First things first: this is not a super-stiff race-spec suspension that's going to make your lap times plummet, so don't expect it. Immediately following the install, I could tell the car was lower: my floor jack wouldn't slide out from under the front of the car without first lifting the chassis up with one hand (the car is about 0.75" lower). A brief drive revealed that steering effort was up just slightly. The real shocker was this: though I didn't believe it myself, the stiffer A-Spec setup actually absorbs large-ish bumps better than the softer stock Type-S suspension. By the way, keep in mind as you read through these impressions that I have the JDM Integra/RSX Type-R rear swaybar installed on my car (review).
Where the stock Type-S suspension caused the rear to bounce around over even mild road imperfections (most notably on the highway), the A-Spec erases this trait. Now the car doesn't exactly bounce at all four corners, but it simply rides stiffer as the firmer shocks and springs react to imperfections. With higher spring rates, compression, rebound, and lower ride height, the car is, of course, going to ride firmer. Apparently, this makes it difficult for passengers of the female persuasion to apply lipstick – I don't have this problem, except perhaps on Halloween. Personally, I prefer the taut feeling since it gives a better feel for what the car is actually doing versus isolating me from the road.
Stock vs. A-Spec
I installed the new suspension just before a track event weekend and was eager to put it through the paces of some road course lapping. Unfortunately, I had about 10 minutes of driving under my belt before it began raining…for the next week straight. Ten minutes of lapping didn't reveal too much since I was still warming up tires on a cold day, getting reacquainted with the track, etc. I noticed that the car was far more neutral than I remembered it being on the same track, but that could also be my race compound tires being a bit chilly. That left me with the next weekend to evaluate the setup in an autocross environment.
The stock Type-S suspension was constantly lagging behind in slaloms. I'd turn the wheel, the body would roll, and by the time it got around the cone, I'd be literally wrestling the wheel around to the other side to transition to the next cone. With the A-Spec, the body roll and overall responsiveness is kept reasonably within check, so there's no wrestling involved. Turn the wheel, a little body roll, change directions, no problem. That's a major improvement. There is still more body movement than I would like, especially under braking, but it is improved. I can still lift the inside rear wheel when braking and turning (thanks to my Type-R rear swaybar), though it's far reduced and isn't as simple as with the stock suspension. Also, on exiting tight corners, enough weight is still moved from the inside front wheel that a limited-slip differential is needed; I will continue to chastise Honda for this until they include it as standard equipment.
Stock vs. A-Spec
On the street, small bumps are felt where they were unnoticed in the past, but large bumps are absorbed better. Body roll and ground clearance are down, but the looks are now much more agreeable due to the shorter ride height and wheel well gaps. As I mentioned earlier, road undulations at speed cause the car to bounce around a bit more. It feels much more like a proper sports coupe than the original suspension did and that gets a pair of thumbs up in my book.
Copyright 2005, Temple of VTEC