|height adjustment +0/-25mm||questionable design|
|slightly stiffer than stock suspension||questionable manufacturing quality|
|two spring sets available (soft/hard)||custom stabiliser link length|
|optional Uniball damper upper link||not plug & play – requires intensive knowledge|
|race-like handling…if you get it right||of course, you lose comfort|
|shifts brake balance to the rear end|
|ABS/ESP doesn’t work properly anymore|
|funny communication with Mr. Protlum|
Getting to know you better
The best way to learn car handling is to use deadly stock comfort. Stock springs are not bad, but dampers are tuned for deadly comfort. I have already driven Hilda HR I for two years.
Simply put, it was like riding kangaroo – car wobbles in every direction, too much body roll, handling precision jut joke. Of course, it is a family car and not designed for spirited drivers.
Even so called sport-cars are always designed with comfort in mind. Friend’s Seat Cupra R 2.0 TSI with Brembo Performance Pack was not bad, and very close to HR latest suspension setup.
First stage suspension upgrade was rear stabiliser, a kludge for horrible rear end dancing. Second stage, before full suspension upgrade, was front stabiliser. Of course, you cannot fix what is not there.
After two years of driving, there was no other choice than chassis/suspension upgrade described in lengthy article.
- height adjustment with 0mm drop
- racing-style durability
- rough tarmac, gravel setup
- optionally, valve adjustment (at least rebound control, or even better 3-way adjustment)
The first requirement filters out over 90% of commercial coil-overs/suspension kits because improved handling comes with lower center of gravity, and almost every kit is dropped to 40-60mm area.
I really liked H&R Street Performance SS Coil Overs, Inox material, height and damping adjustable…only downside was drop of at least -25mm.
The winner is Protlum Sport custom coil-overs.
Choose your poison
You either have precision handling or comfort. I do not like deadly comfort and always choose precision handling at expenses of comfort. If you chose Uniball mounting points and Powerflex Black Series, prepare for balls massage.
But when you turn in the wheel, car does exactly what you want…hitting bump, or cutting corners…braking hard…no worries.
Everything is as strong as its weakest link
Mr. protlum marketed Protlum Sport for Skoda Octavia vRS 2.0TDi with +0/-40mm height adjustments, no valve control with fixed damping characteristics. Used as training suspension for Rally teams.
I had following choices:
- two spring setups…soft (about 10% stiffer than stock vRS) and stiffer/shorter.
- damper upper link with Uniball or standard stock rubber.
The final order was Uniball upper link joint and soft springs.
If we do something, we do it right from the beginning – there is no point of suspension upgrade if you have worn arm bushes, ball joints. The whole chassis/suspension upgrade is described here.
After suspension ordeal described in previous paragraph, I rushed to wheel alignment service…back then I wasn’t aware it is not plug&play suspension replacement as Weitec Ultra GT on Fabia HR II.
Whole rear end of car dropped visibly, and natural front-to-rear end wedge was gone. It looked like overloaded cars in Africa or Asia in above by picture.
Next step was height adjustment where I hit the limits of suspension. It did turn out that it is not possible to drop height -40mm as claimed by Mr. Protlum.
There was some funny communication with Mr. Protlum with various excuses and whining that I have no idea what I do…it is interesting that aExpert is preaching about no idea ROFL.
I am used to bullshit, I see it every day at work and it is always amusing when they come to my prototype workshop and coaching me how to design and operate 5-12 axis CNC Machines ROFL
Most amusing speech is “if you find a problem, just tell me about it.” I am “evil” honest person, and I am happily explain you what you doing wrong. I know about three people on Earth that learn from suggested mistakes/errors…most go to defensive, not-my-fault mode ROFL.
The major issues is collision of tire with suspension despite Mr. Protlum told me it is not possible that tire touches damper body…well, he sent me pic below…maybe I am blind.
Answer for lack of heigh adjustment was arrogant bullshit “nobody needs to drop it 40 mm” ROFL. Oh boy, why do you promise people -40mm height adjustment if you can manage only -25mm.
Electronic assistants issues
Handling improved drastically, but ESP didn’t like it too much. During hard cornering, ECU thought my rear end of car is sliding and ESP/ABS kicked in…starting to argue with me 😀
If you are spirited driver, you must switch off ABS otherwise ESP will interfere with your fun and you end up in hospital…in better case.
Brake balance shift
Major issue with Protlum Sport design is shifted brake balance. While it is designed for duners, it suppose to be properly designed. I doubt normal car users will waste months of suspension setup…people wanna drive!
On my car, I was unable to adjust natural front-rear wedge. No matter what I did, rear end of car was lower than front. Of course, car sits very well in turns, but you have to adjust your braking style or upgrade brakes !!!
I have tried many solution such as proportion valve, brake pads….only thing that works reliably is aggressive braking that results in so-called nosedive and shifts brake balance to front wheels.
Still, it was just a kludge resulting in uneven brake overheating and braking issues.
vRS has got 312mm front discs, mine 280mm – I doubt there is much difference. I had higher friction brake pads on front wheels but it would need complete brake system redesign.
350mm front discs may help, while keeping stock rear 250-260mm discs. Or there is 2000GBP brake upgrade for Skoda, but I didn’t see point in wasting 2000GBP on 5000GBP car ROFL.
Bottom line, it will always be just family car no matter how much you wanna change it…not to mention, issues with authorities and technical inspection.
Steep learning curve
I knew I need to learn a lot, but didn’t expect so much problems along the way. Thanks to Caroll Smith and Herb Adams, I got it eventually right…after two years of tinker and mods.
Support from Protlum is on level of nursery where is lots of whining, excuses and no help at all. I was so pissed off that I even wanted to return product that doesn’t fit its description…but it would end up with costly lawsuit with little chance to get refund for wasted time.
23 months later and one month before warranty end…stabiliser link mount point ripped off from damper body. Poor welding and design or intention?
Who knows, I have checked stock damper where is welding properly done from both sides. Proper weld never fails in weld itself but somewhere along the way at weakest point of material.
As you can see from pictures below, mounting point failed in weld and also material.
Of course, there was lots of whining from Mr. Protlum, such as I have incorrectly installed stabiliser links, they suppose to be crossed and so on and so on. I have installed all with least resistance to suspension.
I had to send damper back for welding. When I asked who will pay for mistakes…there was awkward silence such as two years ago during heigh adjustment screw up…
If you do modifications to stock equipment, do it properly. I am in design and production for over 20 years. Anything can happen, but why the hell should I pay for mistakes of others…that’s the beautiful world of Matrix where is no spine, balls and responsibility.
Protlum Sport HR mod
It was time to fire up CAD SW and design it properly. My ex-boss supported HR Labs and happily laser-cut new mount point, some bending in brake machine…done.
I have spoken with my friend who used to do off-road trial “it is normal, improperly welded…bring it all and I will weld it.”
Design is according to HR military standard, 2G+ G-forces (I have never managed to push car over 1.2G in turns 🙂 and landmine proof. If properly welded, the whole mounting point must rip-off part of damper body 😉
This bomb-proof mega construction was Russian Roulette because stabiliser links were over-designed…it survived another 3.5 years of heavy duty rally-style abuse though.
Prepare for high maintenance costs
After years of tinkering, we finally get it right.
Only downside is, severely reduced durability of stock parts…ball joints were worn in about 30’000km (one year for me), modified stock stabiliser links were worn like every 15’000km (twice a year replacement for me).
Also stock suspension/chassis design is not capable to handle high-G fun and I have to do wheel alignments twice a year (every 15’000km). Especially, rear end multi link suspension is paint in ass…suspension arms regularly moved out from calibrated position…screwing out wheel geometry.
As my friends repeatedly told me “It is family car, it is not for psychos like you.” Right now, I am thinking about horse because used car prices are joke, fuel costs as well and most lands on Earth promised to ban ICE somewhere between 2025-2024.
It will be same comedy as “renewable” energy, most dirty energy on Earth…clueless idiots banned most clean energy from nuclear power…then realised that solar panels and wind turbines are ecological disaster of Biblical proportion (wait, they didn’t tell you that solar panels and wind turbine composite blades are buried underground because it is too expensive to recycle…hypo-idiocrats).
Right now, with Russian rescue mission in Ukraine, EU opens nuclear plants again and pays double for Uranium from Asia (Russia, China) ROFL. Where would we be without various geniuses in leadership.
In 2026, they realise finally realise that EV cars are more dirty than latest TDi tech and EV industry destroyed more Earth than before…every thing looks great on paper. Then I buy Subaru Impreza again 😉