. H&R offers various options for most vehicles, ranging from basic sport lowering springs to full-fledged race suspensions. However they are probably best known for their adjustable coil-over suspension packages for VW and Audi cars.
Coil-over suspensions are popular on the racetrack because they allow fine-tuning of the weight distribution for track conditions, but the setup has gained popularity on street cars for the ability to select the exact ride height at each wheel. In the case of our Eos we opted for the coil-over kit instead of sport springs, giving us up to another 0.75 inch drop if we chose to utilize it. And we did, setting the rear perch as low as the car permitted and then matching the front to try to retain the factory raked look of the vehicle.
To help keep the car planted at our new lower ride height, H&R Springs also supplied us with front and rear anti-sway bars which are thicker and therefore stiffer than the factory units. Offerings from H&R include 26 or 28 mm front sway bars, and 24 or 22 mm rear bars. At their recommendation for our street car, we went with the 26 and 22 mm bars, respectively. As with every item that H&R offers, most all necessary hardware is included with the kit. However, since Volkswagen recommends you replace some of the one-time use bolts when removing and reinstalling the suspension, we opted to purchase a front suspension hardware kit from ECS Tuning. We also picked up a spreader tool from them, to help aid in removal of the front struts.
Like in the last chapter of our project, our search for a good deal on wheels had us searching the VWvortex classified forums, where we found a set of used RH wheels up for sale at a great price. For reference, these wheels are 2-piece 19×8,5 with an offset of 61mm. After sending one wheel to Wheel Medic in Columbus, Ohio for a much-needed complete refinishing, we replaced one of the tires with a brand new Nitto NT-555 225/35-19 tire to match the others. GMP Performance also helped out, sending us a set of their new-style center caps for RH wheels.
German-made RH wheels typically have a high offset and utilize a multi-fit adapter, allowing the wheels to be used for a variety of applications. Yet these wheels are already 5×112 in bolt pattern, which is perfect for our Eos, save for the extremely high offset. H&R Springs had the perfect solution though, supplying us with hub-centric TRAK+ spacers in 12mm thickness for all four corners, with the proper extended-length bolts to make it all work together. With a net offset of ET49, the wheels fit perfectly without any rubbing issues, and they look just stunning!
With this rather low stance and larger wheels, the car now looks as stunning as a concept car. Of course the handling is much improved as well, and thankfully with little cost in the way of ride punishment. Now that the car handles great and looks even better, perhaps it is time to give this beauty a little kick in the pants. My wife keeps asking me if she can chip it … who am I to say no?!
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