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M030: A Comprehensive Write-Up


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a couple of months ago, i upgraded my suspension to M030 / RoW. a lot of people are curious as to the associated performace difference to the stock set-up. as such, i have decided to post a comprehensive analysis; what has this done for my car?

for starters, i drive a 1999 base model with a 5-speed. i just flipped 100K on the odometer Thursday on the race track (perfect celebration for such a milestone!). i also run updated wheels and tires:

Front: 18 x 7.5 w/ P225/40/18 BFG KDW II (35psi cold for the track)

Rear: 18 x 10 w/ P275/35/18 BFG KDW II (32psi cold for the track)

Cost & Equipment

i purchased my set-up from Sunset Imports for around $400. i did not change the dampers, only the sway bars and the springs. this is a bargain considering most aftermarket equipmpent can be had for around twice the price i paid for the M030.

also of note: the M030 front sway bar for a base box is the same as the STANDARD front sway on the boxster S. The M030 'S' sway is stiffer, so i chose it. the rear M030 sway for the BASE box is thicker than the M030 rear sway for the 'S', so i went with it: I'm running the M030 S sway up front and the M030 BASE sway in the rear.

Installation

i performed the installation myself. it took about an hour and fifteen minutes for each of the front springs and about 40min for the front sway.

the rears took about 2.5 hrs each side for the springs and about an hour for the sway (i do have a lot of experience as a mechanic, so expect to spend more time than this if you are unfamiliar with the way of the wrench).

i used a conventional pickle fork to split the ball joints. i tore one ball joint boot in the process, forcing me to purchase a new front control arm ($150 from a salvage yard). i recommend purchasing the proper Hazet Porsche ball-joint separator; it's cheap and will save you time and money if you do this yourself.

Alignment

my alignment was performed by Smyrna Tire near Atlanta. these guys do a great job on aligmnents and they only charge $60 for a 4-wheel set-up (that's REALLY cheap). i brought an alignment sheet with me and they set it up DEAD perfect. also, they allow you to participate in / watch the process, which i really like to see.

the RoW sport alignment is different than the standard in terms of camber. i had it aligned to -0.9 degrees up front and -1.9 degrees in the rear. after a recent track day, it became apparent quickly that much more negative camber is required up front than the Porsche spec recommendation. i'm going to match the rear setting (-1.9) this week.

UPDATE: my new tires arrived and i installed them yesterday. i also used a camber guage to check / set the front. i went to -1.2 and ran some test laps. not enough. i went to -1.6, which is the most i can dial into my car without mods. THIS is the number. the tires heated evenly and 1.2G's were had.

Driveability

from a comfort perspective, the compromise is minimal. bumps and dips in the road really don't feel any worse than they did prior to the swap (confirmed by my co-pilot / girlfriend).

the only downside for me is that the RoW ride height is about 1" lower than stock up front and i run a GT3 nose. this gives me only 4" of clearance up front for the spoiler. i have to be VERY careful pulling into / out of driveways / parking lots to make sure it doesn't scrape.

the M030 makes a VERY significant difference in steering responsiveness. it feels much more go-cart like in that respect. turn-in is extremely crisp and precise. body roll is reduced probably 70% or so. the car remains much flatter through steady corners. balance is comparable to stock, but understeer is reduced a fair amount. it's a lot easier to weight the nose and bring the rear around than it used to be. i used to find that the car would 'push' a bit more than i'd like into corners and i found it tricky (with only 201HP on tap) to overcome this and rotate the car. this is no longer an issue.

the additional stiffness in the springs makes transient responses a lot sharper as well; the car is so stable at any speed that it just darts wherever you point it. i didn't measure a slalom difference, but i have some lap time differences i'll get to later in the post. the ability for the car to sustain grip is so great that it feels ALMOST impossible to shake it loose, even at VERY high speed.

the nearly non-existent sacrifice in comfort vs. the astounding increases to performance and handling make this upgrade a no-brainer in my opinion.

Performance

prior to this purchase, i got a g-timer. this allowed me to baseline the car prior to modification. the course i ran for both performance test / comparison sessions was Talladega Gran Prix (12 turn road course). i've posted a track map below.

baseline, my car did very well even before the upgrade. of course, it's never been a 'power' machine; it's all about sustained momentum and balance.

my baseline non-M030 track outing was in March. i regularly attained 0.95G's in the horseshoe turn running counter-clockwise; that seemed to be the best i hit in either direction that day (about 80 degrees outside). my fastest lap of the day running clockwise was 1:19. counter-clockwise, i ran a 1:17.

thursday, however, was a whole other ball game. i used to brake before some quick corners followed by tight ones. this time around, i could run flat out through the sweepers, brake hard, and hit the tighter corners at speeds that just blew my mind.

driving the car with the M030 feels much like the regular suspension (except for the reduced body roll) in terms of how i drive the car. the difference is that when i glance at the speedo, i realize i'm going about 10 - 15 mph faster everywhere.

from a numbers standpoint, the car was regularly pulling over 1G on the track. my max lateral grip was measured at 1.09 time after time in the horseshoe bend. i even saw 1.10G on one lap. this is on STREET tires, mind you.

my lap times were reduced to 1:13 clockwise and 1:10 counter-clockwise. we run three cars on the course at a time and we space them about 1/3 mile apart to keep it safe. one of the guys who used to give me some driver's ed runs a C5 'Vette 2003, stock). in six laps, i made up the 1/3 mile, caught him, and passed him. i was shocked. throughout the day, i was able to run down two C5's, an '01 or '02 camaro with coil-overs, sways, race bushings, etc. i ran down two other boxsters, an R32, and a Superformance Cobra. again, utterly shocked.

some of this is due to practice; i've become a much better driver over the past several months. much of this, however, i attribute to the M030 set-up. this is the suspension the car should have had to begin with. it's one of the best-handling cars i have ever driven.

if anyone has questions regarding set-up, installation, or any other thoughts, please post and i'll give you my opinions. the only thing i'd change right now is my front camber. the factory recommends -0.9 degrees up front. my tire wear shows that this isn't NEARLY enough. my rear tires wore quite evenly at -2.0; i'm going tomatch that setting up front and reduce my front tire pressures a bit for the next go-round in Feb / March (whenever they finish expanding the course).

there's a course map and a couple of pics below. hope you all find this helpful. take care.

this is a pic coming out of the carousel / skidpad at the track. note the lack of body roll.

the second pic is an AutoX some time ago with the stock suspension. note the significant body roll.

post-3131-1154439005_thumb.jpg

post-3131-1154439161_thumb.jpg

post-3131-1154439394_thumb.jpg

Edited by insite
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Nice writeup; but, I am surprised by your tire pressures. You are using 35 psi front and 32 psi rear? I would think it would be the other way around, with more pressure in the rears, per the Porsche manual. I am on the track quite a bit with my 2003 Boxster S, and use 30 psi front and 37 psi rear. With these pressures the car understeers and I get much more front tire wear than on the rears. I am running Michelin PS2 tires, 225x17 and 255x17.

Am I missing something by using this kind of setup. What is your logic for using more pressure upfront?

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Nice writeup; but, I am surprised by your tire pressures. You are using 35 psi front and 32 psi rear? I would think it would be the other way around, with more pressure in the rears, per the Porsche manual. I am on the track quite a bit with my 2003 Boxster S, and use 30 psi front and 37 psi rear. With these pressures the car understeers and I get much more front tire wear than on the rears. I am running Michelin PS2 tires, 225x17 and 255x17.

Am I missing something by using this kind of setup. What is your logic for using more pressure upfront?

some of it is the fact that i'm using a 996 stagger, so my fat rears and comparatively narrow fronts caused too much understeer at factory tire pressures.

my current settings came from a bit of experimentation. i run 275's in back and 225's up front. i had a set of rear tires wear in the center, indicating overpressure, at 36psi cold. i used the chalk trick to figure out a better working tire pressure. i found that at 37psi WORKING (hot at the track, cold at an AutoX) tire pressure, i'm good. this translates to 32psi cold in the summer for me. i've found that this lets me get on the gas quite a bit earlier in the turns.

up front, my car always plowed a bit more than i'd like. i kept increasing the pressure until it felt better. well, i wore the heck out of the outside edge of my front tires at my last track outing (see pic below). i have since increased my negative camber up front to 1.6 degrees and decreased my front tire pressures to 32psi. this seems to have really done the trick, as the car feels much more neutral overall. it's easy to get the rear to come around if you want it to; it's also easy to hold the line without fighting the car.

i think the factory settings are designed somewhat to protect the driver from himself with a bit of extra understeer.

the pic below is after two 20 min track sessions. btw, since adjusting my front camber, lateral grip has gone from 1.09G to 1.21G.

post-3131-1154559298_thumb.jpg

Edited by insite
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insite

If I read you correctly you are now using 32 psi cold on both front and rear, am I correct? After several track sessions my front tires look like your picture, using 30 font and 37 rear. I am going out this weekend and my try 32 psi cold all around, I would like to reduce the understeer.

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insite

If I read you correctly you are now using 32 psi cold on both front and rear, am I correct? After several track sessions my front tires look like your picture, using 30 font and 37 rear. I am going out this weekend and my try 32 psi cold all around, I would like to reduce the understeer.

i'm using 32 cold front and rear. prior to increasing negative camber, i got WAY too much understeer with anything less than 35 -36 cold up front (the picture shows how well that went). setting the front camber to -1.6 and dropping my front tires to 32psi has corrected the understeer problem and evened out the temperatures across the tread.

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Bravo! :cheers:

Sounds like you have a very nicely set up Boxter and some serious driving skills as well... A deadly combination. As long as the track has lots of turns you should regularly outrun those 400hp Vetts. As you said... it's all about momentum. Getting the car dialed in to the driver makes all the difference. Thanks for the great write up.

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  • 6 months later...

Insight, so if I am reading your progression of camber settings here, I take it you wound up at

F = -1.6

R= -2.0

Pressures 32 psi all around - cold.

I am doing a full ROW M030 kit (from Suncoast) update to my '03 base Boxster right now, so I have a couple of questions for you. First some background: I am a decent driver, new to Porsches, but it sounds like you may be more skilled than I. Rubber on my car is stock size F&R on the optional 18" Carrera rims, and tires are Pirelli P-Zero's. There are a lot of twisty back roads in my neck of the woods and I like to drive them pretty aggressively now and then. So here are my questions:

1) Are the camber settings I mentioned above correct, and how "streetable" do you find these settings?

2) You didn't mention the toe-in settings you use F and R, what are those settings on your car? (I was advised F=0, R=1/8" or less)

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Insight, so if I am reading your progression of camber settings here, I take it you wound up at

F = -1.6

R= -2.0

Pressures 32 psi all around - cold.

I am doing a full ROW M030 kit (from Suncoast) update to my '03 base Boxster right now, so I have a couple of questions for you. First some background: I am a decent driver, new to Porsches, but it sounds like you may be more skilled than I. Rubber on my car is stock size F&R on the optional 18" Carrera rims, and tires are Pirelli P-Zero's. There are a lot of twisty back roads in my neck of the woods and I like to drive them pretty aggressively now and then. So here are my questions:

1) Are the camber settings I mentioned above correct, and how "streetable" do you find these settings?

2) You didn't mention the toe-in settings you use F and R, what are those settings on your car? (I was advised F=0, R=1/8" or less)

i've continued to play around with my settings. i like no toe up front and less than 1/16" in back. i'm currently maxed with front camber at -1.6. you may not be able to reach this setting with your car, it just depends on the vehicle. you can dremel out the camber slots in the strut towers if you need to get more front camber. i'm still running -2.0 in back. for my driving style, which sounds a lot like yours, my tires actually last longer this way. as for tire pressures, if you've got the base boxster M030 sways, use 30/32. if you have the base rear and the S front M030's, use 32/32. if you still have a choice, get the base rear sway and the S front sway. i recommend this on both S and base models (it's the thickest of each); it's much more neutral than stock (less understeer).

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insite,

Great write-up. I do alot of track work, but not in my Boxster S. Even though, I run about -.9 camber front; rears are set at -2.5. I went the H&R sport spring route, as I have no desire to track this car. This lowered the car overall around 1.4" from the stock setup. I'd like more negative camber up front, just haven't got around to it. I drive my Boxster for street fun, reserve track time for my 911.

I'm surprised that you run street tires, as it sounds like you visit the track fairly often. The tread depth just does not lend itself to performance track driving; and why shave a perfectly good street tire? The cornering forces will blister and chunk a street tire miserably. A good compromise is a Yoko or Michelin DOT R compound; just don't expect the stick or a Hoosier or like.

post-10990-1173884307_thumb.jpg

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I'm surprised that you run street tires, as it sounds like you visit the track fairly often. The tread depth just does not lend itself to performance track driving; and why shave a perfectly good street tire? The cornering forces will blister and chunk a street tire miserably. A good compromise is a Yoko or Michelin DOT R compound; just don't expect the stick or a Hoosier or like.

well there's a simple answer to that. my girl won't let me get spare wheels / tires / trailer until we move to a bigger place w/ more storage. i'll go along with this just fine considering all the crap she lets me get away with (i am a child). :-)

in the meantime, i'm destined to run dual use tires. know of an aggressive street / track tire that will last at least 5K miles and work in the rain? right now i've found that the KDW2's or the RE-050A PP's give me the most bang for the buck; i still go through three - four sets a year. it's killing me.

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jmatta -

is that pic w/ H&R springs? the front looks to be about the same ride height as my RoW M030. for some reason the front of my car seems lower than those of my buddies w/ M030. who cares; my car's faster!

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Thanks for all the info insite. Much appreciated. :cheers:

I'll let you know where I end up. I have a lot of wrench turning to do on my car (lots of goodies to put on) over the next few evenings and weekends. I thought the bad weather here in NJ was going to last a lot longer than it appears it has. I still have some time though. Still need a couple of real good rains to wash all that **** calcium off from the winter. :)

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insite,

Yes, that is with the H&R sports. I have not had a chance to put my car side by side with a ROW M030; only US versions (and my car was noticably lower).

I understand your dilema about the dual use tire...about the best I can recommend would be Pilot Sport Cups; fairly decent in rain, last a long time, sticky, but expensive.

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Y'know, I keep thinking about this......doesn't the zero front toe make the car touchy at very high speeds Insight ?

not really. i have run zero rear toe before, though. THAT was touchy.

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  • 2 weeks later...

back from the track. no GPS logger; couldn't make the arrangements in time. anyway, here was my setup:

Front:

Cold Pressure: 30psi

Toe: 0

Camber: -1.6

Rear:

Cold Pressure: 32psi

Toe: 1/32" in

Camber: -2.0

the car ran awesome. pyrometer showed even temperatures across both front and rear tires (street tires, race would need more camber). i did notice when aligning the car that the front tires are wearing a bit on the inside, indicating -1.6 might be a little too aggressive for the street. i will dial it back to -1.0 for the street and use -1.6 at the track.

the track is smaller (<2.0 miles) and fairly tight, so the minimal rear toe worked out very well. very easy to rotate the car with a little breathe off the throttle. there is one corner on the track that is a closing radius horse shoe; i was able to trail brake into the corner a little hot and then lift just before the late apex, rotating the car's trajectory to track out. felt very good. there's a longer carousel that i was able to modulate through nicely as well. very neutral car. i really don't think there's anything (from a setup perspective) i'd change on the car.

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back from the track. no GPS logger; couldn't make the arrangements in time. anyway, here was my setup:

Front:

Cold Pressure: 30psi

Toe: 0

Camber: -1.6

Rear:

Cold Pressure: 32psi

Toe: 1/32" in

Camber: -2.0

the car ran awesome. pyrometer showed even temperatures across both front and rear tires (street tires, race would need more camber). i did notice when aligning the car that the front tires are wearing a bit on the inside, indicating -1.6 might be a little too aggressive for the street. i will dial it back to -1.0 for the street and use -1.6 at the track.

the track is smaller (<2.0 miles) and fairly tight, so the minimal rear toe worked out very well. very easy to rotate the car with a little breathe off the throttle. there is one corner on the track that is a closing radius horse shoe; i was able to trail brake into the corner a little hot and then lift just before the late apex, rotating the car's trajectory to track out. felt very good. there's a longer carousel that i was able to modulate through nicely as well. very neutral car. i really don't think there's anything (from a setup perspective) i'd change on the car.

Thanks for the info insite. I have a couple of questions.

1) I assume that you run without PSM on of course, and you mention the ease of rotating with a breathe. I may be over-reading that comment, but I'm not sure I would want the car to rotate that easily on the street. Would you say that the point at which it will do this is well above even spirited street driving? What affect do you think PSM being on would have (would it upset the car)?

2) Just to be sure I'm reading you well. At this point a super ROW M030 street alignment would be on the order of:

Front:

Cold Pressure: 30psi

Toe: 0

Camber: -1.0 to -1.2

Rear:

Cold Pressure: 32psi

Toe: 1/32" in

Camber: -2.0

Thanks,

Andy

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